Today we found out that the Pixel 2 does not have the exact same “Unlimited Google Photos Uploads at Original Quality” deal that came with the first-generation Pixel. One year after launch, I remain positively shocked that Google’s continued their Unlimited Google Photos Uploads at Original Quality deal with the original Google Pixel, to be entirely honest. I thought there’s be some sort of catch – sort of like the catch that’s included with the Pixel 2.
NOTE: I will update this article if Google’s policy with the original Google Pixel and Pixel XL (made in 2016) ever changes re: Google Photos unlimited uploads at original quality. As of the original publish date of this article, October 6th, 2017, one year after the launch of these devices, Google’s original guarantee remains true. You can still upload any photo or video from the Pixel to Google Photos, at original quality, for free, apparently forever.
Google Pixel Fine Print
As of the publish date of this article, Google’s fine print on the Google Pixel 2 reads as follows. “Unlimited backups for photos and videos taken with your Pixel phone. Requires Google Account. Data rates may apply.” Now that doesn’t say the word “forever” in there – it just says unlimited backups.
It also specifies, now, that the unlimited nature of these uploads requires that the media be captured by the Pixel that’s doing the uploading. On the other hand, if I download an image from a website, then have it automatically upload to Google Photos (all on my Pixel), that image still shows up at using zero data space if I view it in my Google Photos folder through Google Drive.
Google Pixel 2 Fine Print
The Google Pixel 2 (and 2 XL) – having just been revealed for the first time this week here in early October, 2017 – includes a different bit of fine print. On the Google Store site, the same location as the fine print above, the Google Pixel 2’s fine print reads thusly: “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.”
This print also avoids the word “forever”, but it does still say “unlimited” – which in this case means an unlimited amount for a limited time. That’s just a tiny bit different than what’s assumed, likely by most users preparing to buy a Pixel: Unlimited forever, until the end of time.
The good news is that Google has included one “forever” bit in here, clearly – hopefully.
From the Pixel, or the Pixel Camera specifically
Some clarity on media was offered back on the 3rd of November, 2016, by Google’s Ronald Ho, Pixel Product Manager for mobile software experiences. In the Google product forums, Ronald said thusly:
“Unlimited original quality storage – all photos and videos uploaded from the Pixel phone are stored for free at original quality, whether it was taken by the camera, captured in a screenshot, or downloaded from another app,” said Ronald Ho.
“The storage used by these photos and videos will continue to be free even if you stop using the Pixel phone. Any photos and videos that are uploaded from other devices will count against the storage quota of the account if done at original quality and will be free at High Quality (which compresses photos).”
That seems to butt heads with the more recent information given by the Google Store (quoted in the “Google Pixel Fine Print” section above). As of publishing time for this article here on October 6th, 2017, it would still seem as though the Unlimited Storage still persists for every single image or video uploaded from the Pixel, and not just those captured by the Pixel’s camera.
At the moment, it would appear that while the Pixel 2’s Unlimited Storage at Original Quality lasts until 2020, the 1st-gen Pixel’s Unlimited Storage at Original Quality still lasts forever. If this remains true, the original Pixel might never lose its value as a media storage device through the future. What sort of price can you put on the ability to upload photos and video in unlimited amounts to Google Photos where they can be easily accessed, sorted, and downloaded from anywhere?
Also note: One question remains unanswered here, despite our attempts to ascertain a definitive legally-bound conclusion. Did Google’s claim to host Unlimited Original Size Pixel/Pixel XL Photos and Video to Google Photos bind them to an agreement with Pixel owners until the end of time? If and when we find out, we’ll let you know, right here!
UPDATE: October 9th, 2018, the dream is dead!
Google’s latest listing for Google Pixel smartphones suggests that there’s and end-time for free storage for all Pixels. The end time of unlimited storage for original size photos and videos on Google Photos as of now is “through 2020” for the original Pixel and “through 2021” for Pixel 2. So good news for Pixel 2, not quite so good for the original Pixel.