30 Days of Fi

Thirty days ago we activated Nexus 6 phones with Google's Project Fi.  So far, our impression of it is quite good, despite a few imperfections.

Project Fi is Google's foray into providing wireless broadband and cellular phone service.  After almost fifteen years of Verizon Wireless, we decided to give it a whirl.  I think we'd had a few too many conversations about how Verizon's top-drawer network coverage made up for sting upon sting of lousy service and high prices.

A birthday was a perfect excuse for the new phones, and off we went.  We had already gotten the SIMs, so we activated the phones and began the process of transferring our existing numbers.  This was not 100% pain-free.  It took each of us a while in a customer-service chat window and on the phone to get this moving properly.  Once moving, it proceeded as slowly as they say it might.  We started the process on a Saturday morning so that we could be sure it would be done by Monday morning -- we both rely on our phones at work.  We got there, but just barely under the wire.

Using these phones involves connecting via the Sprint and T-Mobile networks in combination with whatever ambient WiFi the phone can find.  That sounds rather patchwork but it has performed rather well.  Coverage sometimes drops a bit while playing Ingress, but comes back in a few moments.  Coverage for voice calls has been quite good.

The cost savings will be substantial also.  Unlike Verizon, from whom I am sure I have purchased a couple of terabytes of unused data transfer, on Project Fi we pay only for what we use.  My cellular bill for the month is looking like it will be about $27 before taxes.  This is due to the fact that we only pay for the cellular data we use, and when a Project Fi phone can get WiFi it uses no cellular data at all.  No cellular data, no charge.

I also have to give a shout-out for the phone itself.  Aside from what is needed to make Fi work at all, the Nexus phones for this service have none of the ad-ware, the spy-ware, the just-plain-crapware that we have become used to.  It's refreshing to get a new device for once and not feel that the very first thing I must do is root it, just out of self-defense against the manure my carrier has loaded on.  Since my online life is in Google already, I am actually reducing my privacy attack surface by moving my phone into that same ecosystem.

All in all, I have to say that I am gladder than ever to have left behind the crutch of "but Verizon has the best network."  It's been a little spotty at times, but it works very well.  I expect to be enjoying it for a long time to come.

This article was updated on May 9, 2023

David F