Google's promise of unlimited storage for the newly launched Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL isn't so free and open after all.
The company announced on Wednesday that owners of any Pixel phone will be able to store all the photos and videos they want to online in Google Photos for as long as they use a Pixel phone.
That's true, but there's a catch. Not every photo will be as high-resolution as you might want.
For background, Google Photos lets all non-Pixel phone owners upload photos in full, "original" resolution for free. That is, until you hit the 15GB storage limit across Photos, Gmail and Google Drive. You could alternatively choose to upload as many photos and videos as you want at "high quality," with no storage limitations.
Google defines "high quality" as 16-megapixel photos and 1080p videos. When you choose this unlimited storage option, Google will compress any larger photos and videos down to "high quality."
Pixel owners, on the other hand, get a little reprieve. They can upload all of their photos and videos at full resolution for free, "original quality" in Google's lexicon. That is, until 2020. After that, things change. New photos and videos taken on any Pixel phone after 2020 will be compressed to Google's "high quality"standard (16-megapixel photos and 1080p video).
According to the fine print, "Free, unlimited original-quality storage for photos and videos taken with Pixel through the end of 2020, and free, unlimited high-quality storage for photos taken with Pixel afterwards." It's a little confusing, we know.
Google confirmed to CNET that after 2020, it won't retroactively compress all your full-resolution Pixel uploads before 2020. Only new uploads will be compressed, and old uploads will stay at original quality.
Google is banking on the Pixel 2's camera quality, and perk of free storage to help it stand out from dual-camera phones like the iPhone X and Galaxy Note 8. In fact, Google thinks its single 12-megapixel is better than those dual-camera phones. The Pixel 2 also scored even higher than the original according to photography testers DxOMark, which awarded it a score of 98.
The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are currently available for preorder through the Google Store. Be sure to check out CNET's first impressions of the Pixel 2 phones.