I was very impressed with the coverage I received in Iceland on my trip last February 2019. Here’s a $20 credit if you’d like to try Google Fi.
I want to preface this article by sharing that 75% of homes in Iceland have fiber connectivity since 2016, which will help explain how well 4G services work in this European country. Speeds of 1Gbit per second are available.
Another thing to consider is if you’re joining a tour, your bus may be equipped with a 4G/LTE hotspot and you can avoid using data on your smartphone or laptop. I found I only used 1-2Gb of data on my visit to Iceland due to how often I was able to use our Iceland tour guide, Sigi’s hotspot which was sufficient for texting and keeping up with family, etc.
But… how much does data & voice cost?
Google’s plans are quite simple. You only pay $10 per GB of data. The monthly fee is $20 / per month. If you decide to make a US phone call from while you’re in Iceland it costs $0.20 per minute (while you’re not on WiFi). SMS is unlimited (included).
NOTE: If you ever go over 6GB of data, you will not be charged any additional fees after this threshold.
Which carriers does Google Fi operate on?
In the United States, you have Sprint, T-Mobile & US Cellular. The three major carriers in Iceland are Siminn, Vodafone & Nova.
I recommend FiSwitch if you would like to know which network you’re connected to. It also lets you force your phone to connect to your choice of network or reset your phone’s radio, etc. I find this very helpful!
Will I need to change SIM cards when I enter Iceland?
Thankfully, due to the Pixel 3 using a virtual SIM card, you no longer need to change the SIM card when you travel to a supported country. The Google Fi app will welcome you once you connect to the supported international network. I love the convenience of their service when traveling abroad.
Which phone should I get with Google Fi?
No brainer… I’d recommend Google Pixel 3/XL or Google Pixel 3A/XL. They have opened their offerings with iPhone compatibility however you are far limited service and it won’t connect in Iceland.
Google – Pixel 3a with 64GB Memory Cell Phone (Unlocked) – Just Black (Amazon)
Google – Pixel 3a with 64GB Memory Cell Phone (Unlocked) – Purple-ish (Amazon)
Google – Pixel 3a with 64GB Memory Cell Phone (Unlocked) – Clearly White (Amazon)
Google – Pixel 3a XL with 64GB Memory Cell Phone (Unlocked) – Just Black (Amazon)
Google – Pixel 3a XL with 64GB Memory Cell Phone (Unlocked) – Purple-ish (Amazon)
Google – Pixel 3a XL with 64GB Memory Cell Phone (Unlocked) – Clearly White (Amazon)
Google – Fi SIM Card Kit (Amazon) OR sign up for your free SIM Card kit and account here.
Google Fi vs Buying an Icelandic SIM Card
Siminn has a couple of prepaid options. They offer free delivery to your hotel, airBnB or hostel.
5 GB data- 50 min talk- 50 texts for 2.900 kr
10GB data for 2.900 kr
Thoughts: Google Fi equivalent would cost $70 (5GB of data+voice+text) + $10 ($.20 per minute) for 50 minutes of talk in Iceland = $80.00 USD.
As of August 11, 2019, 2.900 Icelandic Króna converts to $23.00 USD.
It’s so dependant on how much you are already paying for your phone plan and how much it costs to add international coverage. Odds are you will have access to some WiFI on your journey through Iceland especially if you’re in Reykjavík. Above assumes you’re using 5GB data on your visit.
Google Fi vs Adding Verizon Travel Plans
Verizon has a few different plans for traveling.
$10 daily cost per device. Their website states a couple of important things.
“Data speeds are reduced after the first 0.5GB of daily session. You can purchase additional High Speed for the remainder of your session.” AND “**4G LTE World device is required. Must be on a qualifying plan.”
Monthly International Travel Plan
500MB of data- 100 min talk- 100 sent txts (unlimited received) for $70 (extra)
2GB of data- 250 min talk- 1000 sent txts (unlimited received) for $130 (extra)
The clear winner here is Google Fi!
Get $20 off your first month of Google Fi! Click here!
Note: There are some blind spots, especially around big mountain rigs, ice caves, and fjords.
Oct 8 Update: Google added a new $70 plan which includes 22 GB of ‘unlimited data’ and 100GB of Google One storage included. If you add 3 or more lines, the price drops down to $45/per person for this unlimited plan.