Google Photos finally stops pretending its compressed photos are ‘high quality’


Are you planning to stick with Google Photos when its free unlimited storage disappears on June 1st? If you’re anything like me, you’re probably still struggling to figure out whether you can afford to procrastinate that decision a little bit longer — and today, Google has made that reckoning a little bit easier.

First off, the company’s finally telling it like it is: Google will no longer pretend its compressed, lower-quality photos and videos are “High quality,” something that would have saved me a lengthy explanation just last week! (After June 1st, existing Google Pixel phone owners still get unlimited “High quality” photos, but if you’re on, say, a Samsung or iPhone instead, it’s not like there was ever a “Normal quality” photo that doesn’t count against the new 15GB limit.)

Soon, “Storage saver” will be the name for Google’s normal-quality photos, formerly known as “High quality.” You’ll be able to upload at either the “Storage saver” or “Original quality” tiers, both of which will count against your storage quota, with “Original quality” using more data.

What if you’ve already got 10GB worth of Gmail and 2GB of documents stored in a Google Drive like yours truly, leaving just 3GB left for photos before you’ll need to pay? First off, know that your existing “High quality” photos before June 1st don’t count against the quota — but also, Google has a new tool to help you find and delete blurry photos and large videos to help you free up even more space.


You can find it in the “Manage storage” section of the app, as you can see in the GIF above. It’ll also help you find and delete screenshots, though that’s been a feature of Google Photos for a while now. Google also promises to notify users who are nearing their quota, and you can click here for a storage estimate if you’re logged into your account.

Still confused, perhaps? I wouldn’t blame you; it took a while for me to get it all straight in my head, particularly considering that Google offers different levels of grandfathered free storage depending on which Pixel phone you own. Here’s an attempt to condense that info for you:

  • Everyone, including non-Pixel owners: Anything you upload before June 1st, 2021, won’t count against your 15GB quota
  • Pixel 3A, Pixel 4, Pixel 4A, Pixel 5: You also still get unlimited free “Storage saver,” aka “High quality” images going forward, but not “Original quality”
  • Pixel 3: You still get unlimited free “Original quality” photos and videos if you upload them before January 1st, 2022, after which you get unlimited “Storage saver” going forward
  • Pixel 2: You got (past tense) unlimited free “Original quality” photos and videos if you uploaded them before January 16st, 2021, and you get unlimited “Storage saver” going forward
  • Pixel (2016): You get unlimited free “Original quality” photos and videos until your phone kicks the bucket

Future Google phones won’t have these perks: existing Pixels will be the last to come with free unlimited “High quality” uploads, Google confirmed to The Verge in November.



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