Google Project Fi has been around for a couple of years now and honestly, the service is doing pretty well in a market where so many other carriers exist.
Of course, it’s true that Google Project Fi is not necessarily the best carrier out there, but the network definitely meets the needs of many people just as they’d expect. However, one thing that is kind of becoming a concern for many, including here at Nashville Chatter, is the number of devices that are supported on Fi.
In order to activate Project Fi, you need to grab any of the latest Google Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Pixel or Pixel XL phones. Even though the Nexus 6 is compatible, no one wants to buy a phone that is no longer supported in terms of software updates. Besides, good luck finding one!
Due to the love many people have had for the Google Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, Project Fi has seen quite an impressive growth rate since its inception. However, the market is changing fast, with more devices coming in with high-end hardware and features, yet priced at about $400 or below. For the Nexus loyalists who are already into Fi, it will be hard making the switch to these amazing phones since they are not compatible with the Google service.
The worst case here is that Google doesn’t seem to be planning a release of devices that are compatible with Project Fi yet priced at below $400 – at least anytime soon. At the moment, the only devices that are available via Fi are the new Pixel phones, which start at $649, and the Nexus 6P that goes for $399. The latter is a great device, but it will no longer be receiving software updates after next year.
For those who love compact devices like me, the Nexus 5X was an amazing catch at $199 on Project Fi, however, the phone is no longer in stock. Being a 2015 budget phone, the performance of the phone has started deteriorating, something that might tempt many to make the switch to a newer and more powerful device.
Since the only other compact device that supports Project Fi is the Google Pixel, which costs a whopping $649, many might soon be ditching Fi just because of the price of this phone. As noted, the Nexus 6P is available at a decent price, but similar to the Nexus 5X, it won’t be supported for much longer and it also comes with a massive 5.7-inch display screen, which is just uncomfortable for quite a good number of people.
While it’s possible that the release of the Google Pixel 2 will lead to discounted prices for the original Pixel, don’t expect this price cut to be significant enough to compete with the sub-$400 smartphones in the market. So, what does this mean? It means that people will leave Project Fi just because they can’t find suitable replacements for the Nexus 5X or even Nexus 6P as far as price, performance, and compatibility are concerned.
Google Project Fi has quite a number of goodies that make people love it. For instance, you only pay for the data you use. In case of an overpayment, you’ll be refunded the extra amount at the end of the month. The service doesn’t have any extra charges for tethering and you also get no roaming fees in a massive 135 countries globally. When visiting these countries, call rates are favorable and you still get to use the same data package. Many carriers tie people to contracts that require a fee in order to leave. Well, Google Project Fi doesn’t, which also means you can leave anytime you wish to.
According to Google, the only reason why Project Fi is limited to Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P and the Pixel phones is that only these devices have the necessary hardware needed to support this network. We all know Google did not make any of these devices, something that should open the door for the tech giant to work with other third-party OEMs to bring Fi-compatible devices to the market.
One thing that would still stand in the way of many Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P users as far as making the switch to these non-Google devices would be the software experience. Stock Android is great, but having a third party device means dealing with skinned versions of the OS. Security updates won’t come directly from Google, which may slow the entire process of receiving updates. But does this mean you pay $600+ just so as to stay on Project Fi, especially when there are great and affordable phones such as the Huawei Honor 8, ZTE Axon 7, OnePlus 3T and others?
Well, for me, making the switch to another wireless carrier might be an easier option than shelling out $649 for a Google Pixel phone and I am confident that this will be the case for many others unless Google steps in with more budget devices that are compatible with Project Fi.
What do you think? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.