Google Photos is dropping its free unlimited “high quality” backups for non-Pixels at the end of this month. Apparently, the company decided it’s time to start cashing in on one of its best products and pushing more customers to paid Google One plans. While Google’s current stance doesn’t make any future Pixels eligible for free unlimited backups, a new “storage saver” tier was seen in a teardown by 9to5Google. While they first thought it could be a new unlimited photo storage plan, Google has since confirmed it’s just a name-change being considered for the existing “high quality” option.
The change was spotted by 9to5Google, and the details for it were convincing, explaining that the tier was specifically built for Pixel phones, as code uncovered in the latest Google Photos version suggests. At the time, we thought it could join the two existing options the backup service already offers: original quality and high quality. The former uploads media as is, whereas the latter compresses images and reduces the resolution to 16MP if higher (it’s the one that currently doesn’t count towards your Google account storage).
A couple of strings described the new tier as having “slightly reduced quality” and “reduced resolution,” though we didn’t know how this option may have fit with the two existing ones. Now Google has confirmed that’s because it’s not new — or, at least, not entirely new.
The company has since informed 9to5Google that the conclusions arrived at in the teardown were in error, and the new plan is actually just a name-change being considered for the existing high-quality plan:
“There are no changes to what we previously announced regarding Google Photos storage for Pixel devices. We are exploring new names for our Photos backup options and have no plans to introduce additional storage options.”
Maybe Google will consider some new One plan photo perks instead?
Google responds — no new backups, just a new name
Google has told 9to5Google that the new “storage saver” plan is actually just an experimental retitle of the existing “high quality” option that Pixels already have, which offers backups for slightly reduced photo quality.
If you were excited (as we were), sadly it’s a false alarm.