Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
Google One storage is the default cloud storage service on Android phones worldwide, and it offers a pretty seamless backup experience. The service also means quick access to all your data across many devices – convenience at its best.
There is, however, one complaint I have about Google One. And that’s the fact that Google hasn’t upgraded core storage in years.
100 GB was good ten years ago
Google Drive was initially launched in 2012, taking on iCloud, Dropbox, SkyDrive and several other storage services. The company’s cheapest paid storage plan gave you 25GB of storage for $2.49 per month. Meanwhile, 100GB of storage would cost you $4.99 per month at launch.
Google revised its pricing in 2014, offering 100 GB of basic storage for just $1.99 per month. To Google’s credit, this was a good deal at the time. In contrast, Dropbox’s 100GB plan was priced at $9.99 per month. Apple’s iCloud didn’t have a 100GB plan, but charged a fairly respectable $2.99 per month for its 200GB tier. Google would offer a 200GB tier for the same price in 2018.
Fast forward to 2023, and the cheapest Google One storage plan still costs $1.99 per month for 100GB. We’re clearly overdue for an upgrade.
100 GB won’t go far in 2023
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
Simply put, 100GB isn’t a lot of storage today. Perhaps the biggest reason is that Google Photos storage is no longer free.
Google once offered unlimited backups of high-quality photos and videos, and many people took advantage of it. These backups did not count towards your Google cloud storage plan, allowing you to use your free or paid storage plan for other files such as documents, RAW files, games, etc.
Google discontinued free, unlimited photo/video backups in 2021, but many people still have automatic backups enabled. I’m one of them, which has led to exponential consumption of my cloud storage.
100GB of Google One storage only goes so far when photos and videos count towards your cloud storage plan.
This isn’t helped by the fact that photos and video files are larger than ever, thanks to features like 8K video, HDR video, and ultra-high resolution snapshots. We’ve seen new formats like HEIF photos and HEVC videos, allowing phone manufacturers to offer smaller file sizes or higher quality media for the same file size. However, the general trend is still towards larger file sizes, especially with phones like the Galaxy S23 Ultra capable of producing 200MP photos with a file size of over 30MB.
The Pixel 8’s 50MP JPEG images are about three times as much storage as a 12.5MP image (although 9MB versus ~3MB). This trend is also apparent for the iPhone 15 series, as the new phones run at 24 MP by default, which would result in an admittedly modest increase in files of around 1 MB. But these file sizes add up over time. Similarly, the Pixel 8 Pro’s Video Boost/Night Sight Video feature requires cloud storage and processing rather than on-device processing, which consumes even more space.
Smartphones now offer more local storage and larger photo/video sizes, but cloud storage has not kept pace.
It could be argued that cloud storage is less important as physical storage pools grow. It’s common to find flagship smartphones with 1TB of storage, while even cheap phones are available with 256GB of storage in 2023. It’s a far cry from the first year of Google Drive, where high-end phones offered 16 GB to 64 GB of storage. Still, there’s no denying that cloud storage is more important than ever for storing files across multiple devices and sharing memories with family and friends. Google’s affordable option just isn’t keeping up.
Storage tends to get cheaper over time, so I find it hard to believe that cloud storage costs haven’t declined overall compared to the early 2010s. Either 100GB should be cheaper, or we should have more for the same price. However, Google Cloud has admittedly announced big price increases in 2022, so perhaps managing that storage is keeping prices high.
It must be said that Google is not the only cloud player to remain relatively stable on basic storage plans. Apple’s iCloud still maintains the same 50GB ($0.99 per month) and 200GB ($2.99 per month) tiers after all this time. Microsoft OneDrive still matches Google in charging $1.99 per month for 100 GB of storage, jumping straight to 1 TB for $6.99 per month.
It’s time for Google to move with the times
Even though cloud storage costs haven’t dropped significantly over the past decade to allow for more basic storage on Google One, there are still other ways Google could give you more bang for your buck. On the one hand, Google could offer a true rival to Apple One, bundling its various services (including a larger cloud storage plan) into one cost-effective package.
Is 100GB of Google One storage enough for you?
The company could also offer more useful Family Sharing features (even for a small fee). This way, each member gets 100GB of storage rather than each family member getting a share of your 100GB storage plan. Google could even theoretically convert our backed up photos and videos to the more efficient HEIF and HEVC formats , thus freeing up space.
Regardless, Google has been offering 100GB of basic cloud storage for $1.99 per month for about a decade. Our needs for cloud storage have only increased since then, so it’s high time the company updated Google One’s core storage to reflect this new reality.