Project Fi will establish Google as a new player in the cell phone service provider market competing with a similar service currently run by Republic Wireless (which we love – read our Republic Wireless review here).
Google will act as a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) and will allow you to use two separate 4G LTE networks, Sprint and T-Mobile.
How does it stack up versus Republic Wireless? Here are my thoughts.
How Much Will Project Fi Cost Per Month?
Project Fi will cost you $20 per month for unlimited talk, text and Wi-Fi.
You can purchase data in increments of $10 per GB and Google will refund you for any unused data at the end of the month.
In addition, if you go over your data budget, you can buy additional data at the same rate of $10 per GB only paying for what you use.
Of course, you’ll still have to pay any taxes and fees like you would have to on any other network. Overall, the pricing is disappointing as there are already better options for cheaper mobile service.
What Phone Will I Have To Use And How Much Does It Cost
You will have to buy the Nexus 6 smart phone to use Project Fi and the price starts at a whopping $649! You can pay for the phone over 24 months starting at $27 per month. Unfortunately, this is Project Fi’s only cell phone option.
Even though this is a complex phone that looks like it has great features, the $649 up front cost will drive many people away from the service. The phone could probably compete with top of the line android phones, but the fact that it isn’t subsidized will hurt your wallet severely.
Republic Wireless Currently Beats Google’s Project Fi Easily
Even though Republic Wireless currently only uses the Sprint network for their calls, text and data, I feel they have Project Fi beat handily.
To start, the most expensive phone you can get with Republic Wireless, the amazing Moto X (2nd gen), is only $399 and if you want you can get a cheap phone for just $99 with the Moto E. The Moto X (2nd gen) works great and is a top of the line smartphone based on my recent testing and I’ll have a full review in the coming weeks.
That beats Project Fi’s Nexus 6 by at least $250 and by as much as $550 up front.
Next, when you consider the current plans available on Republic Wireless, you’ll almost always come out ahead versus with Project Fi. Don’t want to use data at all? Republic wireless has unlimited talk, text and Wi-Fi for just $10 a month, $10 cheaper than Project Fi.
If you don’t want any cell service and just want to use Wi-Fi for all of your calls and texts, you can get an even cheaper plan at just $5 a month on Republic Wireless.
Even if you want to use data, chances are you’ll come out ahead with Republic Wireless. The $25 unlimited data plan for 3G data only adds $5 per month more than the base Project Fi plan and you get unlimited 3G data. For $40 per month you get unlimited 4G LTE data which only costs as much as 2 GB of data would with Project Fi.
One Cool Google Fi Feature
The one cool feature I really like about Google Fi that Republic Wireless doesn’t offer is the ability to use your phone number with tablets and laptops. You can text, talk or check voicemail on any device that supports Google Hangouts. I have to admit, that’s pretty cool, but it isn’t worth the extra cost to me.
Big Picture Drawbacks of Google Fi
A couple of big potential drawbacks come to mind when I briefly considered Project Fi as a cell phone alternative. First, I already use a ton of Google services and Google has a ton of my information in their hands.
Would I really want to rely on Google for yet another service? Would I want them to have even more data about me based on my cell phone records?
I honestly don’t think adding yet another Google service would be a good idea for me personally. What would happen if Google suddenly gets attacked and goes down? I wouldn’t have access to email or my cell phone.
As far as data goes, I’d rather they not have their hands on any more of my data or other information for the same reasons. If Google gets hacked my cell phone is just one more thing I’d have to worry about under the Google umbrella.
Finally, Google’s Project Fi is currently in invite only mode. You may not be able to get access as they’re slowly rolling it out in different areas and only allowing a limited number of sign ups. Republic Wireless is well past their beta testing stage and is ready to accept anyone who wants to sign up today.
Republic Wireless Will Make Changes Later This Year
Republic Wireless has announced that they will be making significant changes to their plans in the future, but if you are currently a customer or become a customer now you’ll be grandfathered in at the current rates.
Republic Wireless will be doing away with their unlimited data model (for new customers) and will move to a model similar to Project Fi which will pay you back for any unused data at the end of each month from what I understand. No details have been released yet on pricing or how the plans will work, but I imagine Republic Wireless will be able to match or beat Google’s pricing based on their experience in the market.
Republic has also announced plans to add a second network and new phones to their line up in the coming months. They haven’t announced which network will be added, but you will have to buy a different phone if you wish to access the new network Republic Wireless adds.
These changes are exciting and should allow you to use your cell phone in an even more economical way in the future assuming you aren’t a data hog. Republic Wireless seems to be upping their game by adding new features and more reliability as they gain more experience in the market.
The Final Word
While Google is a giant and making a foray into cellular phone service may not be a big deal to them, I think Republic Wireless has them beat on almost every front as they continue to add new features later this year.
If you must have two networks right now, Google’s Project Fi might be your best bet. However, once Republic Wireless releases their new improvements I have a feeling they will have Project Fi beat in that area, too.
I’d stick with the tested leader in the space before venturing out into new waters with Google’s Project Fi. Your wallet will thank you and I think the service will overall be better with Republic Wireless, especially in the long run. While I haven’t tested Project Fi out myself, my wallet wouldn’t be able to justify the additional price for a similar offering.
Ready to switch cell phone providers and save? Check out Republic Wireless’s full offerings on their website today or read my full Republic Wireless review here.
What do you think of the new cell phone service being offered by Google? Will you sign up? Or do you think Republic Wireless is a better deal? Let me know what you’re thinking in the comments below!