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Google Photos is going away soon—or at least, the useful free service we used to store years’ worth of photographs is finally getting hit with a storage limit. Go beyond that, and you’ll have to pay to store your photos. That’s not great, but what’s almost as annoying are the scare tactics Google is using to convince free users to switch over to a paid subscription.

As Forbes’ Paul Monckton wrote last week:

“In a recent subscriber email, the Google Photos team has outlined new premium editing features available exclusively to its paying Google One customers. However, the email also contains a somewhat surprising section encouraging users to use up more of their storage quota by switching from High Quality to Original Quality uploads or risk seemingly dire consequences

According to the email, ‘Original quality photos preserve the most detail and let you zoom in, crop and print photos with less pixelation.’ While this statement is objectively true, it is at odds with what Google has told us in the past about its High Quality option.”

Google also dropped in a photo to illustrate the apparent, perceptible difference between “original” and “high” quality settings. However, their example is a bit suspect—it’s a shot of a bird that looks perfect on the “original quality” side, and pixilated or blurry on the “high quality” side. (I didn’t get the email from Google myself, or I’d drop here for you to judge.)

It doesn’t really matter, though, because Google is being alarmist. What I think the company is actually trying to say is that High Quality photographs are stored at a maximum of 16MP, or 4920 x 3264 pixels, while original quality pictures are (obviously) stored with no limit to their file sizes, pixel counts, or dimensions. In theory, you can crop down to a smaller portion of a High Quality image and still retain a high enough level of detail for, say, printing a copy—more so than you would otherwise have if you cropped down to that same section of a lower-resolution image.

Sure. But is the difference really as jarring as Google makes it? For starters, if you’re taking selfies, odds are good that your image isn’t even hitting the 16MP cap for Google Photos’ “High Quality” images in the first place. For example, here’s the same image back-to-back. The first is the original image, the second is a download of Google Photos’ “High Quality” image:



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