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What is the best photo instant upload option?

The idea is simple, but powerful; All the pictures we take on our phone are automatically uploaded to the clound, where they are readily available for sharing and also archived safely in case our phones crash.

This has only been possible (or should I say practical) recently with widespread 3G/4G connection and cheaper storage.

It started with the Google+ launch in 2011. Since then, others have followed suite and today an average use might have 4-5 apps on his/her phone asking if they should instantly upload photos. 

Putting aside the question of why so many company are vying for the honor of providing us this service. (Hint: It is always about data, and money to be made) I want to explore the available options for their pros and cons, and see if any one service rise above the others.

I am sure there are more, but these are the better known apps that offer instant upload of photos from your phone:

Instant Upload Comparison
  Google+ Apple iCloud Dropbox Facebook
Standard image size 2048px on longer edge 2304×1536 Original file size

~100KB over 3G/4G

Larger over WiFi (unclear)

Full-size upload option Yes Yes. Only available on Mac or PC Yes No
Videos upload Yes No Yes No
Sharing options Google+

Any iOS apps

Shared Photo Stream in iOS6

iOS & Android sharing options

Email link to photo(s) from Dropbox app

Facebook
Free storage

Unlimited for standard size photos

Unlimited for videos up to 15 minutes long and up to 1080p resolution

5GB for full-size images or larger videos

Latest 1000 photos not counted towards iCloud storage limit [ref]

5GB storage limit if saved in Camera Roll & Back Up

 

5GB (shared with common quota) 2GB
Additional storage cost Starts from $2.49/month for 25 GB [more] Starts fro $20/year for 10 GB [more] Starts at $9.99/month for 100 GB [more] Not Available.

 

Conclusion

With the number of photos we take on our phones, and the increasing image size (Megapixel war) I can’t see how servies without free storage will work well. So Dropbox and Facebook is out. Between Google+ and iCloud, the former is more generous with storage and supports videos. It is also available for both Android and iOS users, so overall is the better choice.

The downside is that it is difficult to share those Google+ instant upload outside of Google+. If you are on a PC or Mac, the photos can be easily downloaded for other use. But on your phone, the choice is limited. (For example, you can’t email or share them on other apps)