This week an eagle-eyed Reddit user discovered that Google has set a date in which it won't offer unlimited, lossless storage for Pixel 2 users. Just how much can we expect from them, and what's fair?
First, let's define how it works. To put it simply, if you bought a first-generation Pixel handset (even used) you would get free, unlimited, uncompressed storage. This would be offered through Google Photos, and your original images and 4K videos would be untouched. This doesn't look like it will change.
However, it looks like after 2020, we can expect photos taken with the Pixel 2 phones to be compressed. At first glance, this seems like a raw deal. While this isn't exactly what we’d thought they’d promised, I’m pretty sure most of us won't care. Google's photo compression is actually pretty amazing, and you likely won't see the difference.
The New Deal
Free, unlimited original-quality storage for photos and videos taken with Pixel through the end of 2020 and free, unlimited high-quality storage for photos taken with Pixel afterwards.
Unlimited original-quality storage for photos and videos taken with Pixel until Jan. 15, 2021, and high-quality storage for all later uploads. Requires Google Account and internet connection.
Basically, if you're using the latest Pixel smartphones, then your photos before 2020 will be untouched. If you go back to look at them, download them or edit them in 2021, they’ll be in their original quality. After that, every new photo you take will be compressed, “high quality” as Google's calling it.
This is the same kind of compression that all Android users experience when they upload to Google Photos. Videos shot in 4K are compressed to 1080p, photos can't exceed 16 megapixels (and are also compressed further). For video, it’s annoying. For photos though, this isn't a bad deal. Like I mentioned above, Google's photo compression is astonishingly good. PhoneArena compared the two, and couldn't really tell the difference.
The Original Pixel
The OG Pixel phones appear to be avoiding this issue. My guess is that after all the hype from the first-generation phones, Google could be stuck with being hypocrites or even falsely advertising. Hell, the phone won't have much first-party support in 2020 anyway. Still, I wouldn't hold my breath that they’ll continue to offer original quality storage for the original Pixel. The Pixel 2 is turning out to be the hypocritical phone of the year, losing it’s headphone jack and now this. Google appears to be perfectly comfortable going back on their principals.
It should also be noted that their biggest competition in this space, Apple, are being more honest about the whole thing. They won't offer much free storage (5 GB compared to 15 GB from Google), but when you pay for it, it comes out cheaper than Google's storage. For $9.99 a month you can get 1 TB with Google, but 2 TB with Apple.
So if original quality is your thing, you’ll either need an original Pixel, or deeper pockets. It was great while it lasted. Do you think you'll be concerned with the 2020 deadline being set for the Pixel 2? Or will you have moved onto the next phone by then?