Google Fi (formerly Project Fi) is one of the carriers you can consider while looking to cut down your monthly phone bill. You can also enjoy prioritized data and extended network coverage. But that’s assuming you have the right phones compatible with Google Fi host carriers
Of course, most of the LTE and 5G devices in the market today should work well on Fi service. The company no longer limits its users to Nexus and Pixel phones as they used to. So, you could even use your cheap Motorola without any issue.
Regardless, there are a few crucial factors if you want to make the most with your phone on Google Fi. And in this guide, I’ve summed everything you should know as of today, including the latest improvements on Apple’s iPhone support.
What’s Phones Work Best with Google Fi Service?
As I’ve just said, most LTE and 5G phones are compatible with Google Fi. The network provider has T-Mobile as one of its underlying networks. And if there’s one thing we can agree on, AT&T and T-Mobile, which are GSM carriers, have the most lenient compatibility rules.
Sadly, however, Fi is yet to fully embrace Apple as everyone else. So, my four favorite phones compatible with the network are currently Android, including:
- Best Overall: Unlocked Google Pixel 5 5G-Capable Android
- Best of Deals: Fi-Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G Android
- Best of Replacement: Factory-Unlocked Samsung Galaxy A13 5G
6 Things to Consider Before Bringing a Phone to Google Fi
Before you can bring your phone to Google Fi, you should know:
- Google Fi as an MVNO
Yes, indeed, Google Fi is a mobile virtual network operator (or MVNO) on T-Mobile and US Cellular networks.
But in the Google Fi vs AT&T review, we mentioned your phone will be switching to the strongest signal in your location. Thus, won’t need separate lines or phones like Red Pocket and Consumer Cellular.
Also, this means you can make the most on Google Fi with a phone compatible with T-Mobile and US Cellular frequency bands. Then again, the two host networks have many LTE and 5G frequency bands alike. See below.
|Carrier Network||Primary 4G LTE Bands||Secondary 4G LTE Bands||5G Low-Band Bands||5G mmWave Bands|
|T-Mobile||4, 12, & 71||2, 5, & 66||n71||n41, n258, n258, n260, & n261|
|US Cellular||5 & 12||2, 4, 46, 66, & 71||n71||n260 & n261|
Recommendation: Your Phone will work best in Google Fi if it has at least bands 5, 12, 4, & 71 for LTE coverage. Then, bands n71 and n260/ n261 for 5g connectivity.
- Has Limited Apple Support
Technically, we’ve got many carriers that work better on Apple devices than with Androids. On the list of the phones compatible with Visible and Spectrum, you’ll even notice only iPhones qualify for the smartwatch add-on plan.
On its end, though, Google Fi has prioritized android devices over iOS on its service. A good example here’s the 5G access and WiFi calling, which is unavailable for iPhone users.
There are speculations the two features might be available sometime soon- perhaps from the continued criticisms from the users. But before that happens, you might want to have an Android device to make the most of your Fi service.
- You can Activate eSIM
Yes, Google Fi does support eSIM activation. Thus, you can have a phone with the feature to take advantage of instant activation or dual-SIM mode.
- Supports WiFi Calling
Yet again, Google Fi does support WiFi calling if outside the coverage areas and doesn’t want to pay expensive roaming charges. Only remember no WiFi calling support for Apple devices at this time.
- Gets Prioritized Data
Similar to MVNOs like Verizon’s Xfinity and Spectrum Mobile, Google Fi usually gets prioritized data from T-Mobile. Thus, you’ll have a more usable phone than other traffics during congestion on the host towers.
- Sells Unlocked Phones
Usually, Google Fi can lock phones purchased on an installment agreement to T-Mobile if the owner is late on payments.
But for users who purchase upfront or pay the monthly installment on time, Fi will have the phones fully unlocked. Thus, you should be able to use with SIM card from other compatible carriers without issues.
A Summary of the Best Phones compatible with Google Fi
Before all else, Google Fi is compatible with three different types of phones, including:
- Factory Unlocked: these are the unlocked cell phones that come directly from the manufacturer as such.
- Carrier Unlocked: just as the name, these are the phones that were previously locked to another carrier but now are fully unlocked.
- T-Mobile Branded: Sure, you can use a T-Mobile phone on Google Fi even before unlocking.
Even with either of the three types of phones above, there’s no guarantee it’ll work on Google Fi. And the explanation for that comes down to the network technology: i.e. the LTE/ 5G frequency bands I’ve mentioned earlier.
Anyway, some of the best phone brands that are compatible with Google Fi on both T-Mobile and US Cellular towers include:
|Phones Compatible with Google Fi||Supported Networks||ROM vs RAM|
|Unlocked Google Pixel 5 5G-Capable Android||5G & 4G LTE||128GB, 8GB|
|Factory-Unlocked Samsung Galaxy A13 5G||5G & 4G LTE||64GB, 4GB|
|T-Mobile-Branded LG Q7 Plus LTE Blue||4G LTE||64GB, 4GB|
|Factory-Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (5G)||5G & 4G LTE||128GB, 6GB|
|Unlocked Google Pixel 6 (5G) 128GB Android||5G & 4G LTE||128GB, 8GB|
|Unlocked Apple iPhone 13 A15 Bionic||5G & 4G LTE||128GB, 4GB|
|Unlocked Motorola Moto G Stylus (2021)||4G LTE||128GB, 4GB|
|Fi-Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G Android||5G & 4G LTE||128GB, 8GB|
|Fi Unlocked Samsung Galaxy A03s 32GB Black||4G LTE||32GB, 3GB|
|Apple iPhone SE (2020 Release) 64GB LTE||4G LTE||64GB, 3GB|
|Verizon Unlocked Google Pixel 3a LTE||4G LTE||64GB, 4GB|
|Unlocked Google Pixel 2XL 6” QHD+||4G LTE||64GB, 4GB|
|Fi-Unlocked Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G-Enabled||5G & 4G LTE||128GB, 4GB|
|Fully Unlocked Apple iPhone 12GB Green||5G & 4G LTE||64GB, 4GB|
|Unlocked OnePlus 8 (5G) Alexa Android||5G & 4G LTE||128GB, 8GB|
1. Unlocked Google Pixel 5 5G-Capable Android
The Pixel 5 is no doubt the best phone for Google Fi. You can not only activate your service on either eSIM or physical Nano-SIM. But it also has all the primary bands you need to tap into the 4G LTE or 5G network for T-Mobile and US Cellular.
Other amazing features of the Google smartphone include:
- A 6-inch, 90Hz display
- WiFi 5 (802.11ac) protocol
- Fast Snapdragon 765G processor
- Built-in NFC & fingerprint sensor
- Video capture in Slo-Mo & 4K quality
2. Factory-Unlocked Samsung Galaxy A13 5G
The Samsung Galaxy A13 5G-enabled is a nice pick if looking for a budget replacement phone with LTE and 5G support. You’ll miss out latest technology like eSIM and wireless charging, for sure. But it has other decent features like:
- A 6.5-inch, 90Hz display
- WiFi 5 (802.11ac) support
- 5G support on bands n41 & n71
- 50MP camera system with panorama
- Built-in NFC & Fingerprint sensor
3. T-Mobile-Branded LG Q7 Plus LTE Blue
Although an oldie, the LG Q7-series is still a nice phone, and a great one if you’ve got a budget under $150. It runs on the Snapdragon 450 processor, which is fast enough for many day-to-day applications. Then, you also get to enjoy:
- IP68 dust/ water protection
- Up to 2TB MicroSD support
- WiFi 5 standard (WiFi calling available)
- Built-in NFC for contactless payments / content sharing
4. Fi-Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G Android
The Galaxy S22 is an excellent pick if looking for the best phone for Google Fi at a discount. Of course, the limited-time deal is only for the new customers who join with a qualified port-in. But if successful, you get to save up to $600 and at the same time enjoy ultra-modern mobile features like:
- A 6.8-inch, 120Hz QHD display
- Up to WiFi 6 (802.11ax) support
- 5G mmWave support at n260/ n261
- Dual-SIM with eSIM & Nano-SIM
- Qi/ PMA/ Reverse wireless charging
5. Unlocked Google Pixel 6 (5G) 128GB Android
The Google Pixel 6 is another 5G-capable phone you can easily activate and operate with your Fi service. It has 8GB of RAM and the recently-released Google Tensor processor if you’d want to break off iOS and Snapdragon chips.
Other great features the Pixel phone has are:
- A 6.4-inch, 90Hz display
- WiFi 6 (802.11ax) protocol
- Fast & Reverse wireless charging
- 5G mmWave at Bands n260/ n261
- Built-in eSIM & Nano-SIM support
- Video capture in Slo-Mo & 4K quality
6. Factory-Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (5G)
The Galaxy S21 Fe is one of the most sought-after phones at the moment. It has the advanced Snapdragon 888 and 6-8GB of RAM, a combination that guarantees superior performance while even multitasking.
The Samsung phone also has other amazing features like:
- A 6.4-inch, 120Hz display
- Nano-SIM & eSIM support
- WiFi 6 (802.11ax) support
- Up to 5G mmWave connectivity
- Wireless charging & Powershare
- Triple-camera system with 3x optical zoom
7. Unlocked Apple iPhone 13 A15 Bionic
The iPhone 13 is another phone compatible with Google Fi, provided you’re okay to forgo 5G connectivity and WiFi calling. It runs on the latest A15 Bionic processor and you can also activate it on either a Nano-SIM or eSIM.
Other best features of the Apple phone include:
- A sturdy, IP68-rated build
- WiFi 6 (802.11ax) support
- Built-in NFC & Face ID sensor
- Qi/ MagSafe wireless charging
- A dual-camera system with 2x optical zoom
8. Fully Unlocked Motorola Moto G Stylus (2021)
The Moto G Stylus here’s yet another budget-friendly Android phone compatible with the Google Fi service. And as the name advertises, it’s got a built-in stylus if you love to sketch, scribble notes, or edit photos with precision.
The Motorola LTE smartphone also:
- Includes WiFi calling mode
- Can record videos in 4K@30fps
- Supports WiFi 5 (802.11ac) standard
- Has up to 512GB of MicroSD support
- Include a fingerprint scanner for quick unlocking
9. Fi Unlocked Samsung Galaxy A03s 32GB Black
The Galaxy A03s is another phone Google Fi has on its ongoing promotional offers. Sure, it’s an entry-level smartphone without much-sophisticated technology. But in the ongoing promo, you can get it for as low as $9.99 yet enjoy features like:
- A 6.5-inch HD+ display
- WiFi 5 (802.11ac) standard
- Up to 1TB MicroSD support
- Fingerprint reader for quick unlock
- Extended range & high-capacity LTE
Does Google Fi work better with Google phones?
Indeed, Google Fi works best with Google Pixel phones as they come preinstalled with the required network technology. But you could use your service on Samsung, OnePlus, and most of the other Android devices with the necessary network bands.
What phone lines does Google Fi use?
Google Fi currently uses T-Mobile and US Cellular phone towers since Sprint service is no more. If you have the right phone, your line will even be able to automatically switch to the strongest signal of the two networks.
Are Verizon phones compatible with Google Fi?
Yes, of course, unlocked Verizon phones are compatible with Google Fi if the primary network bands are available. A perfect example would be the Verizon-unlocked Google Pixel 3a smartphone, which has LTE bands 2, 4, 5, 12, 25, and 66.
Do all Android phones work with Google Fi?
Similar to MetroPCS, many but not all Android phones work with Google Fi. As was mentioned, a phone must have the necessary LTE/ 5G bands to tap into the signal frequency of T-Mobile/ US Cellular, carrier networks of Fi.
Beware the International Phones
If we decided to list down all the phones compatible with Google Fi, we’ll be here the whole day. Its major carrier network, T-Mobile, operates on network frequencies conversant with many phone manufacturers.
But even then, it’s not all phones will have the technology your Fi service needs to operate. And for that, I’d recommend paying attention to the model numbers while shopping from a third-party retailer like Amazon or Walmart.
Also, refrain from buying phones listed as “international” versions. In many cases, these devices have the secondary bands of US carriers. Then, sadly, major carriers have started to blacklist them such that you can’t use your SIM.