Recently I switched my cell phone number to Project Fi and it turned out to be a good decision. The reason for the switch was mainly because I have been travelling in Europe in the last year and my previous T-Mobile plan was not working out for me.
I made the switch to Project Fi at the start of August, right at the time when I got my new Google Nexus 6p phone. One of the very few drawbacks when using Project Fi is that you have a very limited selection of phones that support their network. Nexus 6p is one of them together with Nexus 5x and the two new phones Pixel and Pixel XL, all phones made by Google. I don't mind the small selection though, my 6p has proven to be the best smartphone I've owned and it came at a reasonable price.
Following is a explanation of my experience with the service during my travels throughout Europe.
The coverage has been great and I don't have any major complaints. In the span of a month and a half I visited the following countries in Europe: Macedonia, Greece, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria. I didn't have any serious problems with coverage and the few times I had problems were when I was going through the Italian and Austrian Alps and crossing the English Channel. Other than these couple occasions that I remember, my coverage was stable using 4G, 3.5G and on some occasions 3G. I was able to get LTE speeds in a few places but that was too rare.
If you are familiar with the Project Fi service you may know that it actually uses other mobile networks in the background to provide service to the users. The service itself doesn't own any network of mobile towers that give you cell phone service. Initially, when Project Fi was first created by Google, it allowed phones to jump between Sprint and T-Mobile. Then Google added US Cellular. recently they also made a deal with Three, a popular European cellular provider, which has extended the service’s reach even farther.
I used my data to make a mobile hotspot so I can feed my laptop internet and I racked up quite a bill. But it was worth it because I was able to keep on working in any country I visited and I didn't have the hassle of figuring out how to get affordable internet and phone access in each country.
Some of the prices that I saw for example in Austria were 12 Euro for a GB of data, or 15 Pounds in the UK which are more expensive. Also you are most likely not going to use the whole amount of data but you will be charged for it nevertheless. Whereas with Project Fi, if you only use 600 MB in Belgium you will only be charged $6 and not the full $10. Later after some research I found out about a really affordable solution in Austria which costs 1.99 Euros for 1 GB of data. It's provided by Yesss.
Here is a screenshot of my data usage throughout the different countries.
And here at the end is my final bill for the whole month during which I traveled.
The amount for the bill is more than your average bill but for this occasion I was really fine with it. It allowed me to call, text and get online whenever I wanted in any country I visited.
One small lesson I learned early on is, be careful who you allow to connect to your hotspot and which apps they will use. My friends connected to it and started using messenger apps to communicate with others back home. One of these apps was Snapchat which sucked around 1.5 GB of data in three days out of my data plan. The reason for that was, when the phone is connected to WiFi, the app loads all the image and video stories in the background. That's what happened to us, even though the WiFi hotspot that was in use was just really using a mobile data connection. But lesson learned :)
The pricing of calls, messages and data is simple. The monthly cost for unlimited calls and texts is $20, plus $10 for each GB of data.
When travelling, international calls to the US are 0.20 cents per minute, text messages are free and each GB of data costs $10. If you are connected to a WiFi connection then your calls to the US are free which is awesome and something I use a lot.
Another thing I love about Project Fi is that you can pause your service whenever you want and not be charged for the service during that time. Let say I was travelling to a mountain or some other place where I was sure there wasn't going to be service. Or maybe I want to stop using this phone number for a little while. Then through the Project Fi app on my smartphone I can pause my service and resume it with a simple touch of my finger whenever I wanted. For any day that my service was paused, I would not be charged. So for example, if my service was paused for 5 days out of a 30 day month, I would be only charged for the 25 days or around $25.
As you can see, I'm quite happy with my choice to switch. I hope Google keeps on doing good work on this service and they keep bringing us more exciting features.