Google this morning announced storage changes that impact several services, though it primarily affects Photos. Pixel phones will notably be exempted from the new Google Photos rules and continue to offer unlimited “High quality” backups.
Starting on June 1, non-Pixel phones will have High quality backups count against their 15GB or additional Google One storage. Made by Google devices — specifically, the “Pixel 1-5” — are exempted from this change.
High quality backup sees large photos compressed to 16-megapixels, while “videos higher than 1080p will be resized to high-definition 1080p.” In the former case, Google says those optimized pictures result in a “good” quality 24 x 16-inch physical print.
It’s unclear whether future Pixel devices will receive this perk, but there is a clear trendline towards reducing unlimited Google Photos backups.
The original Google Pixel in 2016 debuted with “unlimited free storage at Original quality” for photos and videos. In fact, users were not able to even upload in High quality.
With the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3, Google introduced a four-year limit to Original quality backups. Starting with the Pixel 3a in 2019, this perk was constrained further so that only content uploaded in High quality is unlimited.
In light of today’s broader change, this does not seem too bad a benefit. Meanwhile, the Pixel 4a, 4a 5G, and 5 product pages notably do not advertise this perk. Users have to visit a Help article to know they have it.
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