Without Unlimited Google Photos Storage, A 64GB Pixel 4 Makes No Sense

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Google is selling the Pixel 4, with just 64GB of storage, that's bound to be a problem.

Especially with the news yesterday that Google won't be giving Pixel 4 buyers unlimited original quality storage on Google Photos. That was really the saving grace for the small amounts of storage that Google was putting in the Pixel 4. Seeing as you could upload all your photos to Google Photos and free up a ton of space.

Google is offering a 128GB model of the Pixel 4, but most carriers are not going to sell it. And it's another $100 for just 64GB more storage. That's pretty outrageous.

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64GB was fine, three years ago

With many more smartphones offering storage that starts at 128GB and even 256GB for the base-model, it seems silly that Google is sticking with 64GB.

It's probably still going to be enough for most people though, and those that aren't too upset with Google Photos no longer giving Pixel users unlimited original quality storage. But that was a selling point for Pixel smartphones. And it worked well with the incredible camera that Google had on the Pixels.

Google Pixel 4 Hands On AM AH 22
Google Pixel 4: Camera

But just because it's enough storage today, doesn't mean it will be a year from now. Most people are not upgrading their phones every year. Many are opting to upgrade every two to three years, if not longer. If Google had bumped up the storage to 128GB and 256GB, it would have made the Pixel 4 smartphones a bit more future-proof.

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Apps and games are also getting larger and larger, and at just 64GB of storage on the Pixel 4, you probably won't be able to keep as many as you'd like, on your device. It's unfortunate. Especially since Google doesn't have a micro SD card on the Pixel 4.

Now the micro SD card slot, we're not as upset about. I can't tell you the last time I actually used a micro SD card on a smartphone. But limiting the storage to 64GB and not giving users the ability to expand it, is a big mistake.

Pixel 4's main feature will use up the majority of the storage

The main feature of any Pixel smartphone, is the camera. And that's no different here with the Pixel 4. It has a pretty incredible camera, which is going to take some great images. And it's going to make the user use the camera a lot more than normal. That also means that it's going to be using up a lot more space than normal.

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In the short amount of time that we've had the Pixel 4, most of the pictures we've taken have been around 6MB in size. Now that might seem small, but take a few hundred photos and that really starts to add up.

Never mind recording video. The Pixel 4 does support 4K video too, which uses a ton of storage.

Because Google is sticking with just 64GB of storage, users are going to need to either purchase more Google Drive space to upload everything in original quality on Google Photos, or deal with the smaller photos on Google Photos. Luckily, there is a quick and easy way to upload everything to Google Photos and remove them from your smartphone though. It's in the settings of the Google Photos app, just tap on "Free Up Space".

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But you shouldn't have to do this. Especially when you're spending this kind of money on a smartphone. But there is a reason for it, and it's one that none of us are going to like.

Google wants to sell you services

The Pixel 4 storage problem isn't really a problem, in Google's eyes. Google has always been a services company, and the Pixel 4 really highlights just that.

Instead of giving users unlimited storage on Google Photos, you'll now need to purchase that storage through its new Google One. Now you can get 100GB for just $2 per month, which isn't expensive, and most people will likely sign up for Google One 100GB and then forget about it, since it is so cheap. And that's what Google is counting on. Think about it. If a million people sign up for this, that's $2 million in Google's bank account. For offering basically nothing.

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Google Pixel 4 Hands On AM AH 24
Google Pixel 4: App Drawer

And if you don't believe us, that this is what Google is trying to do, just take a look at what Google is including with the Pixel 4. Three months of Google One. It's getting its users in the door with Google One, and hoping that you forget to cancel before the three months are up. That way it can start charging you for the service.

Google isn't alone in doing this though. Apple does this too. And in fact, it only gives you 5GB of iCloud space. At least Google gives you 15GB for free. Though that is a bit of a misleading number. Google gives you 5GB each for Gmail, Google Drive and Google Photos – which equals 15GB. It's basically a pot of storage that you can use for these three services – so Gmail isn't limited to just 5GB of space, etc.

It does suck, for customers, but this is how companies like Google are going to keep making money, after they've sold their phone. It's especially important now, with customers keeping their smartphones for longer periods of time. That is actually why Apple had to turn itself into a services company. Because people weren't buying a new iPhone every single year, and had to figure out another way to bring in money. So it now has Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and a few other things that charge customers monthly.

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An $800 smartphone with only 64GB of storage is a joke

Say what you want about the Pixel 4, it is a good phone. But there are two glaring issues with it, at its current price. A big problem on the Pixel 4 is storage capacity. 64GB of storage at $799 is a joke. I mean, we're seeing smartphones that are under $300 coming with 64GB of storage and a micro SD card slot on top of that.

We're also seeing phones like the OnePlus 7T coming in at a lower price of $599 with 128GB of storage by default. But, this is Google, and it's trying to be the iPhone of Android. And for some reason, Apple is also sticking with 64GB of storage on all of the iPhone 11 models. We aren't letting them slide either. Paying $1100 for a smartphone with 64GB of storage is an even bigger joke, in 2019.

Would it really cost Google that much more to add 128GB of storage versus 64GB? Nope. The prices of flash storage are very cheap right now, and have been for the past few years. On the scale that Google is making Pixel 4 smartphones, it likely would have cost them pennies on each Pixel 4 unit, to double the storage capacity. And instead, it is charging the customer $100 to go from the 64GB to 128GB model.

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Hopefully, this is the last year that we see Google with a 64GB Pixel smartphone – it might be okay on the Pixel 4a, depending on the price though. It's really time to leave that storage behind and give users 128GB or 256GB in their smartphones. The more the better, especially with how great this camera is.

Wrap Up

This isn't the first Pixel smartphone to come without unlimited original quality backup in Google Photos. The Pixel 3a also lacked that perk. But given the price of the Pixel 3a, it wasn't a big deal. The Pixel 3a was coming in at $399 and $479. Pretty incredible values for what they were, never mind the no Google Photos backup in original quality.

But now that it is extending to the Pixel 4, it seems like a bait and switch. Google had been offering this perk on the Pixel, Pixel 2 and Pixel 3. And customers will still get that feature through January 2022. It's still strange that Google opted to remove this perk on the Pixel 4 though.

Adding that lack of Google Photos unlimited original quality backup along with the lack of internal storage to begin with, makes the Pixel 4 seem like it's more of a premium mid-range smartphone. Google's Pixel smartphones have never been about specs though, but there are some specs that do matter. Like storage capacity. And the Pixel 4 storage is definitely a problem.

Spending $800 on a smartphone that has only 64GB of internal storage just seems like a crime. And Google should be ashamed of itself for doing this. Even though I am upset that there is only 64GB of storage in the base model, I'm still probably going to buy a Pixel 4. There's so much more that I love about the Pixel lineup, especially that camera. Which no other manufacturer has been able to catch up too. Even with the portrait mode, which has been around for a few years already, many competitors just can't match it. Samsung comes close, but its Live Focus only works on people. Which isn't a good look.

It's up to you, ultimately, but buying a 64GB smartphone for $800 just doesn't seem like a good idea.