It was just about a year ago that Google decided to move beyond developing smartphone software, delivering smartphone services, and selling smartphone hardware to complete its cradle-to-the-grave package of mobile offerings with its own cellular service, launching the Project Fi MVNO. But while anyone can sign up for a Gmail account or buy a Nexus phone, it’s been much trickier to make Google your cellular provider, both due to the limited amount of hardware that supports Project Fi’s network-hopping wizardry, as well as Google’s desire to limit the total number of Fi users with the help of an invite system. Granted, there’s been little that latter concern that would do to get in the way of a user determined to give Project Fi a spin, especially with things like one-day open sign-up periods – no invite needed – but the rule persisted. But now Google’s taking promotions like that and is running with them, announcing that it’s putting an end to Project Fi invites for good.
Going forward, all you’ll need to start using Project Fi is a supported smartphone (the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, or Nexus 6). Well, that and you’ll have to live in the US – even dropping invites does nothing to expand the geographical restrictions inherent to the core mobile networks Google is using.
In announcing today’s news, Google provides us with some Project Fi stats – details like how users are consuming an average of 1.6GB of data a month – but we’re most interested in what Google had to share about Fi-compatible hardware: if you’re looking to sign up for Project Fi, it will hook you up with a Nexus 5X for $150 less than they’re going for in the Google Store: that means just about $200 for a 16GB handset, or $250 for a 32GB model.
To get that discount, you’ll have to activate Project Fi on the Nexus 5X within 30 days of shipment, but there’s no requirement as to how long you need to use the service. That is, you’re free to try Project Fi for a month, maybe decide it’s not for you, and keep your Nexus 5X at that discounted price. Tempted to give Google’s cellular service a spin now?