What do you want to know
- Google Fi’s W+ uses Wi-Fi networks in public spaces like malls and airports to give Google Fi customers better coverage than LTE or 5G connections alone.
- W+ is first available to Google Pixel users running the latest Android 12 update with W+ enabled in Settings.
- Data on W+ is treated the same as all other data on the Fi network and counts towards your plan’s data usage, unlike using a standard Wi-Fi connection.
One of Google Fi’s best tricks has always been its ability to switch between multiple networks on the fly so its customers can get better coverage than any single network. As the number of phones supporting network switching has steadily increased, Pixel users have a new trick at their disposal with W+.
As identified by 9to5Google, W+ automatically uses Wi-Fi in participating public spaces as cellular coverage when LTE or 5G coverage isn’t optimal. This is more common in places like airports, malls, or stadiums.
Despite improvements in the coverage of traditional LTE and 5G connections, there are some areas where these technologies are not the most efficient way to deliver data and do not meet the expectations of mobile users. Google solved this problem by allowing phones to automatically connect to these participating Wi-Fi hotspots. Once connected, you should never notice any difference to the standard Fi network other than a W+ symbol replacing LTE or 5G at the top of your screen.
According to the Google Fi help page on W+ (opens in a new tab), you must be using a Pixel phone like the Google Pixel 6 with the latest version of Android 12 to be able to use this connection. While some of the other top Android phones can use Google Fi network switching, for now at least W+ is limited to Pixel phones.
When it comes to security, it’s not like connecting to an old public Wi-Fi network. Google Fi uses its VPN to secure your data when traversing these unknown networks. This is in addition to only using a trusted Wi-Fi connection in the first place.
Even then, it’s not a complete Wi-Fi replacement, and there are still some advantages to using your own home Wi-Fi or trusted access points. W+ usage, for example, counts towards your data usage on your Google Fi plan in the same way as data on LTE or 5G. This is more important if you’re on Fi’s flexible plan which charges per gig for usage. Luckily, your phone will prefer a saved Wi-Fi connection, like your home one, if you’re within range.
If you have the latest Android 12 update on your phone and it has been determined that W+ will provide the best connection, you don’t need to do anything else to connect. If you find that W+ does not give you a good quality connection, you can deactivate it.
You can temporarily turn off W+ by turning off your Wi-Fi connection on your phone or by connecting to another Wi-Fi hotspot. If you want to turn it off completely, you can turn it off in your settings. To turn it off, open settings, tap Network & Internet, then tap SIM, Google Fi, and toggle the option for W+ connections.
W+ is an innovative way for Google Fi to improve its coverage without investing in building a single new cell tower or spending billions in FCC auctions.
Google Fi is a phone plan from Google that works great for Android phones. Fi uses coverage from T-Mobile and UScellular in the US with additional coverage from select Wi-Fi on Pixel phones. You can pay per gigabyte or opt for unlimited data with up to 50 GB of high-speed data.