[Update: Just a rebranding] Future Pixel phones may get unlimited Google Photos backups with new “Storage Saver” option

[Update: Just a rebranding] Future Pixel phones may get unlimited Google Photos backups with new “Storage Saver” option

Update 1 (05/06/2021 @ 08:56 PM ET): It seems that “Storage Saver” is just a new name for the existing “High Quality” option in Google Photos. Click here for more information. The article, as published earlier today, is preserved below.

Starting next month, Google Photos will no longer offer free unlimited storage for storing “High quality” photos. That means any new photos uploaded to Google Photos after June 1, 2021, regardless of whether it’s “High quality,” “Original quality, or Express quality, will count towards the 15GB limit allotted to your Google Account. And you’ll have to pay for Google One subscription if you run out of that limit. Luckily, current Google Pixel phones aren’t affected by this and will continue to get unlimited high-quality uploads for life. There have been reports that Google wasn’t planning to offer this perk on future Pixels. And the company even officially confirmed that future Pixel phones indeed wouldn’t get unlimited high-quality photo backups. But it appears Google could still offer some form of unlimited backups on future Pixel phones.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.

In Google Photos app v5.4.1, we have found evidence of a new Storage saver photo quality option that could allow future Pixel phones to avail unlimited backups.

Currently, Google Photos gives you three backup options: Original, High quality, and Express quality (in select markets). But following new strings suggest Google is working on adding a new Storage saver option that will seemingly let you backup your photos at a slightly reduced quality.

<string name="photos_autobackup_particle_items_left_with_saver_storage_policy">{count, plural, =1{1 item left • Storage saver} other{# items left • Storage saver}}</string>
<string name="photos_backup_settings_saver_title_with_description">Storage saver (slightly reduced quality)</string>

The new Storage saver option will allow Pixel phones to upload unlimited photos and videos for free. Since existing Pixels already have the unlimited high-quality backup perk, our guess is this change will most likely apply to future Pixel phones. Alternatively, it’s also possible Google could simply be rebranding the existing “High quality” option to “Storage saver” since they both mention the same “slightly reduced quality” phrase in their description.

<string name="photos_cloudstorage_strings_impl_saver_learn_more_footer_pixel">Unlimited storage in Storage saver only applies to photos &amp; videos backed up from this Pixel device. &lt;a href=help:>Learn more&lt;/a></string>
<string name="photos_cloudstorage_strings_impl_saver_learn_more_footer_pixel_express">Unlimited storage in Storage saver or Express only applies to photos &amp; videos backed up from this Pixel device. &lt;a href=help:>Learn more&lt;/a></string>
<string name="photos_cloudstorage_strings_impl_storage_meter_progress_pixel_unlimited_saver">Backing up in Storage saver quality from your %s is free and unlimited</string>
<string name="photos_cloudstorage_strings_saver_title">Storage saver</string>
<string name="photos_pixel_offer_full_pixel_saver_backup_quality_description">New items will back up in Storage saver backup quality (slightly reduced quality). Items uploaded before %s will remain free at Original quality.</string>
<string name="photos_pixel_offer_full_pixel_updated_backup_saver_quality_summary">New photos will back up in Storage saver backup quality</string>
<string name="photos_quotamanagement_summary_free_hq_storage_pixel_saver_backup">You’re backing up in Storage saver quality from your %s, which is free &amp; unlimited</string>
<string name="photos_quotamanagement_summary_free_saver_storage_pixel_ab_off">Storage saver quality on this device is free &amp; unlimited. Turn on in &lt;a href=backup_settings>backup settings&lt;/a>.</string>
<string name="photos_quotamanagement_summary_free_saver_storage_pixel_oq_backup">Backing up in Storage saver quality on this device is free &amp; unlimited. Change in &lt;a href=backup_settings>backup settings&lt;/a>.</string>

This new Storage saver option hasn’t rolled out in Google Photos yet. We will update this post with more details if we find any new evidence.


Update 1: “Storage Saver” isn’t a new backup tier in Google Photos

A Google spokesperson reached out to us with the following statement:

“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.”

Thus, “storage saver” isn’t a new backup tier in Google Photos but rather is just a new name for the existing “High Quality” tier. Google is planning to A/B test the name change, which makes sense as the distinction between “High Quality” and “Original Quality” can confuse some people. Unfortunately, future Pixel phones will still not be exempted from the upcoming storage policy change set to take effect next month.

This article was updated at 2:16 PM ET on May 7, 2021, with a statement from a Google spokesperson.

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Kishan Vyas
Kishan Vyas

A loyal Android user since Android 2.1 Eclair. Direct inquiries to [email protected]