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Project Fi: Tips And Tricks How To Best Set Up And Use Google’s Mobile Service

Traveling tips and tricks: How to vacation

Fi is a great option as a primary US cellular service for people who don’t use a ton of data, as well as for international travelers whether as a primary or secondary smartphone service. It offers unlimited minutes. Data-wise it charges exactly what you use and the same US-based data price structure applies while you’re traveling in 135+ other countries. You can pause the service up to three months at a time and there’s no set up or cancellation fees.

If you’ve looked into Project Fi and are ready to sign up do take advantage of Google’s sign-up promotion: Apply a referring code from a current Fi user, activate your new Fi account, use it for 30 days and pay for two months of service. You’ll both receive a $20 credit. Here’s my Fi referring code (clicking the link will apply the code automatically). After you activate your own Fi service you can receive credits for up to 10 referrals.

Project Fi by Google

Whether you use my referring link or someone else’s, here’s how to get the most out of your Project Fi service. Some of the suggestions are from my personal experience, the rest from researching various sites about users’ experience and up to date recommendations.  

Google Voice (GV) Number – Once you port (transfer) your number to Fi from your previous carrier you'll lose the GV number on the Google account associated with Fi. If you want to keep your GV number, transfer it to another Google Account before you activate Fi (it can also be done afterwards by contacting Fi support, if within a few days). If you want to use the transferred GV number on the same phone as your Fi number, you can do so via the GV app under the secondary Google account (you can’t forward GV calls to a Fi number).

Ordering the SIM card – Your Fi bill and service won't start until you activate the Fi SIM card, so make sure to order it a couple of weeks in advance. My activation was near-instant, but I initiated the process a couple of business days before my T-Mobile monthly bill would end, just in case. Were it to be delayed, I wouldn't end up paying another Tmobile monthly bill (they don't prorate cancellation). 

Single Plan – Sign up for the lowest (currently 1GB) plan no matter your usage. At the end of the billing cycle you’ll pay for anything over 1GB. The monthly bill is charged upfront and this way you're paying the additional data one month later.

Project Fi now offers group plan for various family plans

Group plan – You can add up to five additional people to your Fi plan for an additional $15/month per user. You can also manage and cap their data per each user.

Roaming – Enable it so that you always get the best possible coverage. It’s free both in US and abroad. That is, it won't incur any additional charges whether you’re roaming or not.

Wi-Fi only – If you want to force your calls and/or data on WiFi only, turn off the cellular radio by tuning on airplane mode then enabling WiFi (with airplane mode on).

Data-only SIM card with Project Fi

Data-only SIM cards – With Fi service you can get additional SIM cards with data-only service for up to nine devices; tablets, secondary smartphones for travel or other family members, etc. There's no charges or fees for these SIM cards (shipping is also free) shipping, you just pay the data used. You can even make phone calls with the data-only SIM setup by incorporating Hangouts’ dialer, with or without the Google Voice app. It can also be used on another device as a dedicated hot-spot, that way it doesn’t drain your main phone’s battery. 

Non-Google phones – Fi service can only be activated via a Google Android phone, but you can then pop the SIM card to another unlocked phone and use it as such if you want (including iPhone with some limitations). In the States a non-Google phone would only use T-Mobile’s network due to its GSM technology. Abroad it should make no difference since most countries’ carries also use GSM.

Hangouts – You can use the app to text and call with Fi on any device, whether phone, tablet or PC. You can optionally set Hangouts so that it doesn’t ring on your PC or tablet for incoming calls.

SignalSpy – Use a third-party app like Signal Spy if you’d like to see which network you're on, to switch to another network manually, to see more up-to-date data usage (Fi app takes a few hours to update this) as well as usage history logs. Fi Switch is another such application.

Project Fi internationally available in over 135 countries

Pausing Fi – You can pause your service for up to 3 months at a time. It reactivates automatically after 3 months, but you can pause it again after a few days. There’s no stated limit as to how many times a year you can pause Fi. While you pause your service the number associated with your Fi account won’t be usable (it will be frozen) and calls and texts to that number will be refused.

Troubleshooting – If you’re in an area with bad coverage and/or are experiencing inconsistent or weak coverage, restart both the cellular and WiFi signals: Turn airplane more on, wait about 30 seconds, turn airplane mode off.

Google Project Fi coverage in US


Here’s some tips and tricks on how to conserve your data usage on your smartphone. They all apply to Fi service and most will also apply to using other carriers, depending on your phone.

Background data – Go to Settings > Apps, select and app and go to "data" or "data usage" and turn off background data access, more so for apps that are set to constantly upload in the background, like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. There’s also the “Data saver” feature from the general Settings menu.

Maps & Navigation – Download Google Maps areas beforehand and use it in offline mode.

Browsing – Chrome has a data saver setting which can be turned on. Overtime it will log and show how much data is has saved.

Xfinity – Many people report that logging once on a Xfinity account makes it possible for you to automatically login to other Xfinity hotspots with the same credentials. Depending on your area and commute this can converse mobile data usage.

Caps – You can set alerts and even cap your monthly data consumption at whatever limit you’d like.

Project Fi support - Customer service is available via email, chat and phone

A couple of times I emailed Fi support they were very prompt and helpful. I love email support: It can be done at your convenience without having to be on the phone or a chat window, plus there's easily accessible records of the conversation.

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