How To: Can't Send Photo Messages on Google Fi? Fix This Setting on Your iPhone

Can't Send Photo Messages on Google Fi? Fix This Setting on Your iPhone

There's a serious issue with Google Fi's service for iPhone that prevents sending any MMS pictures via the Messages app. The problem doesn't affect all iPhone users on Google Fi, but if you're like me and keep getting that frustrating "Not Delivered" alert, there's a fix.

I jumped on Google Fi as soon as it officially added support for iPhone, that way, my wife and I could be on the same plan finally to save money. At first, it was perfect, and I had relatively no issues for a while. Then, just four months after signing up, I could no longer send any MMS pictures to anyone. I would only see red exclamation marks next to nearly every image I tried sending.

Example image that's under 4 MB failing the first time and with "Try Again."

Sure, shooting photos over to other Apple users with iMessage worked just fine, but Messages would slam that red "Not Delivered" text in my face for every other contact. It didn't happen every time, but there was roughly a 95% failure rate. Google Fi support was zero help and told me to contact Apple. Apple Support was zero help and told me to contact Google Fi. And I tried every "solution":

  • disabling Live Photos when sending
  • disabling Live Photos in Settings
  • editing and cropping media
  • force-restarting my iPhone
  • clearing the RAM
  • updating my iPhone
  • updating the Google Fi app
  • deleting and reinstalling the Google Fi app
  • deleting and restoring Google Fi's APN settings in "Cellular Data Network"
  • resetting the network settings completely and redoing the APN settings
  • restoring my iPhone to a backup
  • wiping my iPhone to factory settings
  • upgrading from an iPhone X to iPhone XS to iPhone 11 Pro
  • toggling Airplane Mode on/off
  • turning my iPhone off, removing the SIM card, turning it back on, turning it back off, putting the SIM back in, turning it back on
  • sending logs to Google Fi and Apple Support
  • signing out and back into my Apple ID
  • double-checking that iMessage, SMS, and MMS were all on in the Messages settings
  • and every combination of the above

Nothing worked. I gave up for a long time and just dealt with it — for almost an entire year. Eventually, I added the issue to the Google Fi Help boards, and only recently did someone share a working fix. And while it's not perfect, I've dropped down to a 10% failure rate for MMS photos in the Messages app.

How to Send MMS Photos Again with Google Fi

Google Fi was previously insistent that no settings be changed on the "Cellular Data Network" page aside from what it needs to "work." So that meant "h2g2" in all of the three APN fields and "http://fi.g.co/mms/wapenc" in the MMSC area. You still need those four entries, but you also need to fix one and add one more thing.

Open up the Settings app, then go to "Cellular," followed by "Cellular Data Network." Now, in addition to the "h2g2" fields mentioned before, you'll want to change "http://fi.g.co/mms/wapenc" to "http://m.fi.goog/mms/wapenc" and add "23456789" into the MMS Max Message Size field. And that's it. Save it by exiting those settings, then restart your iPhone.

What you just did there was add a roughly 23 MB limit for MMS text messages. With the entry blank, Google Fi may add an arbitrary limit on MMS texts you can send. Some people have been previously told there was an 8 MB cap by default, but in reality, it seemed more like 2 MB, and that checks with all of the past failed images I tried sending — all of which were over 2 MB in size.

I contacted Google Fi about the issue multiple times as to why it had not been telling people to add a number to the MMS Max Message Size field, but I never received any responses. However, in March 2020, after we published this article, Google changed its help page on setting up SMS and MMS to include the MMSC URL change and the addition of "23456789" for MMS Max Message Size.

Frankly, without addressing the issue officially and just quietly changing its rules, it seems like Google Fi has admitted that it had done iPhone users a great disservice ever since it started supporting them.

Google Fi Still Needs to Improve MMS on iPhone

Like I said before, I only have a 10% failure rate now for MMS pictures, so it's not a 100% fix. At least, not for me. Sometimes, a random image smaller than 5 MB wouldn't send for me, but it's few and far between now.

Also, in most instances, whenever you send multiple images at the same time, they all will fail, even if they are all under 23 MB each. It could happen when sending numerous photos from the Photos app to Messages, as well as from Photos in the Messages app drawer. It's like Google Fi is counting them all together and not as separate MMS texts. And it's slow to tell you it failed! For example, I sent six images from Photos to Messages, and with a good signal, it took over ten minutes for the "Not Delivered" alert to come up — and they were all under 4 MB each.

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Cover photo, screenshot, and GIFs by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

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