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What happens to your Pixel's original quality photo backups, according to Google

Newer Pixel devices enjoyed original quality photo backups as part of a promotion. What happens when those promotions end?

Published onOctober 24, 2019

Google Photos original quality photo backups
One of the hallmark features of earlier Pixel devices was the full quality backups with Google Photos. Unfortunately, Google ceased the practice with the Pixel 4 series. That means the Pixel 3 series are the last phones with this neat little promotion.

The stipulations are fairly straightforward: Those with Pixel devices get original quality photo backups on Google Photos for a set period of time. However, what happens after those promotional periods end? What happens to your Google Drive storage and your original quality photos? We surfed through Google’s support pages to find the answers.

Original Google Pixel and Pixel XL

Original Google Pixel XL photograph

This one is fairly straightforward. The original Google Pixel and Pixel XL were promised unlimited original quality backups indefinitely. It seems Google intends to continue that promise. There is no evidence of an expiration date for this promotion and the photos should never count against your Google Drive storage amounts.

You can continue to upload your photos with peace of mind. We’ll update this article should anything change in regards to the original Pixel and Pixel XL.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.
The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL also received the promotion. However, the promotion for this one ends on January 16, 2021. According to Google’s support page, any photos uploaded before that date will remain at original quality and will not take up any of your Google Drive space. However, any new photos uploaded at original quality will count.

We recommend setting a calendar date to change your settings back to high quality mode to avoid filling up your Google Drive space.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

google pixel 3 back clearly white camera fingerprint sensor
The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL suffer the same fate as the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, except two years in the future. Both devices get the original quality backups until January 31, 2022. All photos uploaded at original quality will remain that way and won’t take up any of your Google Drive space.

However, any original quality photos uploaded after the date will take up space as normal. Much like the Pixel 2, we recommend setting a reminder for yourself to change your settings on the date so you don’t fill up your Google Drive space all the way.

Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 4 devices

Google Pixel 4 XL camera lens closeup 2
The Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL never had the promotion to upload photos in original quality like its predecessors. It puts both devices in the same boat as the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Any photos uploaded in original quality from any of these four phones will count toward your Google Drive storage. We recommend setting Google Photos to high quality mode immediately to avoid filling up your space.

The promotion was fun while it lasted. The Pixel devices have some of the best smartphone cameras of any series of devices in the last few years. The ability to upload backups in original quality made them even more appealing to mobile photography buffs. However, for most people, the high quality mode works just fine. However, we do wonder why Google ceased such promotions on two smartphones with only 64GB of onboard storage with no option for expandable storage.

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