If you subscribe to Google Fi, Google's wireless service, it's about to become easier — and cheaper — to consume a lot of wireless data.
Google is adding an unlimited data plan to its service that includes talk, text and data for $70 on a single line. With escalating discounts on additional lines, two people would pay $120 a month for unlimited data on Google Fi (or $60 per line), while a family of four pays $180 (or $45 per line).
Google Fi already offered an unlimited data plan of sorts, thanks to its Bill Protection feature. Subscribers pay $10 per gigabyte of data used under Google Fi's pay-as-you-go approach — that's now called the Fi Flexible plan — but once you hit 6GB, Google stops charging you even if you keep using more data.
The new unlimited plan is a better deal, since Fi Flexible plan users also have to pay $20 each month for unlimited talk and text. So you'd pay $80 total once you factor in the cost of 6GB (or more) of data usage. Google Fi's new unlimited plan includes the talk and text in its $70 rate, and it throws in a Google One membership that provides 100GB of cloud storage.
We currently rate T-Mobile's Magenta plan as the best unlimited plan out there, and at $70 a month, it costs the same as Google Fi's new unlimited plan. Of course, T-Mobile's rate includes taxes and fees; Google Fi's does not. T-Mobile adds other perks with its Magenta plan such as 3GB of LTE hotspot data and weekly giveaways. But Google Fi appeals to international travelers by letting you use your data overseas in 200-plus countries; T-Mobile does the same, but restricts you to much slower speeds unless you opt for its $85-a-month Magenta Plus plan.
|Unlimited Plan Cost (1 line)
|Unlimited Plan Cost (4 lines)
|Google Fi Unlimited
|$140 (through Sept. 2020; then it's $180)
|Play More Unlimited/Do More Unlimited
|Unlimited & More
Families can find cheaper unlimited plans than what Google Fi now offers. A family of four would pay $160 a month for T-Mobile's Magenta plan, which is $20 less than what that same family pays for four lines of unlimited data with Google. Google's price for four lines is comparable to what Verizon charges for four lines of its new Play More and Do More unlimited plans.
Changes at Google Fi allow you to use just about any phone with Google's wireless service, though if you buy a phone directly from Google, it will be optimized for Google Fi. That means the phone will be able to switch seamlessly between the different cellular networks Google uses to provide its service. (Google Fi's coverage combines the cellular networks of Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular.) In addition to Google's Pixel phones — the flagship Pixel 3 devices plus the less expensive 3a models — Google Fi sells the Moto G7 and Moto G6.
Under a promotion that ends tomorrow (Sept. 18), Google is knocking half off the price of a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL when you buy the phone through Google Fi and activate it on Google's wireless service. Just be aware that Google has announced a press event for Oct. 15 where it's expected to unveil the Pixel 4, which will undoubtedly be available through Google Fi as well.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.