Best Phone for International Calls, Texts, and Data – Part 1: Introduction
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Many folks want to stay connected to family and friends while traveling. I discovered an affordable new option to make it even easier!
So I thought I’d share my experience using Google’s Project Fi. It’s one of the cheapest ways to get data for internet access, send and receive unlimited text messages, and make phone calls in 135+ countries.
I’ll explain how it works and more details about the service!
Project Fi Index:
- Best Phone for International Calls, Texts, and Data – Part 1: Introduction
- Best Phone for International Calls, Texts, and Data – Part 2: How to Sign-Up
- Best Phone for International Calls, Texts, and Data – Part 3: How to Activate
How Does Project Fi Work?
Link: About Project Fi
Project Fi uses Google technology to provide cell phone and data service by partnering with with 3 US carriers including Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. And certain international carriers for when you travel abroad.
With Project Fi, you can use your phone to:
- Download email attachments
- Get GPS navigation
- Stream YouTube videos
- Upload pictures to social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
- Video chat
The network works in 135+ countries, including popular travel destinations like Canada, France, India, Italy, Australia, and many more world-wide.
The best part is Project Fi automatically makes sure you’re on the network that provides the fastest data speeds, which vary between 4G LTE, 3G, or 2G, depending on your location and what networks are available.
You can also connect to safe and reliable public Wi-Fi hotspots, which doesn’t count against your data allowance.
What You’ll Need to Access Project Fi
To use Project Fi, you’ll need one of the following mobile devices:
- Nexus 6P (~$399)
- Nexus 6 (no longer available from Google store)
- Nexus 5X (~$349) Or $199 when you activate through Project Fi
And you’ll need a Gmail address to sign-up. If you sign-up for Project Fi and already have a Google Account with Google Voice, there are a few things you should know. You can:
- Get a completely new phone number for Project Fi or
- Transfer your existing carrier number or Google Voice number to Project Fi
If you’d like to keep your Google Voice number, you could make a separate Google account before you sign-up for Project Fi.
What Does It Cost?
Link: Project Fi Cost
The monthly cost of Project Fi is very straightforward. You’ll pay:
- $20 per month for unlimited talk (within the US) and text AND
- $10 per month per 1GB of data
The great part is you’ll only pay for the data you use and receive a credit for the remaining amount. For example, if you pay for 1GB of data, but only use half the data allowance (0.5GB) in a month, you’ll receive a credit for $5 toward your monthly bill.
And if you use more than your budgeted data, you’ll pay the same rate of $10 per 1GB. For example, if you use an extra 0.5GB, $5.00 will be added to your next bill. You’ll get an alert from Project Fi before you reach your data budget.
When you make calls while traveling internationally, you’ll pay a flat rate $0.20 per minute. Like when you make a call from Italy to the US.
It could cost ~$2 per minute to make an on other US carriers, like AT&T or Verizon, depending on where you call from.
If you make a call to a US number while you’re connected to Wi-Fi, there is no charge.
And, there’s no annual contract required. You pay your bill monthly based on the previous months’ usage.
You will have to purchase one of the eligible Nexus mobile devices which costs ~$349 to ~$399+, depending on the model. There is an option to pay for the device over 24 months if you’re approved for financing.
Plans are only available for individuals. There are no family or corporate plans.
You won’t pay a termination fee if you decide to switch from Project Fi. But if you decide to pay for the Nexus device over 24 months, you will be required to pay the balance upon termination.
Are There Drawbacks?
The biggest drawback of Project Fi is you’re limited to using 1 of 3 Nexus devices. If you have an Apple iPhone, or different smartphone, Project Fi is not supported. There are reports of folks using iPhones and other unlocked devices with Project Fi, but not all of the features are available.
As mentioned earlier, Project Fi partners with Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular to provide coverage in the US. If you’re in a rural area, high-speed data with these cell providers could be limited.
If you’re looking for alternatives, I’ve written about using using programs like Google Hangouts or Skype to make calls while traveling.
Or if you have T-Mobile, you’ll get unlimited text and data while traveling overseas. Of course, the data speeds vary depending on your location.
I signed up for Google’s Project Fi, which is a cheap way to use data and make calls while traveling internationally. I like that it’s hassle-free without confusing monthly charges.
You’ll pay a flat rate of $20 per month for unlimited talk (within the US) and text. And you’ll pay $10 per month for each 1GB of data. But you’ll get a credit for any unused data.
The biggest drawback if you want to use the service is you’re limited to using 1 of 3 Nexus devices.
If you’re interested, keep reading! Because in Part 2 of this series, I’ll explain how you can sign-up for Project Fi.
Have you used Project Fi? I’d love to hear about your experience!
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