From AT&T to Cingular to Verizon to T-Mobile to Project Fi

pfiI signed up for my first wireless plan in 2000; only the actual phone number has remained constant.

The eternal quest for the cheapest/best/reliablest(sp?) plan has taken me to Google’s Project Fi beta. What’s Project Fi? Google Fi gives you a new type of sim card that allows you to connect to more than one carrier and/or wifi hotspots for making phone calls or using data. I was a T-Mobile customer before Project Fi, so this plan keeps my access to T-Mobile, while adding Sprint and any public wifi that registers as strong enough to support voice/data.

The plan is $20 for unlimited talk minutes and text + $10.00 per gigabyte of data. The idea is that having quick switch to open wifi will cut down on data needs. Since my phone number is a Google Voice number, trying out the service is really easy… although transferring a number over is as easy as transferring a number to any other carrier.

Why switch? I currently use T-Mobile’s “not that well-advertised” $30 plan; it is unlimited data (although throttled after a few gigs of use) with 100 mins of talk per month. This plan requires either rooting or additional payment for tethering. It’s a cheap plan and it works pretty well, but there are many T-Mobile dead zones (including my house!) and I tether often, so it’s annoying to have to face dropped calls and to keep rooting every time Google releases a new android version. Project Fi is more expensive per gig, but calls/texts are unlimited and they refund any unused data credits each month, so you literally pay for only the data you use. If you need more data in a certain month, you’re billed for the additional data at $10.00 per gig. I’m banking on public wifi handling most of my data needs… hopefully most everything except turn-by-turn directions and tethering.

Hopefully Project Fi offers solid switching between T-Mobile, Sprint, and public wifi. In any case, both plans are off-contract, so switching back is as easy as switching out the sim card.

Project Fi currently requires a Nexus 6, 5x, or 6p, and you get some benefits from purchasing a new Nexus directly through Project Fi. You can pay for your phone over time without fees or financing, and they throw in a half-price case. Unrelated to Project Fi, Google throws in a $50 credit to the Play Store, so if you’re looking to escape from the iPhone or Windows Phone, you can now replace a good number of apps for the price of a Nexus… which is really the only Android phone I’d suggest buying at this point.

Phone Hardware and Carriers so far:

  • Nokia feature phone (AT&T, Cingular)
  • OG Motorola Droid (CDMA – Verizon)
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus (CDMA – Verizon)
  • LG Nexus 5 (GSM – unlocked – T-Mobile)
  • LG Nexus 5x (GSM – unlocked – Project Fi)