What happens when you pause Project Fi service?

Project Fi does a few innovative things that set it apart subtly from other carrier offerings, and one of the lesser-advertised features is the ability to "pause" service on a whim without any hoops to jump through. Pausing service isn't something offered by other carriers, and lets you simply disable your phone for as long as you want and instantly resume service with the press of a button.

This isn't something you'll be doing all the time on Project Fi, but it does turn out to be a neat feature. We're going to show you how it works.

Why you'd want to pause service, and what happens

Project Fi pausing service

So what exactly happens to your phone when you pause Project Fi service? Just as it sounds, it puts the brakes on all aspects of your phone — no calls, texts or data will work until you resume service again. Of course your phone will still connect to Wi-Fi and work for everything but calls and texts. You'll still be able to make emergency calls, as you would in a phone without a SIM, but you won't be notified of texts or calls that were missed during the paused service. Anyone who tries to text your paused number will get an error saying the number isn't active, and incoming calls just won't arrive.

It immediately sounds like a great way to save money, but understand everything that happens first.

It sounds like a great idea to regularly pause service, particularly if your Project Fi line is a secondary device, but also keep in mind that you lose the ability to use your Project Fi number everywhere when it's paused. That means you can't make or receive calls via Hangouts on your computer, text on other phones via the Hangouts app, or have calls to your Fi number forwarded to other phones with active cell service — everything stops. Unfortunately the warnings about pausing your service aren't super clear about this point, and when you go to send text messages from other device they appear to go through, but don't.

If you do choose to pause service, there's a reward involved. You're refunded a portion of your $20 "Fi Basics" charge for every day of service that you are paused. Just like the refunds that are given for unused data, every day that you have your Fi service paused you'll get back about $0.66 as a refund on your next bill.

As soon as you pause service you'll immediately see a refund posted on your dashboard for the entire remainder of the billing period, but of course that isn't finalized until the month is over. If you happen to resume service within the same billing period, the amount of time you were paused is calculated and the proper refund amount is posted. For example we paused our service for just over 24 hours, and were issued a $0.75 refund that'll be applied to our next bill.

This feature is incredibly important if you want to keep a Project Fi account active for use with the eSIM inside your Google Pixel 2 or 2 XL when you travel internationally, but intend to still use another carrier most of the time. When you aren't using your backup Project Fi service, you can just disable it and not pay a cent.

How to do it if you decide it's right for you

Project Fi pausing service

The ability to pause service isn't hiding from view, but it also isn't exactly something that's advertised as a feature of Project Fi. If you open up the Fi app or website, in the plan details area you'll see a simple button that says "pause service." Select it, and you'll get a roundup and reminder of what happens if you choose to pause. Confirm your decision, and your phone's cellular functions will stop working almost immediately.

You're notified from the moment you pause service that it will automatically resume three months from that date, but of course you can resume service at any time by again opening up the Project Fi app or website. When you resume it'll take a couple minutes to switch back on, and rebooting your phone at the same time is a good idea. But you'll be back up and running in no time at all.

The ability to pause service is pretty great if you will have literally no need for your phone over a set period of time. For example if you're going on a long camping trip in an area where you won't have cellular service anyway, you could simply pause service just before you leave, and come home after a long weekend to a $3 or so refund. It's also a great choice if Fi is a secondary line that you only want to use sometimes but don't rely on the phone number for regular use.

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