First things first: Does anyone else think that cell phone usage these days is getting really fucking scary? Every time I’m driving I tend to look around and make a mental note on how many people are staring at their cell phones (even those that are driving full speed). It’s getting VERY dangerous to be driving nowadays, especially in highly populated areas. People use the worst judgment when they are driving with regards to their phones. The worst part is that you KNOW whatever they are looking at is probably really stupid like watching a fucking cat video or playing Candy Crush. I feel much safer when I see people picking their nose or singing their favorite awful song (dancing is a bonus). The point of all of this is we should all be using phones less instead of more. These commercials advertising 6 GB data plans seem totally ridiculous to me. I’ve never been picky about my phone or my phone service because I know it all just promotes wasted time. I have been a happy boost mobile customer for 3+ years and never really saw the need for upgrading until recently when my phone ran out of storage (I had a 8GB phone). I was at the point of deleting out texts and apps every few days so I could start receiving texts again (I know, big FIRST world problem). I figured it might be time to splurge on a new phone and when I saw Google had a new service available I decided to try it out.
I broke out my wallet and ordered up the latest and greatest phone for the first time in my life, the brand new Nexus 5x. Lauren will confirm that the first day I got it, I texted her and told her it was too nice for what I used a phone for. I enjoyed a cheap phone that I didn’t need a case or cover for and that I could drop and break and replace for $50 or less. This being said, I have certainly been enjoying having a high quality phone. The main differences I see in it are a faster processer, nicer interface, and a much more crisp camera. Keep in mind that I am NOT a high maintenance cell phone customer. If the service is available for 98% of the time, I’m not going to be that guy who goes on the internet and types a hatred review in all caps. If the phone freezes every now and then (this one hasn’t yet), I’m happy to restart and be off the grid for those 30 seconds. That being said, let’s look at a quick rundown of what the service is and how my experience has been.
COVERAGE: Google’s new Project Fi service works off of Sprint and TMobile’s networks (it connects to the network with the strongest signal). I don’t think I ever complained about coverage at all with my old phone that was only on the Sprint network, so I guess this has to be even better than that. I haven’t had any issues yet, and I’ve heard from several people that my calls are clearer than they used to be. Another nice feature that a lot of companies are implementing now is Wi-Fi calling, so that’s nice if you are always desperate for good service in your ground floor apartment (that was me for the last few years).
SPEED: This is the first time I’ve had a 4g phone, so the internet of course seems pretty fast. I personally thought 3g was more than sufficient for what I used it for. Since I am paying by the GB now, I won’t usually stream anything unless I’m on WiFi anyway.
BILLING: As you would predict, Google makes the billing very easy. You enter in a credit card and they charge it when needed. They send a nice email saying your bill is available and your card will be charged within a few days. The bill is easy to read and you can see how much data you used in the given billing period. I’ve definitely had much more confusing bills with Verizon in the past, where you look at the ever growing list of fees on a monthly basis, and wonder why your bill is always a different amount when you have a flat rate plan.
PHONE: I’m not an expert at hardware or specs so I’ll leave you with this: It’s a brand new phone. My professional assessment beyond that is that it works pretty fucking well all the time. The charger is a new, Type C connection and it charges really fast and keeps a charge for a long time.
PRICE: The whole reason for writing this review. Google Fi costs $20 for unlimited talk and text + $0.01 per MB ($10 per GB) of data used. Given you have sufficient credit; Google will put you on a payment plan for a Nexus 5X at around $16 a month to pay off over 2 years with 0% interest (phone costs a total of $379). Therefore, I have “budgeted” for $20 + $10 for 1 GB of data + $16 for the phone = $46 per month. The first month I used 0.6 GB so I received a $4 credit for next month’s bill. I haven’t decided whether I will pay off the phone early as there is little point to do so, but if I did, my bill would fall to around $30 per month, which is pretty damn cheap. If you are one of those people who need to stream an episode of Game of Thrones every time you ride in a car and use 6 GB a month, you won’t want to switch to Google Fi. I’d say the price is probably advantageous to anyone using 2 GB per month or less.
This was definitely a splurge for me, but I enjoy the pricing structure and the upgraded phone. Without using any data I’m looking at $36 per month (including paying for the phone itself), which was right around what I was previously paying. On my first bill, I used only 0.6GB of data so that landed me at $45. Similar to my choice to switch to MetroMile car insurance, I like having a pay-for-what-you-use structure. When money gets tight or you just feel like saving a little extra, you can do so. Traditionally, a cell phone has a flat cost per month, but with Google Fi, I can decide how much money I want to spend on my phone beyond the $20 for talk and text. Having more control over your spending in a given month is never a bad thing. I think we could all survive a month where we turned off our mobile data and just paid the $20 for service.
From a different standpoint, I felt like I was/still am developing a very bad habit of always looking at my phone and wasting time on it. I don’t foresee that changing drastically anytime soon (I’m working on it), but having a pricing structure where I am actually paying per use when I’m not at home or work might have some positive impact on how attached to it I am. Therefore, it definitely will promote a good habit in that regard.
If you are still paying over $50 for your phone plan, I’d recommend checking out Google Fi and seeing how you like it. It could be an easy way to shave a couple dollars off the ole budget.