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Google’s killer cloud storage offer isn’t perfect: The biggest problem with Google Photos

Updated May 29th, 2015 11:49AM EDT
Google Photos App

As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Google’s big I/O 2015 keynote took place on Thursday, and it lasted for more than two hours. As you might imagine, there was plenty of news shared on stage during the lengthy event and much of it was intriguing. When it comes to announcements that really made waves though, there were only a few to be found.

In terms of generating buzz, Google Photos was definitely somewhere near the top of the list. Google announced that it was releasing an updated version of its photo-hosting solution, and it now would offer unlimited storage for photos and videos.

It’s a pretty incredible deal indeed, but real photography fans might want to read the fine print before they get too excited.

DON’T MISS: Google just released a huge update for the Inbox – and it’s now open to everyone

The new and improved Google Photos app is already available for Android and the iPhone. The associated service automatically backs up all photos and videos captured on a mobile device, and photos can also be uploaded manually from a desktop or laptop using the Google Photos website.

On the surface, this is the holy grail for casual, amateur and even professional photographers. Free… unlimited… storage. But “unlimited” is never truly unlimited, and Google Photos has two major limitations.

Photos uploaded to Google Photos have a maximum resolution of 16 megapixels, or 4920 x 3264 pixels. Any photos larger than that will automatically be downsampled by Google. This is fine for most current smartphone models, but images captured by any decent DSLR will see their quality reduced dramatically when they’re uploaded to Google Photos.

On the video side of things, 1080p is the highest resolution Google Photos supports, so all those 2K and 4K videos you recorded on your new Android phone will be downsampled as well.

To casual users, these limitations seem trivial — and they are. If the iPhone or an Android handset is your only camera, Google Photos is quite possibly the perfect cloud photo and video storage solution for you. If you’re a pro or even just an enthusiast though, these issues will be difficult to swallow.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.