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How Well Does Google Fi Work in Iceland?

Introduction

I was very impressed with google fi coverage during an Icelandic Photo Tour and wanted to share my experience through a write-up on my experience.

Google Fi has you covered with plans that let you pay for only the data you use, or go unlimited. If your needs change, you can easily switch between plans.

I received $20 credit for anyone who wants to try it.

I'd like to start this article by sharing that 75% of households in Iceland have had fiber connectivity since 2016, which will help explain how well 4G services work in this European country. Speeds of 1 Gbit per second are available.

Table of Contents

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Where is the 4G coverage?

Another thing to bear in mind when taking a tour is that the bus may be equipped with a 4G / LTE hotspot and you can avoid using up data on your smartphone or laptop. I found out that I only used 1-2 Gb of data when I visited Iceland because I was able to use our Iceland travel guide, Sigis hotspot, which was sufficient for SMS and staying in connection with family.

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 call the US from Iceland, it costs $0.20 per minute if you do not use Wi-Fi. SMS is unlimited.

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Iceland Usage

NOTE: If you ever have more than 6 GB of data, you will not be charged any additional fees beyond this threshold.

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Snæfellsjökull National Park

Which phone should I get with Google Fi?

I would recommend Google Pixel 5-5G or Google Pixel 4A / XL. They have opened their offerings with iPhone compatibility, but with widely limited service and it will not connect in Iceland.

Google Pixel 5-5G Android Phone – Water Resistant – Unlocked Smartphone with Night Sight and Ultrawide Lens – Sorta Sage (Amazon)

Google Pixel 5
  • New, unlocked Android phone gives you the flexibility to change carriers and choose your own data plan; unlocked smartphone works with T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and other major carriers[1]
  • 5G capable [2] smartphone gives you an extra boost of speed so you can download a movie in seconds, [3] enjoy smooth streaming in ultra clear HD, play games at home and on the go, [4] and even share your 5G speed with friends [5]
  • Charge your cell phone wirelessly [6] or use it to wirelessly charge other Qi-certified devices [7]
  • The all day battery can last up to 48 hours with Extreme Battery Saver [8]
  • Your phone will automatically receive the latest OS and security updates for at least 3 years; [9] the custom-made Titan M chip helps secure the operating system and sensitive data, like passwords

Google Pixel 4a with 128 GB of Storage – Just Black (Amazon)

Google Pixel 4a with 5G
  • New, unlocked Android phone gives you the flexibility to change carriers and choose your own data plan; unlocked smartphone works with T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and other major carriers; not compatible with the Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband network
  • 5G capable cell phone gives you an extra boost of speed. So you can download a movie in seconds, enjoy smooth streaming in ultra clear HD, play games at home and on the go, and even share your 5G speed with friends
  • The all day battery can last up to 48 hours with Extreme Battery Saver
  • Your phone will automatically receive the latest OS and security updates for at least 3 years; The custom-made Titan M chip helps secure the operating system and sensitive data, like passwords
  • Take vibrant photos on your phone even in the dark with Night Sight, bring studio-quality light to your pictures of people with Portrait Light; and get more scenery and people in the shot with the rear-facing ultrawide lens

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
  • 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, CDMA 800/1900 & TD-SCDMA, 3G: HSDPA 850/900/1700(AWS)/1900/2100, CDMA2000 1xEV-DO, 4G: LTE 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 41, 46, 66, 71, 5G: SA/NSA/Sub6 (ensure to check compatibility with your carrier before purchase)
  • 6.5-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O Display, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1080 x 2400 pixels, IP68 for water and dust resistant
  • 128GB ROM, 6GB RAM, Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 (7 nm+), Android 10, Octa-core, Adreno 650, One UI 2.5, 4500mAh Battery
  • Rear Camera: 12MP Wide (F/1.8 aperture) + 12MP Ultrawide (F/2.2 aperture) + 8MP Telephoto (F/2.4 aperture), Front Camera: 32MP (F/2.2 aperture) , Under Display Fingerprint
  • AT&T Unlocked Version. Compatible with Most GSM and CDMA Carriers like T-Mobile, AT&T, MetroPCS, etc. Will Also work with CDMA Carriers Such as Verizon, Sprint.

Google – Fi SIM Card Kit (Amazon) OR sign up for your free SIM Card kit and account here.

Google Fi SIM Card Kit
  • Includes $10 credit on your first bill
  • SIM card compatible with most unlocked phones
  • Insert SIM card into a phone compatible with Fi and download the Google Fi app to finish activation. You can check if your phone is compatible with Fi on the Fi website
  • No contracts or activation fees
  • Choose between the Simply Unlimited, Unlimited Plus, and Flexible plans based on your data usage

Google Fi vs Buying an Icelandic SIM Card

Siminn has a few prepaid options. They offer free delivery to your hotel, airBnB or hostel.

5 GB data- 50 min talk- 50 texts for 2.900 kr

OR

10GB data for 2.900 kr

Thoughts: Google Fi equivalent would cost $70 (unlimited 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 depends so much on how much you already pay for your phone plan and how much it costs to add international coverage. Chances are that you will have access to some WiFI while travelling through Iceland, especially if you are in Reykjavík.

Google Fi vs Adding Verizon Travel Plans

Verizon has a few other plans for travel.

TravelPass
$10 daily cost per device. On their website are listed some 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!

Google Fi in Iceland FAQ

Which carriers does Google Fi operate on?

In the United States you have Sprint / T-Mobile and US Cellular, the three major network operators in Iceland are Siminn, Vodafone and Nova.

I recommend FiSwitch if you want to know which network you are connected to. Also, you can force your phone to connect to your chosen network, or reset your phone's radio, etc. I find this very helpful!

Will I need to change SIM cards when I enter Iceland?

Luckily, thanks to the Pixel 3 with a virtual SIM card, you don't have to change your SIM card when you travel to a supported country. Google's Wi-Fi app welcomes you as soon as you connect to the supported international network.

How to Save $20 off Your First Month

Get $20 off your first month of Google Fi! Click here!

Note: There are some blind spots, especially around large mountain peaks, ice caves and fjords.

Google has added a new $70 plan that includes 22 GB of “unlimited data” and 100 GB of Google One storage. If you add 3 or more lines, the price drops to $45 / per person for this unlimited plan.

Special Thanks

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Last update on 2021-03-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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By Graydon Schwartz

Find out more about Graydon on the About Me page.