Project Fi: Initial Impressions

I have recently made the switch to Project Fi. Fi is Google’s cell service that runs on wifi and Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks. If you don’t already know all about it, read about it here.

I have been a metro pcs customer since I got my first cell phone. Honestly, there hasn’t been a reason to switch until now. I am surrounded by people who think that a cell phone contract is some sign of success or wealth. Those people often question why I don’t move to AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon. My response is always the same: The service worked for my needs and the cost was the same every month.

Why did I make the switch

  • I can use my cell number with google hangouts.
  • I can get a pure android device with no contract.

Using my cell number with hangouts

This is amazing. Imessage has been the one advantage the iOS ecosysystem has over android. That advantage is gone thanks to project fi. I can text and call on my phone, ipad, and macbook.  To be clear, google hangouts is nothing new. Project fi allows you to port your carrier number to use with hangouts. In the past, you could only use hangouts with a google voice number. I have a google voice number, but I have had my carrier number for years and the important people in my life have that number.

Pure android phone with no contract

As I was with metro pcs since I got my first cell phone, I have never had a cell phone contract. At this point, you couldn’t pay me to sign one. The only thing a contract gives you is the ability to pay for a device over time instead of paying for it all upfront. That’s not worth being told when you can buy a new phone and having to pay outrageous early termination fees if you ever want to jump ship.

One thing I have always loved about my ipad is that it’s pure iOS. There is no samsung, LG, motorola bloatware loaded on it. That fact drew my attention to the nexus line of phones which are not available on the pre-paid carriers. So I wished, hoped, and waited for the day when I could get a nexus with no contract. That day is here!

Marshmallow is amazing. I won’t go into the ends and outs of what it can do. You can google that and find plenty of blogs that go into detail on the subject. I will say that the do not disturb setting is awesome. When you turn that on, all the notifications come through, but the phone doesn’t vibrate and the screen doesn’t light up. In the past, I could only accomplish this with airplane mode, which meant that I didn’t know when someone had really sent me a text.

Do not disturb has different options: 1) total silence, 2) alarms only, and 3) priority only. Then there are sub options under that. One of the options is to turn off do not disturb when your phone alarm goes off. Let’s say you turn on DND before you go bed and then set an alarm to wake you up in the morning. It’s awesome to not have to remember to turn off do not disturb.

Porting my phone number

This part was relatively painless. I received the phone late on a Friday morning. I immediately unboxed it and input my metro pcs account info in the project fi app to start the phone number transfer. I then started to work on my apps and settings. After two hours, I reached out to fi support. Apparently, there was a queue of number transfers which explained why mine hadn’t happened within the usual time frame. I waited two more hours, something started to happen, but I got a message saying the pin for my metro pcs account was wrong. I knew that wasn’t the case and called again. The fi specialist saw the same message. While we were talking, I typed the pin again and the line went dead. I could not make calls on my old phone. For about an hour, I had no phone.

I had plans to head out, so I’m glad the actual transfer didn’t take that long. Because I had been waiting in the queue for so long, I considered heading out with the old phone and leaving the new one at home. Then I thought the number transfer could happen while I was out and then I would have no phone. I suggest that if you have to leave home before the transfer happens, take both phones with you. That way if your turn in the queue comes up and the transfer happens, you are not out and about without a phone.

I did have to adjust to no more unlimited data

I have had to get use to thinking about the data I am using. Fortunately, fi does a great job of connecting to wifi first. Since I have wifi at home and work, I don’t worry about it too much. Furthermore, marshmallow does a great job of managing app activity, which cuts down on background data usage.

I checked to see how much data I was using before I considered making the switch to fi. Google maps was of great concern; it doesn’t use nearly as much data as I thought it did. Most months I use between one and two gigs of data. In the extreme month, I hit 3 gigs. So with fi basics and 3 gb’s of data, my bill comes to $50 a month plus taxes and fees. On metro pcs, my bill was $60 so I am trying to stay very close to that number.

I will try out the service for a month or two and see how I feel. If it’s a flop, I can always go back to metro pcs. Questions? Comments? Post below.