Goodbye Samsung, Hello Moto

It’s been a few years.. My Samsung Galaxy 6 was still quite functional, but my service provider (Sprint) was not. I got really tired of the spotty signal strength outside of major metropolitan areas.

I had been considering moving to T Mobile the next time I needed to change phones/carriers. I did the cost comparison and essentially, I’d have to pay about the same (around $60 per line for my phone and my wife’s). So it came down to just waiting till the time was right to switch…

I was at a camping event in Western PA with some friends and we got talking about cell phones and service providers. She had some seriously glowing reviews for Google FI. Enough so that I checked out their offerings, and decided to make the switch. There was a decent promotion with a “buy two phones, get full service credit for the price of one of them”, so we switched.

Cutting to the chase, going with Google FI has cut my monthly phone bill to less than half what it used to be, service quality is superior in several ways. The phones themselves are quite good… and I’ve only got some minor and highly technical (surprise on that one) complaints.

Over all I’m super happy with the move and with the Motorola Moto X4 phones.

Techie Minutia

Multiple Carriers / seamless handoffs

Google FI is a different carrier.. they have this really interesting model where they partnered with several different carriers so that instead of being “PCS” or “GSM” or “CDMA” carrier, they’re .. all three.

They have a partnership with Sprint, with T-Mobile, and with US Cellular. Their phone then looks at the three available carriers in a given area and picks the one with the best signal.. seamlessly. Actually they also will attempt to do WIFI calling using available open WIFI network, and unlike my experience with the Samsung under Sprint, they can seamlessly hand off between a WIFI call and a carrier so that you don’t lose connection.

Let me just kind of pause a moment and let that sink in.

I work from home so I’m very often on my home WIFI network. The Samsung Galaxy S6 under Sprint had WIFI calling and it worked quite well when I made or received calls from home. However, if I was on a call and stepped out of the house.. say to walk around the block while chatting with my mom. As soon as I lost the WIFI from my house, the call dropped. I could call back and pick up on cell, but it could never hand off.

Google FI however, handles this seamlessly.. and even more interestingly, because I have Xfinity, and there are a lot of Xfinity hot-spots in my neighborhood, the phone is switching from cellular carrier to neighbor WIFI and back multiple times over my 2 mile walk around the block and you’d never know the difference in terms of call quality.

It’s really the big selling point for me for Google FI

Not-Exactly-Unlimited Data

This one kind of scares some folks off Google FI. Unlike the other major US carriers who all offer “unlimited text, calling and data” plans, Google FI actually charges for data by the GiB.

However, they have this thing they call “bill protect” which kicks in to cap your bill.. so you pay about $20 for the phone connection and then $10 per GiB used for the month.. but they cap the fee at 10 GiB (For a 2 phone plan) ..

Our 2 phone plan is capped at $135/month .. and since I was paying about $120/month every month for the unlimited plans with Sprint.. the WORST CASE would be about the same.

However, I’ve been actually paying just about $60/month in actual bills. We use as much data as we need .. my wife uses more than me as the place where she works has crap WIFI, but we’re basically half the cost with all the service

About the Moto X4

Google FI’s unique setup means that not all phones are capable of using the type of SIM they use to achieve their multi-carrier hand-offs. At the time we were signing up, the two options for new phones were the Google Pixel 3 and the Moto X4.

The Pixel 3 was absolutely among the best / most modern phones available at the time. The Moto X4 was their “more budget conscious” offering. I’d have gone with the pixel, but that phone has no physical headphone jack, and I’m just not ready to fully embrace the wireless earbud thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had dorky Bluetooth earpieces for a long while.. I was using them before they were cool (oh hell they were never cool were they?) and while I liked them for calls, the batteries would die etc.

These new wireless earbuds.. I just can’t cope with them for 2 reasons:

  1. I have run countless wired earphones through the wash and ruined many – it sucks when you do that to a $30 pair of headphones.. I can’t imagine doing it to a $200 pair
  2. I listen to podcasts/ lectures when I’m going to sleep.. while my phone is charging. I have to use earphones because my wife can’t stand stuff playing when she’s trying to sleep.. with those wireless earphones, they’d be dying from lack of charge or if I used the little wired headphone jack dongles.. then the phone can’t charge

So, yeah, I know that the world is going this direction and sooner or later I will need to deal with phones without my beloved mini headphone jack.. but not today, Google, not today.

The Moto X4 has the jack and honestly, all the features we want. The camera is quite nice. I really like that it has a built in second lens which is super wide angle. The fingerprint reader is so much better than the Samsung (it’s way faster and fails to read way less often), and it has a micro SD card slot so I can make up for its rather anemic 32 GiB storage

One down side though: NOBODY sells accessories (cases, screen protectors, belt clips etc…) in local stores – you pretty much have to buy those online at Amazon.