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mtn
mtn MegaDork
9/4/18 11:26 a.m.

I'm an iPhone guy. Have been since I got my first smartphone, which was only 3 years ago, but I digress. I'm on my 2nd iPhone--there was a small period when I had an Android in the middle there. Did not care for it, so I went back to the iPhone. 

 

But now I want to try Project Fi. What are the phone options? I'd be interested in 3 potential avenues: 

1: The smallest phone

2: The cheapest phone

3: The best value overall

 

Any thoughts/experiences? 

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
9/4/18 11:34 a.m.

I didn't know of project Fi. Sounds interesting, but it's only 2G at my house according to their website. Free data when you go over is an interesting take on things.

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
9/4/18 11:36 a.m.

The 5X and 6P are getting a bit long in the tooth. I've killed 3 phones with the bootloop issue the 5X has and LG is running out of boards to replace them with. They're 3 years old at the moment so they're a poor choice.

The OG Pixel still works pretty well but, again, it's getting a bit old as it's now almost 2.

My wife has a Pixel 2 (not the XL the smaller one) after killing her last 5X. It works well and is solidly built. That seems to be the way that Google is moving with the Android ecosystem so they're a good choice. The Pixel 3 is due out soon so ProjectFi is likely going to be clearing out their stock of Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL's within the next month. If you want a good deal on a solid phone that's what I'd be watching for.

The Moto phones are pretty meh from all the reviews I've seen.

I haven't seen any feedback on the new LG phones but the 5X left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. The main point of contention is how combative LG was when I needed to get my phones repaired due to their berkeley-up. The ProjectFi folks were awesome about sending my wife a replacement because we carry insurance on her phone due to the proximity of the children.

I'm still happy with Fi's service. Their customer service is very responsive and easy to deal with, the international calling has saved my bacon a couple times, WiFi phone/SMS makes it easy to use at home where I have broadband but no reception, and they're so inexpensive compared to Verizon, based on my use, it's embarrassing. I also love the automatic VPN on public networks.

singleslammer
singleslammer PowerDork
9/4/18 12:12 p.m.

Try Republic Wireless. Same basic idea (unless Fi has changed in the last year) but a little cheaper. Runs on Sprint but works well across wifi at work/home. If you work in a basement with mediocre or no service but have wifi, it is great. More phone options too. Sorry to not actually answer your question. 

ebelements
ebelements New Reader
9/4/18 12:19 p.m.

I was an early adopter of Fi, back when you had to request an invite. LOVE it. Great customer service, phones with pure android software, and cheap as all getout. Worked great in Costa Rica and in Italy—no additional costs, it just worked. 

Started out with a Nexus 6P, great phone until the battery wore out at about 2 years and change. Was going to have the battery replaced (for just under 100) but they were running a deal on the MotoX4, and were also going to give me 130-ish for my 6P, so for $100 out of pocket I can't be mad at a new phone. It's waterproof, fast, has SD storage, battery is big, and is getting current android updates. Camera is fine I guess—if you're coming from an iPhone though, it just won't do. 

Have friends with Pixels and Pixel 2s—great phones. If you're fine with the pricing, you won't be disappointed.

mtn
mtn MegaDork
9/4/18 12:28 p.m.
singleslammer said:

Try Republic Wireless. Same basic idea (unless Fi has changed in the last year) but a little cheaper. Runs on Sprint but works well across wifi at work/home. If you work in a basement with mediocre or no service but have wifi, it is great. More phone options too. Sorry to not actually answer your question. 

No coverage at my folks vacation house--both Google Fi and Ting (which is what I'm on now) do have it.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin PowerDork
9/4/18 12:47 p.m.

I've had a 5X for ~2.5 years now.  It works and does phone things just fine.  It did have an issue and I had to send it back to LG to have it fixed once (for free).  I have to imagine a Moto X4 or G6 would be a solid replacement, but I will follow this thread to find out.  I'll probably replace it in the next year or so.

I had an iPhone for 4 years.  I don't mind android whatsoever, and I kind of like the Google-verse.  Hangouts/text integration is going away unfortunately :( but unlimited photo backup from the phone is great.

I love the service.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
9/4/18 1:50 p.m.

I have a question about the daily expereice of using Fi....

 

As i understand it, Sprint service where needed, WiFi service where available.  Right?

Now, at home and office yeah, you have access to the Wifi by logging into it once and it remembers you, but.

At places like McD's and Panera for example, they offer wifi but you have to authenticate every time.  At least I have to authenticate and accept terms of service every time I visit there with my traditional android phone.  Is it the same with your Fi handset?

 

My point is that there is lots if wifi available in a lot of places but as a Fi customer are you just constantly clicking to log-in/verify/accept at all these public locations?  

If yes, does that become ridiculously cumbersome and you find yourself just leaving it in Sprint for everywhere other than work and home? 

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
9/4/18 1:52 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

Short answer: No.

Most places like that auto authenticate ProjectFi customers or the WiFi Assistant recognizes the "high quality" network and jumps on. In either case, the phone then opens a VPN back to Google to protect you from the public network. It displays a key up top to show the VPN is active on the public network as well.

Here's the long answer.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
9/4/18 1:54 p.m.

In reply to The0retical :

So, every time you go into McD/Panera/etc you are just automatically on their wifi?  

How can I make my regular android handset do that just for data services?  

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
9/4/18 1:56 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

The assistant is a bit finicky sometimes about the network but in essence yes it just jumps on where it can once the network has been verified as high quality and reliable. I'm not sure what the grading criteria is or how it's actually verified by Google though. They seem to keep that a bit of a secret.

WiFi Assistant which works in this manner is only available for Nexus and Pixel phones.

lnlogauge
lnlogauge Reader
9/4/18 2:19 p.m.
singleslammer said:

Try Republic Wireless. Same basic idea (unless Fi has changed in the last year) but a little cheaper. Runs on Sprint but works well across wifi at work/home. If you work in a basement with mediocre or no service but have wifi, it is great. More phone options too. Sorry to not actually answer your question. 

Republic was a deal, back when unlimited wasn't a thing. Now if you use it more than 2-3 gigs, its not a deal. 

I pay 40 a month for unlimited tmobile. I use a moto G6, which is a Fi choice as well. If you're decided on Fi, and you don't want to spend 600, the 200$ price is hard to beat. Its not a premium phone, but the premium features aren't worth the 400 to me. Phones get lost, phones break. having a 1000$ piece of glass in my pocket is dumb to me. 

Not everyone thinks its meh.

https://www.engadget.com/2018/04/19/motorola-moto-g6-g6-play-hands-on/

I love motorola phones. they leave android alone, and they are reasonably priced. I've had Moto X's, Moto Pure, Moto G4, G5, and now the G6. 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin PowerDork
9/4/18 2:35 p.m.

Its not intrusive at all.  I'm only automatically on wifi a small amount of the time, unless I'm at home.  90% of public places I still log in just as any normal user one.

 

There isn't really a 'toggle' to go between cellular and wifi.  If wifi is there and good, it uses it, otherwise it goes over cell.  

ProDarwin
ProDarwin PowerDork
9/4/18 2:37 p.m.
lnlogauge said:
 if you use it more than 2-3 gigs, its not a deal. 

This is the case for any pay-as-you-go service pretty much.  I would hope anyone looking at Project Fi doesn't use that much data.

clutchsmoke
clutchsmoke SuperDork
9/4/18 4:19 p.m.

Just signed my wife up for Project Fi recently. Hit one of us Fi users up for a referral code if you decide to switch. You get a $20 credit right away.

Just to clear things up - project fi uses Sprint, T-mobile, and US cellular towers. Switches between them seamlessly to deliver the best signal. 

I got my wife a pixel 2 for many reasons. Pixel 2 uses a Samsung screen that is AMOLED. Excellent looking screen. Google will support it with OS updates for the next 2 years and security updates for 4 iirc. Camera is good and the phone is the right size. And it seems to have minimal reported issues. 

The XL is too big and uses an LG screen that has had a lot of issues. If you want the cheaper phones I'd go Motorola, but the camera is slow, laggy, takes not great photos. If this is acceptable get one. The other cheap phones have more issues than I deem acceptable to deal with. 

failboat
failboat UberDork
9/4/18 4:38 p.m.
ProDarwin said:
lnlogauge said:
 if you use it more than 2-3 gigs, its not a deal. 

This is the case for any pay-as-you-go service pretty much.  I would hope anyone looking at Project Fi doesn't use that much data.

Even if they do, the maximum prices on Project Fi are pretty much in line with T Mobile which is probably the cheapest "big" provider out there.  I have no idea what data I use because we're unlimited, I stream several hours of music on a daily basis.

This seems really interesting to me (T Mobile customer) as there's a chance it may have better coverage for us in certain areas we frequent. The only downside for me is we are not even halfway through paying for my wifes Samsung Galaxy S8 that wont even work on the Project Fi network.  Sigh. 

 

I think ill keep truckin with my LG G4 until it needs replacement and ditch the wife on T mobile and try Project Fi for myself. 

RevRico
RevRico UberDork
9/4/18 4:58 p.m.

I have the android one Motorola X4.

It's decent enough, but I despise that the battery isn't replaceable. After almost a year the battery is staying to show its age, but the phone has been flawless. No bloatware, the internal memory is a bit berkeleyy in my opinion, but it's a good phone. 

I much prefer LG camera software, but with updates the camera is getting better. 

I've found 3 places I don't get any service, but no one gets service in those places so it's not a huge deal. Much better and cheaper than when I was on Sprint, but I am looking forward to some newer phone options. 

Curtis
Curtis UltimaDork
9/4/18 5:29 p.m.

I'm on Fi and love it.  The three networks mean that I don't get quite as much LTE as I did with Verizon or ATT, but its still 95% as much.  but if you overlay the coverage maps of Verizon, ATT, and Fi, you'll find that you get more rural service (thanks to US Cellular).  Its 2G and 3G, but at least it's service where the big two fail.  In general, I would actually say that loss of service and dropped calls have been reduced with Fi compared to ATT.  This includes the lake where I never had service at all, now I can get a few bars here and there.

In fact, in the three places I always had trouble, I now have 4 bars of LTE on Fi.

I got a Pixel 2 (not XL) and it is a nice downsize from my previous S5 Active.  Great screen, unlimited free google drive, wicked fast processor, great battery.  Its rare that I can't find a downside, but I haven't found one and I've had it since Feb.

Fi's service is great for me.  Works in almost every country, it's cheap, and it operates completely in the background.  The phones have no bloatware, no one from Google calls you trying to get you to upgrade with cable and internet, nothing.  You give them a credit card number and it auto-drafts every month (my biggest bill was $46 but I'm not a data-heavy guy).  There is an app on the phone already that lets you monitor your bill and data usage, but it doesn't beat you over the head with notifications or ads.

The transition to Fi was super seamless, but that might be because I had an android before.  Super easy GUI, clear things like "do you want to install the same apps" and boom.  5 minutes.  You order it, give them the PIN or password for your old service, and they do it all.

I would recommend it to anyone... who is willing to accept one of the phones they offer.

If you get it, request a free data-only sim for an old phone.  Nice to have if you're in Latvia and your primary phone dies but you need to communicate or navigate.

Be aware of the fine print.  It's not misleading or devious, just hard to comprehend and the website doesn't do a good job of explaining it.  When you travel to foreign countries there is often a 20 cent per minute charge for phone calls, but most countries they allow free wifi calls.  I spent the whole summer in Canada and made several calls, some wifi, some cell (hence the $46 bill last month), but I have loved every minute that I've had both the phone and the service.  But data is the same $10/gb anywhere in the world.  It's nice to know I can travel pretty much anywhere and the only extra charges I have to pay is 20 cents a minute if I don't have wifi for a call.  In the past when I went to Canada, I was careful to stay on airplane mode all summer and not make any calls.  This year I used it just like I would here in the states and it was STILL cheaper than airplane mode on ATT

BTD
BTD Reader
9/4/18 11:50 p.m.

I have it and also love it. I'm using a Pixel 2, but my wife has the 2XL. Having both, I prefer the smaller size of the standard 2, but the 2XL is a much nicer looking phone with the rounded screen corners and larger display. I may sell mine and pick up a Pixel 3 when they drop, since it's essentially a slightly larger (perfect size) better Pixel 2.

 

The big advantage other than the cost (I'm on wifi all day) is the international data. Not having to worry about switching sim cards/charges when you're overseas is amazing if you travel a lot. I went to eastern Europe last year and had good service in Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria. It's reassuring since you know you can look up locations/restaurants/translations AND make calls if necessary. 

 

I'm an advocate for Fi, and since there's no contract it's not like you risk anything other than the phone cost to try it out. I think you'll enjoy it. 

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
9/4/18 11:55 p.m.

In reply to Curtis :

When you cross the border Project Fi's app will also issue a push notification for the rate of the current country. It's pretty handy.

I used mine all over Europe, Afghanistan, and few Gulf states. Totally worth it to avoid carrying around an unlocked phone then having to buy a prepaid sim everytime I went somewhere new. I actually gave some consideration to buying a quad sim GSM phone at one point it was getting so bad.

Afghanistan was $.02 a minute off Wifi. Data was still $10/gig. 

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane Dork
9/5/18 9:02 a.m.

I'm also on Fi and a big fan of it.  I think I've had it over a year now.  I'm on a Pixel 2 like the others and completely happy.  I was about to buy the phone outright, but since they offer a 0% payment on it, I just went with that.  Based on my last 10 years of phone-life, I put on the insurance.  I figure if this one dies in the 30-36 month time frame and gets replaced under warranty, I'll still be $200 ahead and I'll drop insurance on the replacement phone.

It's not the cheapest, but it's never laggy, always up to date and has a great camera.

So far, it's had pretty good coverage everywhere I've been around the country.  Not quite as good as Verizon, but well less than 50% of the cost, so I can afford a mile or two without signal in some of the boonies I drive through.   I haven't gotten to try international since I got it, but that'll change next month.

lnlogauge
lnlogauge Reader
9/5/18 9:12 a.m.
RevRico said:

I have the android one Motorola X4.

It's decent enough, but I despise that the battery isn't replaceable. After almost a year the battery is staying to show its age, but the phone has been flawless. No bloatware, the internal memory is a bit berkeleyy in my opinion, but it's a good phone. 

 

what phone made in the last 10 years has a removable battery?

https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Motorola+Moto+X4+Battery+Replacement/103231

 

RevRico
RevRico UberDork
9/5/18 9:25 a.m.

My LG G5 did. Most LGs do, to my knowledge. That's part of why I switched off from Samsung after the Note 3, and also part of why Apple is never a consideration. But the G5 in particular was built to hot swap batteries and other peripherals. 

The 2 biggest things I look at when getting a phone are batteries and SD card support, it just so happened that FI pricing and service coverage were worth giving up the replaceable battery this time. 

I gave up physical keyboards against my will, I'm not giving up batteries or memory cards without a fight. 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin PowerDork
9/5/18 9:28 a.m.

My LG Nexus 5X does not have one.  But 2.5 years in and it seems to be fine.  I will say LG's proprietary fast charge BS is annoying.  Every charger other than the OE charger is very slow.

I hate that I even know/care about that.  Its an appliance.  I don't really want to know or care about stupid details like this.  I just want it to work.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
9/5/18 9:42 a.m.

Another project Fi user here. Next month will be a year with the Pixel 2. 

Only "complaint" I have is the phone was starting to get slow and laggy, did a full reset, and it's back to normal. The Google backup of the device is excellent. 

My phone bill is typically less than $30 per month. 

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