Google ends free ‘original quality’ image backups for the Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL

20 Oct

The newly unveiled Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL smartphones will not include three years of free ‘original quality’ Google Photos storage, the company has confirmed. Details about the change were quietly listed on the Google Store’s Pixel 4 product page following the company’s press event on Tuesday, revealing an elimination of the perk Google has offered since the launch of its original Pixel model.

All Android mobile devices come with free Google Photos storage for images and videos captured with the handset, but there’s a catch: the content is compressed from its original quality down to ‘high quality.’

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The Pixel smartphone line has remained notable among its peers by offering atypically excellent camera quality, particularly in low-light environments. Before the Pixel 4, Google relied on computational photography, not extra lenses, to give its phones an edge. This time around, however, Google has taken steps to remain competitive with Apple by packing more than one camera into its newly unveiled Pixel 4 devices.

Many consumers, particularly photographers who prefer Android over iOS, have anticipated the launch of this phone specifically for its mobile camera capabilities. That makes Google’s decision to end its free ‘original quality’ photo storage particularly baffling. Buyers must either sign up for a paid storage plan or settle for compressed backups.

As recently noted by XDA, the Google Store’s Pixel 4 page reads, ‘Never worry about storing, finding, or sharing your memories thanks to unlimited storage in high quality on Google Photos.’ That feature comes with a small disclaimer that states:

Google Photos offers free unlimited online storage for all photos and videos uploaded in high quality. Photos and videos uploaded in high quality may be compressed or resized. Requires Google Account. Data rates may apply.

Google offers multiple cloud storage plans under its Google One subscription, which starts at $ 1.99/month for 100GB of storage if you pay annually. The Pixel 4 smartphone is available to preorder from the Google Storage now for $ 799.

Update (October 16, 2019): Corrected pricing of the entry-level Google One subscription plan.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

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