PSA: Pixel 3a and 3a XL free photo and video backups are limited to high quality

A standout feature of all Pixels thus far has been the ability to upload original quality photos and videos to Google Photos for free. You could upload as many photos and videos as you'd want from a Pixel device to Photos, and it would never count against your quota. From the Pixel 2, Google started limiting unlimited uploads to just over three years from the launch of the device, and that's the case with the Pixel 3 series as well.

But things are changing with the Pixel 3a and 3a XL. Google's latest devices are its first products in the mid-range segment, and while they offer the same stellar camera as the Pixel 3 series, Google omitted a few features to get to that sub-$500 price point. Unlimited original quality photo and video backups is one of them, with the phones only offering unlimited high quality uploads, just like every other Android phone out there.

Google Photos does a fantastic job with compression, and more often than not I don't notice any loss in detail when comparing photos saved in high quality with the originals. If you shoot a lot of 4K video, know that it will be resized to 1080p, and the same for photos: anything over 16MP will be resized. But for the most part, the same level of detail is maintained even though the file sizes are drastically reduced.

You can always switch it to original quality uploads — just like on any other phone — but that will count against your storage quota. Google was upfront about the change in the Pixel 3a marketing materials, and it mentioned as such in the keynote. So if you want original quality photo and video backups, you'll have to spring for the Pixel 3 or the 3 XL.

Keep the photo journey flowing on the go

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is Android Central's Senior Editor of Asia. In his current role, he oversees the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, networking products, and AV gear. He has been testing phones for over a decade, and has extensive experience in mobile hardware and the global semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.