Google Photos has long offered one of the best deals in all of photo storage: it’ll back up your entire library for free, so long as it can compress the images a bit. But as of tomorrow, June 1st, that deal goes away, and you’re now eating through Google storage (which you may have to pay for) whether your images are compressed or not.
With the change looming, I’ve been wondering how bad Google’s compression actually is. Does the compression leave my photos in “High Quality,” as Google has claimed for years? Or does the compression degrade my photos enough to make it worth using more storage by switching over to “Original Quality” backups?
I ran some quick tests this morning to find out. I took some photos and videos from my Pixel 5 (one of a few phones that will continue to get free compressed storage) and a photo from my Fuji X-T30 and uploaded them to two separate Google Photos accounts, one with compression turned on and one that maintained original quality.
The results were mixed. For photos, the compressed versions were often indistinguishable from their uncompressed counterparts. But once you’re losing resolution, the compression really starts to show.
Here’s what I found across a handful of tests. You can click the images to view them at a larger size.
The original quality photo.