I have been experimenting with Google's Project
Fi cellular service
, and thought I would pass along some of my experience.
Fi is attractive to cruisers because it offers reasonably priced voice, SMS, and cellular data in more than 120 countries, including the Caribbean
islands where we cruise
. You can find out more at
The short summary is that this is “By Americans, for Americans” and not really useful for those of us who live outside the US.
is very upfront about the fact that they only support two specific Google-branded cell phones: a Nexus 5X or a Nexus 6P. You can buy one of these phone
from the Project Fi website, at a meaningful discount, but they only ship to US addresses.
Second, in order to apply for service
you need a Google
account that was created within the US. I solved
this problem by creating a new account on one of our infrequent visits to see our daughter in the US.
As for the hardware
, it says quite clearly on the Project Fi website that you can use an existing Nexus phone
, and simply insert a new SIM card. Given the hassles of shipping
, it seemed easiest to source a Nexus phone from a local provider. The discount Google offers would be offset by not paying customs
This was a big mistake. It turns out that there are two versions of each Nexus phone. One sold
in the US, the other sold
in the rest of the world. The “ROW” phones are not supported and do not work
with Project Fi. Oops. This is actually disclosed in a Project Fi FAQ, but it is buried several layers down and extremely easy to miss.
As a final nail in the coffin, even if you get a US-sourced phone, you can only activate the service if you are physically located in the US.
If you are based in the US, or visit there often, I think this is a very reasonable option for cell service. For those of us who are there only occasionally or not at all, it is really completely useless.