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If you’re looking to save a little money on your mobile phone bill, signing up for a smaller mobile carrier can help you out. Both Spectrum Mobile and Google Fi offer customers with the chance to power cell phones for less, but choosing between them might feel like deciding on your next post-pandemic travel destination (an intimidating feat).
Signing up for mobile service from a non-traditional carrier can have its perks! Spectrum Mobile offers Spectrum Internet customers with a low starting price, a hearty device protection plan and mix-and-match capabilities. Google Fi gives customers a bit more freedom for international traveling.
Your most pressing concern is probably (and should be) each carrier’s plans and pricing, so we’ll start there. All plans listed on this page include unlimited in-country talk and text, so our charts below primarily compare plans based on monthly data allowances and price per line. Additionally, the charts in this section are sorted by ascending single-line prices.
When you take a look at the by-the-Gig plans for each of these carriers, you’ll notice that the Spectrum Mobile price for 1 GB of data is cheaper right out of the gate. That’s because Spectrum Mobile offers each Gig for only $14 each without any additional service cost. Google Fi, on the other hand, requires a $20 service charge each month plus $10 per GB you use. Another difference here is that Spectrum Mobile users can share extra data as it gets added to the account. After combing through Google Fi’s sites, there seems to be no mention of Flexible line users being able to share their plan’s extra data.
|Gig Plan Title||Monthly Data Allowance||Monthly Price Per Line|
|Spectrum Mobile By the Gig||1 GB||$14/GB|
|Google Fi Flexible||1 GB||$20 + $10/GB|
Starting prices for Spectrum Mobile Unlimited plans are cheaper off the bat, too. Although the Spectrum Mobile Unlimited plan includes a couple fewer GB of premium data, the lower price reflects it.
Premium data is data that is prioritized over other data needs on the network. In other words: premium data is fast data. Once premium data is used up on a line, your device will experience reduced (although still accessible) speeds.
If you like using your phone as a hotspot for other devices, it should be noted that this capability is not included with the Google Fi Simply Unlimited plan. The other plans featured in the chart below do include hotspot privileges as a part of the monthly price per line.
Currently, Spectrum is running an excellent deal on their Spectrum Mobile Unlimited lines. The offer is called Spectrum One, and it involves getting a FREE Spectrum Mobile Unlimited line. Can’t beat free, right? This newer package includes Spectrum Internet (which you need in order to have Spectrum Mobile anyway), Advanced WiFi and one Spectrum Mobile Unlimited line all for the price of your selected Internet tier only. In other words, if you get Spectrum Internet through the Spectrum One deal, you’d get that level of Internet along with WiFi and one Spectrum Mobile Unlimited line for just $49.99 per month for the first year.
|Unlimited Plan Title||Monthly Data Allowance||Free Hotspot Tethering||Monthly Price Per Line|
|Spectrum Mobile Unlimited||20 GB Premium + Unlimited||Yes||$0/mo. for first line through Spectrum One package, then $29/mo. per line|
|Google Fi Simply Unlimited||22 GB Premium + Unlimited||No||$60/mo.|
|Google Fi Unlimited Plus||22 GB Premium + Unlimited||Yes||$70/mo.|
Below is a sample of a four-line plan based on line type. Spectrum Mobile Unlimited and Google Fi Unlimited Plus are being compared in this chart because, while many of their in-country aspects are similar, they are each carrier’s cheapest unlimited plans which also include free hotspot tethering. This chart also takes multi-line pricing into consideration. Both Spectrum Mobile and Google Fi offer discounts on their unlimited lines if you add more than one unlimited line to your plan.
Another thing to note as you consider this breakdown is that Google Fi does not allow users to mix line types within a plan. For example, if one member on the plan is an Unlimited Plus user, all members on the plan must be Unlimited Plus users. This could be a hindrance to families or groups who have members with vastly different data needs.
|Spectrum Mobile Plan Variety||Monthly Price|
|Four Unlimited Plans||$89.97/mo. (with first Unlimited line free through Spectrum One)|
|Two Unlimited Plans + Two By the Gig Plans||$57.99/mo. (with first Unlimited line free through Spectrum One)|
|Four By the Gig Plans (with one Gig per line)||$56|
|Google Fi Plan Variety||Monthly Price|
|Four Unlimited Plus Plans||$280|
|Two Unlimited Plus Plans + Two Flexible Plans||N/A|
|Four Flexible Plans (with one Gig per line)||$108|
To help you with your decision, we’ve identified some of the largest key differences between Spectrum Mobile and Google Fi. While considering your own needs and preferences, you can use these to guide your mobile plan choice.
One of the first differences between these two carriers is about which line types you can have on your plan. With Spectrum Mobile, you can mix and match plan types as much as you want. For example, you could have Spectrum Mobile’s Unlimited plan, another member on your plan could have a By the Gig setup and still another can enjoy the Unlimited Plus tier. With Google Fi, such mix-and-match capabilities are not possible. All members on your plan must have the same type of line. Although it’s not necessarily the worst thing, you could easily run into an issue where you’re paying for data that one member just doesn’t need. You could also have a very active data user who needs more than the rest of the members on your plan.
The above issue could be exacerbated by Google Fi’s rules about mid-cycle plan switching. Google Fi’s website says that you can switch plans once a month, as many times as you want, but that format mostly pertains to you if you are switching from Simply Unlimited to Unlimited Plus. All other switches take effect at the beginning of the next billing cycle. Consequently, switching also means that all lines on the plan will be affected. Spectrum Mobile, on the other hand, allows for individual line-switching. Although they have a similar rule about switching which only allows you to switch to the next plan down at the beginning of the next billing cycle, you can switch to the next plan up at any time of the month. You can even switch from a By the Gig plan to an Unlimited plan right from the Spectrum Mobile Account app.
On the topic of switching to Spectrum Mobile or Google Fi, both carriers offer virtually all-online signup processes. This similarity could be an excellent bonus for people who are short on time, require social distancing or prefer the freedom of signing up from anywhere. That being said, it bears clarifying that you can only sign up for Spectrum Mobile if you have Spectrum Internet or if you sign up for Spectrum Internet alongside your Spectrum Mobile account. Technically, though, having Spectrum Internet already makes this online purchasing perk even easier.
With each new line you add, by the way, you can buy a new phone from both of these carriers. Spectrum Mobile allows for a few more compatible phones when you buy from them, while Google Fi has fewer new phone options. Their made-for-Fi Pixel phones offer the most benefits and usability, while certain other phones deliver service but with fewer extra capabilities. One of the most notable compatibility differences is that Spectrum Mobile fully supports Apple products while Google Fi still has iPhones in beta testing. Therefore, although an iPhone on Google Fi can still text and call, there are some hoops that must be jumped through for many other parts of mobile phone service. An iPhone serviced by Spectrum Mobile, on the other hand, should have all of the capabilities you’d expect. If having a fully functioning Apple product is something you care about, then Google Fi is probably not the best solution for you at the moment.
One last key difference between Spectrum Mobile and Google Fi has to do with international communication. Google Fi edges out Spectrum Mobile in this aspect because it presents more traveling scenarios which include free service, such as data or texting. Spectrum Mobile covers service in over 200 countries, but you can expect rated pricing for pretty much anything you need your phone for. If you’re calling other countries from the United States, the Google Fi Unlimited Plus option includes free calling from the U.S.A. to more countries than Spectrum Mobile does.
That said, Spectrum Mobile service includes free texts to any country and up to 2,000 free minutes of calling to Mexico and Canada. That’s over an hour of phone time per day! If you believe that you will frequently need more talk time than that to speak to your loved ones in our neighboring countries, then Google Fi could be helpful. For more specifics about international communication differences between these two carriers, you can consult the chart below.
|Plan Feature||Spectrum Mobile Unlimited||Spectrum Mobile Unlimited Plus||Google Fi Flexible||Google Fi Simply Unlimited||Google Fi Unlimited Plus|
|International Texting from U.S.||Free to any country||Free to any country||Free to 200+ countries||Free to 200+ countries||Free to 200+ countries|
|International Calling from U.S.||2,000 free minutes to Canada and Mexico, rated pricing for everywhere else||2,000 free minutes to Canada and Mexico, rated pricing for everywhere else||Free to Mexico and Canada, rated pricing for everywhere else||Free to Mexico and Canada, rated pricing for everywhere else||Free to 50+ countries, rated pricing for everywhere else|
|International Data While Traveling||Yes, for rated pricing in 200+ locations||Yes, for rated pricing in 200+ locations||Yes, in 200+ locations||No||Yes, in 200+ locations|
|International Calling While Traveling||Yes, for rated pricing in 200+ locations||Yes, for rated pricing in 200+ locations||Yes, for rated pricing in 200+ locations||No||Yes, for rated pricing in 200+ locations|
|International Texting While Traveling||Yes, for rated pricing in 200+ locations||Yes, for rated pricing in 200+ locations||Yes||No||Yes|
Spectrum Mobile and Google Fi both have apps that can help you manage your plan, which can help you retain full control over your mobile service through these carriers. Visit our resource about the Spectrum Mobile Account app for more information.
Device protection plans are also optional add-ons for both of these carriers. Spectrum Mobile’s protection plan covers any device purchased through Spectrum Mobile and is approximately $15 per month (might vary depending on your device) and includes a few more perks. Google Fi’s protection plans vary between $4 and $15 depending on your device. Their plan currently covers a set of about 35 Pixel, Android, LG, Motorola, Nexus and Samsung devices if you buy them new with your plan through Google. Both plans require customers to pay a deductible in certain cases of damage, but Spectrum Mobile does not charge for mechanical or electrical failure of your device once the manufacturer’s warranty wears off.
|Does the Protection Plan Include…||Spectrum Mobile||Google Fi|
|…Loss Protection?||Yes, with paid deductible||Yes, once yearly with paid deductible|
|…Theft Protection?||Yes, with paid deductible||Yes, once yearly with paid deductible|
|…Mechanical/Electrical Failure Protection?||Yes, WITHOUT paid deductible||Yes, with paid deductible|
|…Accidental Damage Protection?||Yes, with paid deductible||Yes, twice yearly with paid deductible|
|…AppleCare for iPhones?||Yes||No|
|…Pocket Geek App Access?||Yes||No|
|…Antivirus by Avast for Android Devices?||Yes||No|
There is one extra feature that Google Fi offers: Family Link. Family Link is a set of parental controls that are included in all Google Fi plans. It allows parents to view their child’s activity, manage their apps, set time limits, lock a device and more. Unfortunately, Spectrum Mobile does not offer any form of parental controls yet.
Now that you’ve considered key similarities and differences between Spectrum Mobile and Google Fi, you can use these pros and cons to identify which plan works best for you.
If you’re a frequent globetrotter or if you have children who you’d like to set digital parameters on, then Google Fi might be helpful for you (either the Flexible or Unlimited Plus plans). If you engage in minimal international travel or you’d like a more reasonably priced plan, Spectrum Mobile is a great choice. Additionally, if you’re trying to mix and match line types within your plan, Spectrum Mobile allows you to pick exactly the line type you’d like while saving you more money on your mobile services.
Yes! Spectrum Mobile allows customers to pick and choose the perfect plan for them, even if members on the plan have different data needs. The lines on a Spectrum Mobile plan could be any combination of By the Gig, Unlimited and Unlimited Plus.
No. All members of a Google Fi plan must have the same plan type. For example, if one member of the plan needs to be on a Flexible line, all other lines must also stick to the Flexible tier of Google Fi service.
Certain Google Fi plans already include international calling and texting to over 200 countries, but Spectrum Mobile can still be used internationally for country-specific rated pricing.
Yes, they do! Google Fi includes calling to Mexico and Canada for free, while Spectrum Mobile includes 2,000 free calling minutes to these countries. Although there is a limit to these free minutes, Spectrum Mobile gives you enough free service to talk to your loved ones in Mexico and Canada for over an hour every day! If you don’t think you’ll frequently use up that many calling minutes, then Spectrum Mobile’s limit is no issue for you.
You can order a Spectrum One package, which includes Spectrum Internet, Spectrum Advanced WiFi and a Spectrum Mobile Unlimited line all for the price of your selected Spectrum Internet tier!
Written by Sarah Solomon
Edited by Henry St. Pierre