Google to start charging for photo storage. What to do?

I’m an iPhone user and have been using Google Photos (as opposed to Apple Photos) for a long time now, but with the recent announcement that Google will start charging for storage for any new uploads (starting June 1st 2021) I started to consider whether to move back to using Apple photos or stick with Google photos. In doing so I realised the following:

  1. I want to continue to use a cloud system with all its advantages of sharing etc. and not have to manage/backup all my photos manually myself.
  2. Whilst Apple and Google photos are both great I realised that there’s a significant difference between the approach of how the two systems work and the Google approach makes things easier to manage.

TL;DR I’m sticking with Google photos and will pay a little more for storage when it becomes necessary, but if you’re interested why you can keep reading 🙂

Apple’s approach

Apple’s iCloud storage is device focused. It automatically backs up your photos to the cloud so it can copy/sync them between your Apple devices. The photos exist in the cloud and on your device.

Google’s approach

Google photos is cloud focused, it stores your photos in the cloud so they can be accessed from any device i.e. it doesn’t automatically copy/sync the data onto each of your devices.

The crux of the matter: device space

The issue for me comes down to how the space is managed on your phone and the problem with the Apple approach occurs when your phone starts to run out of space.

When you start to run out of space on your phone (and you will ‘cos we all take loads of photos and want to keep them) the way you’d clear space is to delete something but you probably don’t want to delete your photos, and that’s the issue.

With Apple/iCloud when you delete a photo from your phone it gets deleted from iCloud too and therefore all your devices, unless you make a copy of it elsewhere first. So you have to be careful if you don’t want to lose your photos.

With Google there is an option to remove photos from your phone but they will remain in Google photos, in the cloud. They have a specific option to do this*. So you can clear space on your device and still keep your photos. 

* To be fair there is a similar option on Apple photos called “Optimise storage” but in my experience it doesn’t work as well with the phone still running out of space and saying Apple photos still indicating is using 100gb’s+ of space.

The Google approach is just less hassle!

Most people want to keep a complete history of their photos with a minimum of fuss and so do I, and I think this is easier to achieve with Google Photos.

I can have my complete library of photos backed up in the cloud and not have too much hassle dealing with managing space on my devices or worrying about losing my history of photos or manually backing things up and managing my own storage. For a couple of quid more a month I think it’s worth it.

Of course it’s up to you, this is just my take on things, hope this might help you decide.


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