Google has loosened its stranglehold on Project Fi, expanding its US cellphone network service beyond its own handsets to competitor smartphones made by Samsung and Apple.
But, be warned: check the supported features before you sign on. And also ask yourself if you want to jump on a network run by one of the hungriest personal data scoffers on the planet.
Initially Project Fi was confined to a small number of handsets sold on the service's website – Pixel variants, a couple of LG phones, and two Moto mobes. Now the number of handsets capable of using the virtual mobile network has dramatically expanded albeit with some caveats.
Google has published an amended list of supported devices, adding "Compatible with Fi" phones to its previous handful of "Designed for Fi" models (which were various Pixels, LG, Modo, Android One and Nexus units).
The “Compatible with Fi” phones are:
- Apple iPhones running iOS 11.0 or higher, including the iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, X, SE, 5S, and 6 through 8 (including Plus models);
- Samsung Galaxy S Series from 6 through 9, the Note 8 and 9, J3 and J7 dated 2017 or later, with Android 7.0;
- Fifteen LG variants with Android 7.0;
- Various Moto Z series, Moto G, Moto E, and Moto One (Android One) units, so long as they run Android 8.0;
- Huawei Mate Series and P Series with Android 7.0;
- OnePlus 3 through 6 with Android 7.0;
- Nokia 7.1, Nokia 8 Sirocco, and the Essential PH-1, all with Android 7.0.
Android phones have to have LTE band 2 and band 4 support to use Project Fi because it piggybacks on three established cellular networks: T-Mobile US, Sprint, and US Cellular.
It's worth noting that “Designed for Fi” phones have a longer feature list than “Compatible with Fi” units. The “Designed for” units get calls text and data on the aforementioned trio of networks, can auto-connect to “2 million secure Wi-Fi hotspots,” get international roaming, and can use the Fi VPN.
Which of these features are supported by “Compatible with Fi” phones is different depending on the device. iPhones, for example, don't get Wi-Fi calling nor visual voicemail, and can't connect to hotspots outside the US.
Sammy users also miss out on Wi-Fi calling, but can get Wi-Fi texting if they use Google Messages; and LG and Motorola owners “might” be able to used Wi-Fi calling. Caveat emptor, and all that. ®