Best Phone for International Calls, Texts, and Data – Part 1: Introduction

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Best Phone for International Calls, Texts, and Data – Part 1: Introduction

Million Mile SecretsBest Phone for International Calls, Texts, and Data – Part 1: IntroductionMillion Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

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.

Best Phone For International Calls Texts And Data Part 1 Introduction
Google’s Project Fi Could Be a Great Option For Staying Connected to Friends and Family While Traveling the World!

I’ll explain how it works and more details about the service!

Project Fi Index:

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:

The network works in 135+ countries, including popular travel destinations like Canada, France, India, Italy, Australia, and many more world-wide.

Best Phone For International Calls Texts And Data Part 1 Introduction
With Project Fi, You’ll Have Cell Phone and Data Service in 135+ Countries

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:

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

Note:   If you get a new number or transfer your existing cell phone number, you will lose your Google Voice number and won’t be able to get it back.

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.

Best Phone For International Calls Texts And Data Part 1 Introduction
Save Money Using Project Fi to Make Calls While Traveling Internationally. You’ll Pay $0.20 Per Minute Instead of ~$2 Per Minute Charged by Other US Carriers

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?

Link:   How to Make Free Calls While You’re Overseas!

Link:   Our Experience Using T-Mobile’s Free In-Flight Wi-Fi & Overseas Texting and Data

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.

Bottom Line

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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Have been on Fi for 5 months (switched from AT&T/iPhone), it’s been working fine for me. Fi is not for the heavy data users though as you’ll end up paying a lot more on data ($10 per gig). If you download the free app “FiSwitch”, you can see the network history and what you’re currently connected to (T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, or Next Carrier); you can manually switch network if need be (never tried, it requires manually entering some codes/numbers). I’m in the Dallas area and are mostly on T-Mobile (sometimes Sprint).

For international travels, I really like the fact that I can call and send/receive texts to U.S. #’s for free when I’m connected to Wi-Fi (didn’t not pay a dime when I had to call corporate travel card when I was overseas for work. I would’ve racked up a hefty international phone bill if I wasn’t on Project Fi). Haven’t had a lot of data point, but personally I was able to use Fi in Shanghai and Japan for minimal data usage. There are some mixed reports on international data coverage and how well it works (check out the Fi forum), but it sounds like there are more successes than fails.

Glad T-Mobile is working for some. For me, I tried T-Mobile but service in my area was very unreliable and spotty. I live in major metropolitan area so this was a surprise. Gave it a month, than had to switch back to AT&T. On the other hand, Google Fi is working great for me at home and abroad.

Works great. Love the 6p. Went to Japan took 4days to get the international things to work. They said i just needed to change 3 settings on my phone. Guess there was more to it. Make sure you use a g mail e mail address won’t work if you don’t.

“It could cost ~$2 per minute to make an on other US carriers, like AT&T or Verizon, depending on where you call from.”

Love how T-Mobile is omitted from that sentence.

I don’t get it ? Why go to all this extra trouble and expense? I have been on T-Mobiles new plan and it offers all of this and also includes the extra benefit of unlimited calls to/from Canada/Mexico/USA, plus no need to buy a new phone! I even used my iPhone to teacher to my laptop while in the E.U. It worked great and I did not incur any additional expense! !!

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