The Google Pixel 5a and Pixel 6 may come bundled with unlimited photo and video backups
Google's aim of monetising Google Photos has been clear for some time, but future Pixel smartphones may still have access to unlimited downloads. As we reported last year, Google will end its free unlimited photo storage on Google Photos as of June 1, 2021, with photos uploaded after that counting against your 15 GB data cap. If you exceed this amount, then you must purchase a Google One subscription.
Even Pixel smartphones are affected by the change, as David Lieb of Google Photos confirmed in November. XDA Developers has discovered in Google Photos 5.4.1 that Google is working on a new backup quality for Pixel smartphones. Currently, Google Photos offers 'Original', 'High quality' and 'Express quality', quality levels, although the third is not available everywhere. Google has added support for 'Storage saver' in Google Photos 5.4.1 though, tying it to Pixel smartphones.
The strings describe 'Storage saver' as a mode that uploads photos and videos in a 'slightly reduced quality', whatever that means. On the face of it, 'Storage saver' sounds like 'High quality', so Google could be replacing the latter with the former from next month.
There is also a string in Google Photos 5.4.1 for 'Storage saver quality on this device is free & unlimited;, so we would not be surprised if Google offers this as a promotion on future Pixel smartphones. The Pixel 6 will probably be one of the first devices to take advantage of this promotion, which Google has seemingly confirmed will feature its first custom SoC, too. We imagine that Google will offers this for the Pixel 5a too, which should launch before the Pixel 6.