Google adds group plans to its Project Fi cellular service

Google turned a few heads recently with its new Pixel and Pixel XL phones, the successors to its Nexus line of in-house devices. The phones' availability is currently limited, so people have been paying a little more attention to Google's Project Fi cellular service, which is one of the few places where one can pre-order a Pixel. To turn that interest into a sale or two, Google added group plans to Project Fi recently. It's also deeply discounted Nexus phones bought with the service.

The basics of Project Fi remain the same. With Project Fi's contract-free service, phones attempt to use Wi-Fi for as much communication as possible, using free, Google-vetted Wi-Fi hotspots when they're available. Sprint or T-Mobile cellular towers provide service wherever Wi-Fi isn't an option. Basic plans start at $20 a month, and include unlimited voice calls, texting, and Wi-Fi tethering. On top of the base charge, users pay $10/GB for cellular data.

Now, Project Fi users can invite up to six other people to join them in a group plan. The "manager," or owner of the primary account, still pays $20 a month for basic service, but each additional line is discounted to $15 a month. Cellular data still costs $10/GB. Through Google's Project Fi app, each member of the group can track everyone else's data usage. The manager can go a step further and set limits on the amount of data other members consume.

A phone service isn't much without a phone, though. Project Fi still has a limited range of options, but Google is offering last year's Nexus phones at a discount to those who find its new Pixel phones a little too pricey. The 32GB Nexus 6P has been discounted $100 to $399, and the 16GB Nexus 5X has been discounted $150 to $199. Both discounts only apply to these phones when they're purchased and activated through Project Fi.

Comments closed
    • floodo1
    • 3 years ago

    ATT sends me an SMS message almost every month about how I will be hitting their 16gb/month cap. Looks like Fi is not an option for someone like me 8-P

    • MrDweezil
    • 3 years ago

    I would be more comfortable with this if non Nexus/Pixel phones had support for it. When this first launched I got the impression that google’s phones would be the first to support it, but other phones from other manufacturers would follow.

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 3 years ago

    I just don’t see this as a great deal. I’m on T-Mobile with 5 adults and an iPad with a $155 bill post taxes. The adults have 10GB a month an the kid iPad has 5GB. With the Binge-On I barely “use” data. If I didn’t have that I’d be paying $20 for Spotify and Slacker just for myself and another $20 just for the iPad data if I were on Project Fi.

    And I really think using “free” WiFi is a bad idea. Even if it’s “secured.” There is all kind of bad stuff that can go on with MitM attacks.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 3 years ago

      What I like about Project Fi is that its truly 4G LTE all day every day instead of the “Unlimited” (a.k.a. “First 2GB at 4G LTE and the rest at 2G/3G”) we tend to get today. You can truly use the data however you want and you pay the same fee no matter. That includes hotspot/tethering which every other carrier treats as a separate pool for whatever reason.

      I do agree that the final bill usually winds up being more expensive on Fi compared to the same amount of data on other carriers (such as Cricket, which I left), but I’m within range of a Brighthouse Wi-Fi hotspot at work which helps a lot with keeping LTE data usage under control.

      • ca_steve
      • 3 years ago

      Secured or unsecured doesn’t matter. The Fi service creates a VPN between your phone and them and through any wifi network it connects with. The biggest data that shows up on my bill tends to be Map/directions use. Nearly everything else happens in a location where I have wifi access.

        • DragonDaddyBear
        • 3 years ago

        It’s better to have it than not, but I wouldn’t count on it not being sniffed. Defense in depth is good, though. VPN mitigates the risk but I’d rather avoid it.

        • VincentHanna
        • 3 years ago

        I had to switch to waze when I joined project Fi because I was spending almost $7 per month JUST on Google maps.

      • Zantosh
      • 3 years ago

      Your last statement is inaccurate and fraught with assumptions. If you have taken the time to do any research on the technology used for the voice over IP and if you’ve considered that T-Mobile already does exactly this, then you’ll realize that the wifi option is actually great. Having been a T-Mobile customer, I’ve observed that the voice over IP tech used by Google is different. It results in good to great call quality even on a throttled or low bandwidth connection whereas T-Mobile needs a reasonably fast connection to work.

      Cost wise I must say you’re not off the mark. Project Fi can get expensive. However it works on any phone that can accept a sim card and the voice calls over data are free. They don’t consume your data.

      In my case, I use my account on several iOS and Android devices with only one Android device as the actual phone. The other devices use data and they’re not billed separately. All the data is in one bucket and I pay $10 per gigabyte regardless of which device consumes it.

      Overall project Fi isn’t yet for families that are tight on cash. It’s great for the average Joe however.

        • DragonDaddyBear
        • 3 years ago

        See my response above about WiFi and VPN.

        I know VoIP is usually fairly secure when properly done (more so than cellular). My phones don’t support it, though. I’d use it, but, again not on open WiFi.

      • flip-mode
      • 3 years ago

      My wife and I each use less than 1GB of data in a typical month. We just signed up for Fi the other day, in part because her phone died and I wanted to get her a 5X. I am hoping that due to our low data usage Fi will end up being a good deal for us.

        • designerfx
        • 3 years ago

        fi is explicitly and only good for low data use individuals. So yes, it’d work for you probably.

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