Google Fi Fumbles on iOS

by Colin Berkshire

I was very excited when I upgraded my iPhone 7 Plus to a new iPhone 12 Pro Max. The biggest, most exciting feature was dual SIM capability. It was exciting because I could use Google-Fi for international traveling and also have a SIM card in the country I was in.

My plan was to switch my primary service to Google-Fi.

It did not go well. For me. Google-Fi just was terrible.

Google-Fi is an intriguing, fast cellular service (MVNO). It’s $20 a month plus $10 a gigabyte with a $60 cap. And, you can use it in 200 countries. In the United States, Google-Fi uses the T-Mobile network.

My wife is on T-Mobile and she is happy with it, so I expect the switch to be a non-event. How wrong I was.

Our home is in one of the very many T-Mobile bad-service zones. And, we have a wonderful basement (1800 square feet with 14-foot high ceilings!) that we spend a lot of time in. T-Mobile cannot reach into this basement, but as we have great WiFi it is not a problem. T-Mobile (as with Verizon and AT&T) use WiFi to provide backup coverage in their dead zones. So despite T-Mobile having poor service at our home, we never know it because with WiFi calling our coverage is great. The switch to WiFi is entirely behind the scenes.


But Google-Fi does not support WiFi on the iPhone.

This means that if you are in one of the millions of T-Mobile dead-zones you are out of service. It means that in our basement there is no phone service when using Google-Fi.

I don’t know whether to blame Google, or Apple or T-Mobile. But it is almost inexcusable that cellular WiFi doesn’t work with Google-Fi on the iPhone. And, it means that Google-Fi is a non-starter for me.

What is it with US cellular companies that they just can’t make things work, and they can’t make it simple. Google Fi supports WIFI Calling on other phones and iOS supports WIFI calling on other carriers. It’s a bigger problem in the US due to spotty coverage. I cannot recall the last time I ran into any cellular dead-spot anywhere in Asia. (Including in rural cities in Vietnam that don’t even have electricity.)

Google-Fi’s lack of WiFi  calling on iOS is inexcusable. And, it’s dangerous (Think: no-911).