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Google Pixel 3a phones lack free original quality Google Photos backups

You can take the same quality pics as the Pixel 3 (or close to it), but you can't save them in the cloud for free.

Published onMay 7, 2019

Although the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL contain the same rear camera hardware as the more expensive Google Pixel 3, the photos you take with that sensor won’t have the same privileges.

Read: Our full Google Pixel 3a XL review!

With all Google Pixel phones thus far, there’s been a neat perk included: the ability to back up to Google Photos — for free — the pictures and videos captured with the phone at their original quality. This feature is not included with the Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL.

Instead, you’ll be able to back up compressed (read: lower quality) versions of your photos and videos as much as you like for free while backing up the media at original quality will go towards your paid storage limits. This is the same deal everyone gets with any smartphone. If you don’t want to pay for your Google Photos storage, your media will be capped at 1080p.

It’s possible Google didn’t include this perk with the Google Pixel 3a as a cost-cutting measure. However, it seems contradictory to offer people one of the best smartphone cameras in the industry and not allow them to back up those photos at their original quality without chipping away at their storage quotas.

Google Pixel 3a XL fingerprint scanner

The removal of this perk also gives Pixel 3a buyers less of an incentive to stick with Pixel “a” phones when they decide to upgrade.

To be fair though, the offer of free original quality uploads to Google Photos only works for a few years after purchase, so even Google Pixel 3 owners will eventually have to pay to back up their media (January 31, 2022, is when the perk ends for the Pixel 3). Not even offering this perk to 3a owners is still a shame, however.

What do you think? Does this make you less inclined to buy a Google Pixel 3a? Let us know your opinions in the comments.

Next: Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL: Everything you need to know

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