Google has revealed to its Google One subscribers that its High Quality photo option may reduce image quality more than previously advertised. The admission is a departure from the service’s long-held position that High Quality photos are near identical to the original version and that users could safely delete originals once uploaded to Google Photos.
Google High Quality Photo Option Comes Under Scrutiny
Back when Google Photos launched in 2015, it came with a strong selling point. You could upload as many photos as you wanted to the service for free, provided you allowed Google to switch them into its High Quality mode.
However, a recent email sent to its Google One subscribers hammered home the point that “Original quality photos preserve the most detail and let you zoom in, crop and print photos with less pixelation.” The email also encouraged users to make the most of their storage quote by uploading and storing Original Quality images, rather than relying on the High Quality image option.
Part of the reasoning behind this push is that from June 2021, Google Photos Hight Quality mode will only offer 15GB of free storage. If you reach the 15GB limit, you’ll have to pay to expand your Google Photos storage or just stop using the service.
In many ways, it appears Google is pushing users to reduce the amount of free photo storage space available to them before the subscription model begins in earnest.
High Quality vs. Original Quality Photos
The email explaining the changes included a photo image illustrating the difference between a High Quality image and an Original Quality image.
While the quality difference on display seems stark, it’s important to note that this is hardly representative of the actual difference in quality. Yes, the High Quality image will have some compression, but it won’t look like a grainy mess as Google is suggesting.
Your High Quality images are stored at up to 16-megapixel quality. That’s still larger than the default image size on many modern smartphones. So, while the impending changes to the Google Photos terms and conditions are important, you don’t have to fret quite as much as Google wants you to.
If you’re concerned about how much Google Photos storage you have remaining, you can use Google’s space calculator to find out how long your storage will last. The calculator considers how frequently you upload data and your remaining storage space and gives you a rough estimate of how long it will take to fill up your Google Account.