Google Photos Unlimited Photo Backups Could Return To Future Pixels With A Twist

Google Pixel 5
In less than four weeks from now (effective June 1, 2021), Google's free unlimited photo and video backup perk is going away for non-Pixel owners, replaced by a 15GB cap (photos and videos backed up prior to that date don't count against the cap). Same goes for future Pixel phones...or perhaps not. There is evidence to suggest Google may reinstate unlimited storage for future Pixel phones, with a caveat.

The image quality would be somewhat reduced. To what extent is not clear, and this may not even happen anyway. However, the folks at XDA-Developers performed a teardown of the latest version of the Google Photos app (v5.4.1) that is in the Play Store, and there are some interesting strings pointing to a 'Storage saver' photo quality option.

This does not yet exist. instead, users can choose between Original, High quality, and in some markets, Express quality options. The APK breakdown, however, suggests a new Storage saver option is headed to Google Photos, and that it is "free and unlimited" to Pixel owners. That would certainly be a welcome return of a popular perk that Google decided to kill.

Regarding the quality of photos uploaded with this option, there are two descriptions contained in the APK breakdown. One of the strings references "slightly reduced quality" while another string says "reduced quality."

Google One Plans

It should be noted that the existing High quality options is also described as "slightly reduced quality," so this could be a rebranding of 'High quality' to 'Storage saver quality' within Google Photos.

Our hope is that either way, it means future Pixel phones will allow for unlimited photo and video uploads, and what is essentially a High quality setting (regardless of what it's actually called). Otherwise, we're back to the prospect of paying for additional storage space, starting at  $1.99 per month for 100GB.

As to what the means, Original quality photos are unchanged, whereas High quality photos are compressed to 16 megabytes, if the photo is larger than that. We'll have to wait and see. If this is to be, the most likely scenario is Google makes an announcement when it unveils the upcoming Pixel 5a 5G.