Project Fi: the First Two Weeks

When I got accepted to Google’s Project Fi, I was very excited to see what it had to offer. Now I’m giving it the side eye. Here is my First Two Week’s impression of Google’s Project Fi. Before I get into it my description of their service, let me explain what Project Fi is. Simply put, it is Google’s version of a cell phone carrier service, much like T-Mobile and AT&T.

Now that’s out the way, let’s get into my hands-on experience with the service. First off, before one can join Project Fi, one must be invited, or ask for an invite. The latter is how I got in. After weeks of waiting to see if I got in or not, which I did, I waited a few more weeks to get a SIM card. By the way, if you want to use this service you must already own a Nexus 6 or you can buy one once you get the SIM card.

Set Up

I had a bit of difficulty setting up my phone online, but that was because I already had cell phone service with T-Mobile with my Nexus 6. But believe it or not, I was able to chat with a live person to help me set up the service on my phone. In order to use the service, you have to download the Project Fi app. The app will allow you to view and manage your account on the fly. The best part of the app, in my opinion, is the ability to check every aspect of your account using Wi-Fi or cell service. This is better than the T-Mobile account management app, which only allows certain parts of your account to be visible when the phone is attached over 3G/4G. From checking your daily usage, managing your plan, to seeing your next billing cycle and support, the app is fast and simple to use.  All this is of course after you swap out your old SIM for the Fi SIM, which comes in a very nice small package along with a paper clip that doubles as a SIM extraction tool to pop out the SIM card tray. After a few restarts, picking a plan, and whether you want a new number or to port the one you already have, you are ready to go.

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Use

Once I was up and running, my phone was connected to LTE right away with connection speeds in the area of 23 mbps down and 16 mbps up, which put a huge smile on my face. I should mention I live in New York and these speeds are probably because not many people are using the service. I don’t have these sort of speeds consistently, just like any other service. One thing I notice is that the hand off between Wi-Fi and cell service can be very slow at times. At times it took up to an hour to reconnect to the cell towers unless I restarted the phone.

Streaming media, downloading apps and uploading pictures and videos is very fast with very little buffering when streaming, and phone calls are just as great.

Text messages on the other hand, seems to be a challenge for the Fi Network. When setting up the service you are asked to manage your text messages via the hangouts app. Which merges all of your texts, voicemail and messages from Hangout into one app, which is nothing new. All of this content is mirrored on the desktop version of Hangouts as well, albeit in bit choppy execution. I have met massive delays in receiving texts, voicemail, and Hangout messages via the Hangouts app since joining Fi. Other messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger, work fine.

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Overall the Fi Network performs well when it comes to data and phone calls, but falls short when dealing with hand-offs to cell towers and the shaky integration of messaging via the Hangouts app. Check back in another two weeks for my One Month Review of living on Project Fi!

 

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