How much storage do you need on an iPhone
Lewis Painter’s advice will help you find the right storage option
One of the hardest decisions you have to make when buying an iPhone is choosing the storage option: 32-, 128- or 256GB? Will you fill up a 256GB iPad? Is a 32GB iPhone enough for your needs? Is it worth saving money and buying the smaller storage capacity? Here we look at the various factors you should consider.
Local storage vs cloud storage
Apple’s cloud storage service, iCloud, provides users with unlimited storage for everything purchased from iTunes – apps, iBooks, music, movies and TV shows – and the option
of streaming media, rather than having to download it before watching/listening.
Beyond this, Apple provides 5GB of iCloud storage free of charge. If you need more Apple offers the following:
50GB: 79p per month 200GB: £2.49 per month 1TB: £6.99 per month 2TB: £13.99 per month
While Apple’s integrated cloud storage option is the go-to for many, there are other alternatives available, including Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive.
Note that while files can be stored in the cloud, they must be captured locally and uploaded. You can’t record a 4K video from your iPhone directly onto iCloud or Dropbox!
Conclusion: Ask yourself whether you use iCloud, Google Photos or other cloud storage services to store and access photos, videos and other media? If the answer is yes, then you may get away opting for 32GB storage, depending on the amount of apps you install. Although if you don’t use cloud services, or just want to be extra safe, we’d recommend going for 128GB or 256GB.
Streaming vs saving
iTunes offers a huge range of TV shows, movies and music available for purchase. A typical standard definition movie from iTunes can be around 1- to 3GB while a high-definition movie can easily hit 6GB. TV programmes are smaller in size individually, but a series will be much larger. Of course, music files are tiny in comparison, but a locally stored
library of music can quickly fill up an iPhone or iPad. It’s a similar story with streaming apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify and Apple Music.
However, while the files may be large, those with a fast enough internet connection have the option to stream on-demand, rather than save media locally. The benefit is that it frees up storage on your device for apps and other files, although there are trade-ins. You won’t, for example, have any access to your media without an internet connection, and it may eat up a large portion of mobile data if not on Wi-Fi. Not good for those with capped data contracts.
Conclusion: If you stream most of your media rather than download it for offline use, then you may be able to get by on 32GB. Those that have large media libraries that are stored locally should opt for 128- or even 256GB depending on the size of the collection.
Photography and videos
The iPhone 7 series has two 12Mp cameras capable of taking incredibly detailed photos and videos. However, that added detail means that photo files are larger than they used to be, and that’s without considering Live Photos – Giflike videos captured alongside the full-resolution photos. These can take up to double the space of standard photos.
It’s a similar story with video – the iPhone 7 series can capture 4K video, which takes up much more storage than standard 1080p video. For comparison, a one-minute video shot at 1080p at 30fps will be around 130MB, while a 4K at 30fps video of the same length will be over double at 350MB. Of course, cloud storage can help take the load off a large photo library, but it’s not an ideal situation – especially if you’re trigger happy and run out of storage while capturing.
Conclusion: Do you intend to take a lot of photos, or shoot long videos on your iPhone or iPad? If you only take the occasional snap, 32GB may suffice. For anything more than the odd selfie, we’d recommend 128GB - possibly even 256GB if you’re more video-focused.
Apps and games
For most people, apps and games take up the majority of iPhone and iPad storage, and it’s not hard to see why.