Project FiI hate wasting money.  I know, I can hear your gasps of shock from where I sit.  For the longest time I was on Verizon.  The network always worked.  I was in absolute bunkers where I got signal.  It was a ridiculous amount of money.  I was paying something like $100 per month. To this day I’m not sure how I manged to pay that much as reasonable Verizon plans currently seem to run $50 for a phone and a gig of data.  This doesn’t include the cost of the phones, which they now break out, so maybe that’s it? In any case I’ve since switched to Google’s Project Fi, which is currently in beta.

The Deal

On Project Fi you get unlimited talk and text for $20 per month.  After that you pay only for data you actually use, at a rate of $10 per GB.   This is cheap.  My cell phone bill dropped to roughly $30 per month.  I use about half as much data as I used to, because I am more careful to connect to WiFi before watching television shows or something crazy (streaming pandora?).  The $70 per month of savings works out to $840 per year.  This is a large enough portion of my pay that I definitely notice.  One major difference is that I pay for the phone rather than getting a subsidized phone from a carrier.  The Verizon plan that I quoted works that way, but my old plan subsidized about $300 worth of phone every other year.  That works out to only about $12 per month, so not substantial enough of a difference to make up for the extra cost.

The Phone

When I signed up there was only one available phone, the Nexus 6.  I was fine with purchasing a used version to save on the cost but it still cost a substantial amount of money.  I should start coming out ahead sometime this year, assuming I don’t drop the phone in a toilet somewhere.  I ordered online and was so excited about the plan savings that I didn’t realize, this is a huge phone.  I look completely ridiculous with the thing.   Turns out to be quite uncomfortable to carry.

The Catch

Service is terrible. Not unusably bad, but still way worse than it ought to be.  Project Fi runs on the T-Mobile and Sprint networks, and in my experience it seems to prioritize T-Mobile.  How do I know this?  Folks with sprint phones get signal in my apartment.  I find it nearly impossible to make or receive a phone call.  Theoretically WiFi calling should fix this issue, and if the phone attempts to route the call through my home WiFi network things work great.  Unfortunately, the phone really doesn’t want to do that.  The only workaround that makes my phone usable at home is turning on airplane mode and then connecting to the WiFi network. Project Fi’s customer service was quite responsive and they were ultimately the ones to put together this workaround for me.  It is a little bit annoying that I can’t control which network the phone connects to, but what are you going to do?

In all I’m quite happy with Project Fi’s service and substantial savings.  I’m looking forward to the project moving out of beta and T-Mobiles expanded spectrum to improve the issues I’m currently seeing.