There are two types of Google Fi compatible phones in the US at the moment: Google’s Pixel line, and Samsung’s Galaxy S series (most notably, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 8). There are a lot of reasons to choose the Galaxy S9 or Note 8 over the Pixel, so let’s run through some of the pros and cons of each.
Price of Mobile Phones:
The Google Fi compatible phones are Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 8. The Pixel is the only phone available that is completely compatible with the Google Fi service.
There’s no question about it, you’re going to need a bigger phone than the Pixel if you plan on using Google Fi. The Galaxy S9 and Note 8 are both large phones that are pretty much at the upper limit of what you can fit in your pocket or purse.
The Pixel 2 has a screen size of 5.6″ and 4.95″ respectively, while the Galaxy S9 has 5.8″ and 6.4″. The Galaxy Note 8 has 6.3″, but I consider it to have a large screen size due to its curved edges.
This is probably one of the biggest deciding factors between the two. The Pixel has a slightly larger battery than the Galaxy S9 and Note 8, so you’re probably going to get a slightly better battery life out of the Pixel. You’re going to also have a larger volume of phone calls and data usage to work with with the Pixel.
Both the Pixel 2 and Galaxy S9/Note 8 have all of the features you’d expect from a modern smartphone: WiFi, cellular data, 4G, etc. I doubt you’ll ever feel any different using the devices.
The Samsung phone comes with a variety of additional features that most folks won’t use, like Google’s One Time Password (Google Authenticator), Android’s “smart lock” function, and other options in Samsung’s “customization” menu.
The Samsung phone is probably the best option if you like Samsung’s hardware or its software (such as its “smart lock” feature), but I’m actually not sure which one is better for the long-term. I feel like you will need to decide whether you like the hardware or the software better in order to make the correct choice.
Other Things to Consider
If you have kids and want them to be able to make calls with the same device as you, you’re probably going to want a smaller screen. I would recommend the Pixel because it has a screen size that will work with a tablet. If you want to use a bigger screen size (e.g. 6.3″) and don’t care about a small screen, you’ll probably want the Galaxy S9.
If you like Samsung’s software and services, you’ll want to choose a phone from the Galaxy S series, but if you want to use Verizon’s CDMA and T-Mobile’s GSM services with the phone, the Pixel is going to be the better choice.
Overall, I think there are enough considerations that it will depend on your personal preferences and needs. There are a lot of great phones out there, and Google Fi is a great service that allows you to get an almost unlimited amount of data on your phone.
How to Sign Up
Head over to https://www.google.com/fi/ and sign up. If you don’t see your phone listed there, go to your “accounts” page, click on “Google Fi” under “Add to My Project.” Then, add your phone as a new device and it should show up as the primary device for you.
If your Google Fi is not compatible, and you want to switch your primary phone to another one, you can switch your primary phone by going to the “Sign up” page again and then changing your phone.
Why do I need the SIM card?
If you have never used the SIM card before, this might be a good time to start. SIM cards can be a pain in the ass to set up, but once you’ve got one in place, it’s totally worth it. The SIM card is the only piece of hardware you’ll need to sign up with Google Fi. You can also choose to use a prepaid SIM card or to get a phone contract with T-Mobile or AT&T.
As long as you don’t want to switch your current phone provider, you’ll be able to use all of the services that are included with the phone. If you want to use a SIM card from a different carrier, you’ll need to add a new SIM card to your Google Fi phone and turn it into a temporary phone. You can then use the SIM card that you added to use with another carrier. You have to need to get a mobile phone plan to use the internet.
The SIM Card
For the SIM card, I highly recommend sticking with a T-Mobile SIM card. They’re much easier to get set up than AT&T and Verizon SIM cards. The SIM card that Google Fi sends you will already be set up to work with a T-Mobile phone.