Clark Howard: Google gets into low-cost phones

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In a time when rate cuts are the rage in the phone world, Google is entering the wireless market with a new service that will be cheap and pay you back for unused data.

I’ve been testing the new Google service called Project Fi. You buy the phone at a full unsubsidized price. Then you pay $20 per month for unlimited talk and text, and you buy whatever data you want at $10 per gigabyte. (I should note I paid for the phone and the monthly service myself as I always do. I never accept any freebies in exchange for reviews.)

So let’s say you buy 2 GBs, but only end up using 1 GB. Your account will be credited with $10 at the end of that month. No more buying a bundle of data and then hoping you don’t go over, when chances are you’re overpaying because you under-used data!

This plan works with only one phone: The Google Nexus 6. While it is a great phone, I don’t think Project Fi will get a lot of traction until you can bring your own device.

But it’s not the price or the phone that sets Project Fi apart. It’s the network. Project Fi runs on T-Mobile and Sprint, plus a network of more free Wi-Fi hotspots. Your phone jumps to whichever of those three options gives you the clearest signal.
In my testing so far, I have never had a dropped call. The calls are perfect and the data is ultra-fast.

The reality is what you pay for cellphone service is going way down. You may think a triple-digit bill is normal. But we’re moving to cheaper, more reliable and faster.

You might want to check out Republic Wireless. Their plans start at $10 a month for unlimited talk and text, plus unlimited data when you’re on Wi-Fi.

Remember, the cost of the phone is not what matters, it’s the cost of the service!

Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website

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