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128GB iPhones get rumored again, this time thanks to iOS 6.1

Some people really want a 128GB iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, so whenever there's a new product refresh coming up, like the presumed iPhone 5s, rumors of higher storage capacities come with them. This time, however, it's the news that iOS 6.1 beta 5 provides support for larger storage capacities that's sent the rumors running. Neal on Twitter posted:

We should be seeing 128GB iDevices soon. iOS 6.1 beta 5 has 128G system partition key in BuildManifest.

Apple has historically increased storage sizes as a product differentiator, and when the cost of the required NAND flash storage made it cost effective to do so. Going from 64GB to 128GB and keeping the same size device means double density flash.

So, going in reverse order, component prices for high density flash would have to be cheap enough for Apple to maintain current prices and margins. And, Apple would have to be in the right place in their product cycle that it's a feature and not a throw-away. From my iPhone 5 preview:

When it comes to storage, Apple has doubled the maximum available capacity every two years. While the original iPhone shipped with an 8GB maximum, a 16GB version was introduced half a year later. The iPhone 3G also had a 16GB maximum. Both the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 have 32GB maximums. Last year, Apple doubled that again with the iPhone 4S, hitting 64GB. History, never mind pricing and NAND flash chip density, suggests we'll stay at 64GB for the iPhone 5 and for this year. What happens with a supposed iPhone 5s in another year is another story.

Well, it's that year now, so it's safe to add 128GB to your iPhone 5s, iPod touch 5 mark II, iPad 5, and iPad mini 2 speculation lists.

Whether cloud storage, either Apple's own iCloud or service like Dropbox mitigate the product pressure for 128GB remains to be seen. There will always be some people who want as much as they can have locally on their device -- witness the continued existence of the iPod classic. (And, as Mark Gurman once again points out on Twitter, the former could finally send the latter off to outdated iPod retirement land, presumably somewhere in Florida...)

Heck, Apple could probably offer a 256GB device at $999 and find some segment of the market still asking for more.

The only question is how much storage hits the price and sales sweet spot for Apple in 2013. Do you still need or want more, or has the cloud changed your mind?

Source: Neal via iDownloadblog

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • If you ask me, size ALWAYS matters!
  • Wait! We're still talking about phones right ... ; P
  • Yeah me too sizes is meter. Cuz I could put in big stuff....
  • What are they going to charge $600 with a contract for that?
  • I'd love to see the storage size double again at the existing price points. 32gb/64gb/128gb for (iPhone) $199/$299/$399(on contract) I always go for the middle (32 GB iPhone 5 & iPad 3) so would love for this price to be 64 GB in time for my refresh (iPhone 6 & iPad 6 (fall 2014). I planned in 64 GB in my next iPad anyway, so I would either go 128 GB or jump to the + cellular model. Long story short? I won't spend less than I do now. So if it makes sense price wise, then Apple won't lose money.
  • Question is however will the 128GB simply replace the 64GB and bump everyone down or will the new contract price be $499? That seems hard to believe.
  • That is something to get excited about if the price point stays the same $399 is high enough.
  • I could see this working if they kept the current price points but just eliminated the 16gb model, but then again with them pushing for more of the cloud I do not see them going this large for storage, at least not for the iphone anyway. Maybe this is just for the ipads?
  • What's taking up most of the space on my iPhone and iPad? Apps. Especially Apple apps. I don't see the demand for them going away, so more storage is needed even with the cloud. What's next? Photos. iCloud and others can and are picking up the slack on this. After that? Videos. Apple has yet to provide a VideoStream like they do with PhotoStream. And there is no easy way to transfer movies into iPhoto or iMovie on a Mac, so they often stay in my iPhone. Extra storage would help.
  • It isn't as elegant as an Apple stock decision would be, but Photo Transfer App works pretty well at getting the photos and videos off your iDevice to your Mac wirelessly. Mac App and iOS app. I'd like to see it done natively, but this helps bridge the gap.
  • i always transfer my video from my 4S to my mac, using just only mac standard app "preview". and it's just as easy as you transfer other media from external drive. or if you want to put into iPhoto, just sync it.
  • I wonder if apple will drop the 16GB model and start with the 32GB at $199. They did it when they went from the 3G to 3GS, the 3GS stared with 16GB instead of 8GB. Do any of you think this will be a possible?
  • Dropping the 16gb model would be a bit dumb for Apple. It needs to be small enough to entice people to upgrade over the base model (which it is, i couldn't use just 16gb). If 32gb becomes the base model, then all of a sudden i'm buying the base model for the first time. If Apple enjoys getting a 100 less from me, ok then. If the 128gb model becomes a reality, I see them getting rid of the 32gb or 64gb, but keeping the 16gb is a must for them. So it'll go something like 16, 32, 128. Apple would love for you to buy the highest tier iphone as it's more margin for them. This provides more incentive.
  • I think you might be in the minority. I bet the iPod touch is a barometer for this plan. Get rid of the 16 GB and see if it canabalizes sales.
  • Never make the base model too appealing. 32gb? Don't think so. Besides..what's "this plan?" Rene mentioned the "maximum" available capacity" is doubled every two years. Not minimum.
  • Finally, the 128GB will probably cost them an additonal $20 but we always pay $100 for more storage. Since Apple doesn't like to offer a SD card slot they are obliged to always offer more capacity as an option. This beta also means that a new 128GB iDevice is coming with the (again postponed) release of 6.1 update soooo .....1st - 5th of March ?
  • Cloud storage has not taken away the need for more on device storage. Even with Dropbox, I find myself filling up my phone with huge apps (ie, top games can be over 1gb each) as well as recording lots of HD video and using iMovie to edit together. Cloud storage doesn't solve either of those. You need more on device storage for tasks like that. Not to mention all those times when your device can't connect to the internet. (not just when you're in the boonies either. Try using it at a sporting event or concert)
  • Re: "Cloud storage has not taken away the need for more on device storage." It certainly hasn't. I don't think iCloud (or any cloud infrastructure) will be truly convenient until "real 4G" is rolled out. Hopefully in just a few years. "Real 4G" will take over where LTE / HSPA+ left off, with the real 4G data rate requirements starting at 1 GB/sec for stationary (walking speed / desktop) and 100 MB/sec for highly mobile (cars / trains.) LTE is, of course, the best and final iteration of the 3G protocol. Will be glad to see 4G replace it. Re: "...I find myself filling up my phone with huge apps..." Yup. Retina iPad graphics can get pretty big on universal apps. And if you want your app to be compatible with all Retina iPhones and iPads, you might also need to throw in iPhone 4 aspect ratio images too. Depending, of course, on how image-intensive your app is.
  • It's about choice! I personally reject the cloud stuff as virtual bullshit and I guess I'm not alone here. Off-line internet services for 96 hours (last week) and iCloud offline/down (as experienced) proves me right. Combine this with my need for controlling access to my own stuff and cloud-based nothingness is definitely a No-No! This is my personal view of the subject and relevant for me only! - Give me a 512 GB iPad 5 and I take it!
  • That and no more unlimited data plans mean many cant rely on the cloud.
  • This is so true. With capped data plans, we can't be expected to always transfer things to and from the cloud. Apple needs to get rid of the 16 gig model and make the 32 it's baseline. My wife has an iPhone 4 with 8 gigs of storage and it filled up really fast. Guess what she doesn't do apps. Her phone is full with what she needs so she doesn't go shopping for more. I can't believe she's alone in this. Apple costs themselves App Store revenue by making the storage so small.
  • Yes, I could really use an upgrade from the 64GB. My iPhone is so full, I can barely add a movie to my player for my next train ride without deleting something first. Most of the space is filled with apps, they're getting pretty big nowadays.
  • Better late than never.
  • Check out the CLIPCLOCK mobile app. The new social hub to discover and share the best video moments with your favorites!!! Here's the link:
  • Well, iCloud is as good as your Internet connection is. When I am going to the country house in the beautiful Province of Quebec, there is not such thing as an Internet connection so iCloud is completely useless. I can't wait for this 128 GB phone as my iTunes library maxed out a long time ago the 64 GB limit (and not counting videos and movies). So I am the typical early adopter of an 128 GB iPhone (this is why I passed on the iPhone 5). Benji.
  • More storage is absolutely the *only* feature that Apple has ever released on their phones which has enticed me to upgrade. Show me 128gb and I'll upgrade, pure and simple.