One of the two big features of Project Fi is that calls route automatically over one of two carriers. Those carriers are either T-Mobile (good) or Sprint (meh). Using an app (FiSpy) from the Google Play Store I could view which carrier Project Fi was automatically switching me to. Mostly I seemed to get switched to relatively sluggish Sprint – even when my other phone (an iPhone on T-Mobile) showed there was plenty of stronger (and faster) signal with T-Mobile. Overall the automatic switching between carriers did not live up to the hype or improve my usage experience. I expected to always be on a solid, high-speed, high-quality signal. I wasn’t. I was often on 3G Sprint even when my other phone showed LTE T-Mobile available in the area. It wasn’t a bad experience, just overhyped: Meh.
The other big feature of Project Fi is that calls can be routed over WiFi as much as possible. YAWN. Hello Project Fi, T-Mobile called and they want their WiFi calling back. This is not a new feature to the world of cellular. T-Mobile has been offering WiFi calling on their phones for years. Still, Project Fi has gotten a lot of good reviews for their use of WiFi calling. Oddly enough I didn’t find WiFi calling was used in many (almost all) cases. When it worked (signified by the appearance of “the key” aka VPN symbol in the notification area), WiFi calling quality was pretty good. It just didn’t work enough of the time when it seemed like it should have. I rate this a big (overhyped): Meh.
WiFi is pretty terrible at powering calls when you’re in a moving car. My town offers WiFi in limited public spaces. WiFi is also included in my cable Internet plan. Trying to use either (or both) from a moving car is not realistic. I could see my phone attempting to connect to WiFi, but the connection took longer to setup than the time that I was within range of the specific WiFi. The dream of WiFi phones which seamlessly handoff between one access point to another is pretty much a dream except for controlled locations such as an office or college campuses: Meh.
Project Fi uses a variation of Google Voice to allow you to receive both calls and SMS via your Gmail inbox. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t yet allow users with paid Google Apps to register their Google Voice number for Project Fi. This means Google Apps users such as myself are forced to use a secondary Gmail.com email address if we want to register for Fi. My Google account linked to Google Play was my primary Google Apps account and my Fi based SMS was on a secondary screen of Google Hangouts using my secondary Gmail account. Confused? Me too. The integration of Google Voice with Fi is slick. Unless you are a Google Apps users, then it’s awkward. Another Meh.
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Wayne is a diehard Android user and consultant specializing in Sage 100 ERP Accounting Software. He lives in Glastonbury CT with his two children. When not helping them with their homework or pushing the latest school fundraiser off on his co-workers, he is active hiking and investigating all manner of technology.