The Pixel 4 and 4 XL will launch without one of the original great reasons for owning a Pixel phone: free unlimited photo backups to Google Photos at full resolution. Google’s website for the new devices only notes that they’re eligible for the same storage option as any other phone, which is unlimited backups at “high quality.” This option compresses your images when they’re uploaded to the cloud, which is why Google is able to offer it so freely.
Nowhere on the Pixel 4 site does it mention free storage at original quality, which was a major incentive for purchasing the original Pixel, Pixel 2, and Pixel 3. iPhone owners had to keep an eye on their iCloud storage, but Pixel users could always snap away care free. Not anymore. Google didn’t extend it to the Pixel 3A and 3A XL, but that was understandable due to their much lower price point. The Pixel 4 starts at $799, and the XL version is $899. These aren’t cheap phones.
One of the best perks of buying a Pixel is gone
Pixel 3 owners get free storage for their original-quality photos and videos until January 31st, 2022. So they’re in the clear for a long time before having to worry about paying anything. But the Pixel 4 won’t get you special treatment anymore. Google has confirmed directly to The Verge that the deal isn’t on offer this time around.
Why the change? The Pixel 4’s main camera is still 12 megapixels, so it’s not churning out larger files. The portrait lens is 16MP — a bit larger yes, but not really enough to stress Google’s cloud when you factor in how many Pixels the company usually sells.
The real reason is subscriptions. Google is including a three-month free trial of its Google One subscription service with Pixel 4 purchases, and that membership comes with 100GB of storage (and is eligible for family sharing). So Google might be hoping to shift Pixel owners who need bountiful backup space over to a recurring subscription.