Google’s mobile service, Google Fi, finally has an unlimited data plan. Though the previous sliding-scale “Flexible plan” that defined Fi’s service still remains available, the new unlimited plan offers a more traditional pricing structure, reduced data throttling, and a few other perks. Let’s examine Fi’s new unlimited plan and look at how it stacks up against similar plans from Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T.
What Google Fi’s unlimited plan includes
For pricing, Google Fi’s unlimited plan also has a sliding price scale, with the cost per line decreasing as you add more lines to your plan. The prices at launch are (before taxes):
- One line: $70
- Two lines: $60 per line
- Three lines: $50 per line
- 4-6 lines: $45 per line
No matter how many lines you add, the terms and features of the plan are the same:
- 22GB unthrottled mobile data per line (Google says some videos may be automatically set to 480p resolution even before the 22GB threshold is crossed to reduce data use.)
- Complimentary 100GB of Google One storage for services like Google Drive and Gmail, or for backing up your device’s data via Android Backup.
- Free internet data in 200 international locations
- Free international phone calls in 50 different locations.
- Free access to certain wifi hotspots across the US.
- Like Google Fi’s basic plan, the Unlimited plan is entirely contract-free.
- You can port over your existing phone number to Fi’s unlimited plan, as well as your existing smartphone (provided it’s unlocked and supported on fi’s network).
Compared to Fi’s Flexible plan—which starts at $20 and scales up by $10 for every gigabyte of data you use, capping at $80 if you use 6GB of data or higher—the unlimited plan has the potential to save a bit of money for those who burn through lots of data each month. You’ll also have a higher throttle ceiling of 22GB, versus the Flexible plan’s 15GB threshold (though the press release from Google on the new unlimited plan states that only around one percent of users ever cross the 15GB threshold).
Should Fi users upgrade to the new plan? If you’re comfortable with your current Fi Flexible plan—or you at least can manage to stay within the data allowances and keep your bill lower than the cost of the new unlimited plan—then there’s not much of a reason to change yet. You can even get that 100GB of Google One storage for a measly $2 a month, which makes it hard to justify upgrading for that benefit alone. That said, there’s a definite advantage for existing Fi users who consistently use more than 6GB of data and want the option of an unlimited plan.
Google Fi Unlimited versus AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon
While there are clear reasons for some Fi users to move over to the unlimited plan, things aren’t as simple for customers with unlimited plans on other networks. The unlimited plans from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon all vary quite a bit, but there are a few important quirks that distinguish their plans from Google’s. Here’s the pricing and features for each of the major carriers’ entry-level plans:
- AT&T: $70/month for one line; $120/month total for two lines; $145/month for three lines; $160 month for four lines. 480p media playback. Data subject throttled after 22GBs, or due to high network usage. Plan also includes AT&T live TV service.
- Sprint: $60/month for one line; $100/month for 2-5 lines. 50GB data throttle threshold, plus 500MB of free hotspot data. 480p video streaming on mobile. Price includes a Hulu subscription.
- T-Mobile: $30/month per line (up to four lines). 50GB data throttle threshold, 480p streaming, unlimited 3G mobile hotspot data.
- Verizon: $70/month for one line; $60/month per line for two lines; $45/month per line for three lines; $35/month per line for four lines; $30/month per line for five lines or more. Customers can also get 5G access for an additional $10/month. Unlimited 4G data subject to throttling whenever network congestion is high. Includes six free months of Apple music.
As you can see, the cost of a single-line plan on Google Fi ($70 before taxes and fees) is on the higher end compared to the basic unlimited plans from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. However, there’s a key difference between Google Fi and the others: Google Fi only offers a single unlimited plan, whereas the other carriers have multiple plans beyond their entry-level offerings that pile on extra features—such as free streaming on specific apps, higher throttle thresholds, and in some cases even full 5G support—at a higher cost per line.
This might make Fi’s offering seem modest—or even lacking—by comparison, but many of the extra features in the more expensive plans don’t affect network performance outside of higher data allowances. And while Fi’s 22GB of unthrottled data might seem slim compared to the 50GBs from Sprint or T-Mobile, it’s at least equivalent to AT&T’s entry-level plan, and it’s a much better deal than the ever-present possibility of being throttled by Verizon regardless of how much data you’ve used.
Besides, it’s hard to chew through 22GBs of data even if you don’t live or work near one of the many free wifi hotspots on Fi’s network, so the chances you’ll ever experience any throttling is small. It’s also worth noting that Google Fi’s unlimited plan has some of the best international calling and data support for the price, which could tip the scales in Fi’s favor for those who travel often.
Ultimately, the equation that will help you decide whether you should drop your existing carrier’s unlimited plan and switch to Fi is price versus features (assuming network coverage is similar). If you’re coming from a much more expensive plan elsewhere, you could probably wind up with a much cheaper—albeit basic—unlimited plan with pretty good data allowances and generous cloud storage for each line by swapping to Fi. But if you’re used to the extra features found on other carriers—such as having a premium streaming service or live TV channels bundled into your phone bill—or you simply prefer your existing network, there may not be quite enough to justify the transition.