The typical phone contract in America is a two year commitment with early termination fees to discourage you from leaving. I used my previous phone out of contract for a while to wait for my wife’s phone to end its contract. Now, I am not willing to get back into contract and would not recommend it.
Consumers give up too much freedom and flexibility with contracts that benefit the carriers while subsidized plans are making way for complex payment plans. In the past 3 months, I have had as many carriers. I left Sprint where I was paying $30 per-line, per-month after taxes, or $60/month for 1GB of data each, with their Framily plan and 8 other Framily members (random people on the Internet). With new phones, I wanted to experience the “better network” and was willing to pay a little more for faster speeds and better connectivity with Verizon.
I bought the Nexus 6P and my wife got the Nexus 5X outright and we activated the phones as new Verizon customers. Unfortunately, the service change was unnoticeable. Browsing the web was the same speed and connectivity was actually worse. I noticed several buildings with no service, where Sprint worked fine previously. For this lesser experience, I was paying just shy of $90/month after taxes for 1GB of data shared between the two lines. Verizon also has a ridiculously high $40 per-line activation fee. Fortunately, this was with the new “The Verizon Plan“, so it is not a contract. That also had its downside because without a contract my employee discount did not apply.
With no contract and disappointing service at a higher price, I was free to shop around. T-Mobile announced some intriguing changes with certain video services not counting against your data usage with their Binge-On campaign but it would cost even more, granted it would be for a lot more data. T-Mobile does not have an activation fee and gives BYOD customers a free sim card and was running a promotion for prepaid plan sim cards at 99 cents.
Not really wanting to pay more for a service that has been sufficient thanks to WiFi at home and work, I continued to look around. I heard a lot of good things about Google’s experiment, Project Fi and decided to hurry my invite along by experimenting with service areas. A nearby city was covered and soon my invite was sent my way. I filled out the rest of the account information and they had a sim card sent my way days later.
Project Fi is only compatible with the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 6 phones but as I already had those phones, I was all aboard. Project Fi costs $30.41 per-line, per-month with 1GB of data each and unlimited talk and texting. Each additional GB is $10 but you also get a refund for unused data. For example, if I only use 500MB of data in a month, I’ll get a credit for $5. This brings the price even lower.
Project Fi works by using WiFi when cellular service is not available. For cell service, it roams between the strongest network between T-Mobile and Sprint. Google also uses a VPN to connect to other known available WiFi services.
So far, the cost and service has been great. With a better signal in certain buildings, the battery life is back to normal usage. If I had signed a two year with Verizon, I would have either been paying an expensive ETF or riding out the sub-par service at higher cost. Your mileage may vary with network coverage in your area but for my usage Project Fi has been perfectly sufficient.