Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Google Ends Free Unlimited Photos

As they say, all good things will come to an end. Like free unlimited photo storage in the cloud. If you use Google Photos, know that from 1st June 2021, your photo uploads will count towards the free 15 GB allowance, beyond that you’ll have to pony up money to pay for storage.

Read about Google’s announcement on their blog post.

That’s right. There will no longer be unlimited “high quality” photo storage. High quality, to be clear, is already the lower quality variety, because the only other kind in Google Photos is known as “original quality”.

Original quality photos already count towards your storage quota today. This used to be offered free to Pixel, Pixel 2, and Pixel 3 users. It was understandably omitted with the Pixel 3a smartphones, given their lower price point. But the Pixel 4 launched without unlimited original quality photo uploads. That marked the end of one of the cool features of the premium Pixel smartphones. The new Pixel 5 launched this year also did not come with unlimited original quality photo uploads.

While the markings were, arguably, already on the wall, many of us hoped that unlimited high quality photo uploads would stay. Google Photos is a great convenience, and many Android users use it exclusively for all their photos.

Unfortunately, that will end. At least for most people. Unless you own a Pixel smartphone, photos you upload from 1st June 2021 will count toward the storage quota in your Google account. Your Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms and Jamboard files will also count toward the storage.

Photos already uploaded before 1st June 2021 will not count toward the quota. So if you already use almost 15 GB, or more, you won’t find yourself in an instant predicament come 1st June 2021, though you’ll still need to figure out what to do in the long run.

For now, Pixel users may find relief that they will continue to enjoy free unlimited high quality photo uploads. I suppose Google needs to take care of their hardware customers.

Google has been steering users toward paid storage plans on their Google One subscription service. The storage space you pay for in Google One is used across all Google services, and today includes Gmail and Drive.

In Singapore, Google One is priced at S$2.79/month or S$27.99/year for 100 GB, S$3.99/month or S$33.99/year for 200 GB, and S$13.99/month or S$139.99/year for 2 TB of storage.

The free tier still gets you 15 GB of storage, or maybe a bit more depending on whether you might have earned storage bonuses.

In the meanwhile, I’m sure some of us might start to look at other storage services.

Update (13 Nov 2020): The word going around is also that future Pixel devices will not get unlimited high quality photo uploads at the get go.

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