Is 64GB in an iPhone enough? I think so, and I'll tell you why

iPhone Storage
iPhone Storage (Image credit: iMore)

This post is something I've been thinking about on and off for a few weeks now. But seeing Joe Maring pose the question of whether 64GB is enough for a phone in 2019, I figured I wasn't the only one thinking along these lines. So here we are.

In that post, Joe shares the thoughts of some of the Android Central forum family, and to my surprise, the consensus was that 64GB is, generally at least, plenty. Maybe the only people who complain about 64GB starting points from Apple and Google are those who tend to complain at anything and everything. And, of course, those who think specs are more important than user experience. "Moar storage, more processors, moar everything" I hear them cry. But who really needs more than 64GB of storage in an iPhone?

I've never bought an iPhone with more than 64GB of storage. I've always tended to buy the one with the lowest storage available, too. It just isn't something I struggle with. Which is odd, because you'd imagine if anyone was going to need globs of space it would be someone who writes about phones and apps for a living. But here I am with my 64GB iPhone 11 Pro with 20GB free. If anyone's wondering, I have a 64GB iPad Pro with 20GB free, too.

iPhone storage usage

iPhone storage usage (Image credit: iMore)

My iPhone storage currently looks like this. I have all of my years of photos and videos on there, plus a healthy collection of games and of course more apps than most. Yet I'm fine. How?

Two main reasons:

  • First, I let iCloud Photo Library handle its storage needs. It keeps only the most recent shots as full resolution images. Everything else is available as a thumbnail and then iOS downloads it as needed. When you have more than 100GB of photos, that comes in handy on a 64GB iPhone.
  • Second, I let iOS offload apps. That way, I still have all of the apps that I use regularly but all of the ones I don't, get offloaded. They're still visible on my Home screen and can be downloaded when tapped. I have fast internet, so that isn't an issue – your mileage may vary, there – and all saved data is exactly that, saved. It's like magic, but with science behind it.

These two things mean that I just don't run out of space. Sure, if Apple's 2020 flagship iPhone starts at 128GB that's what I'll get. And sure, it'll probably be almost full because iOS is handling the housekeeping for me. But if 64GB is an option you can be sure that's what I'll buy.

Now, I'm sure there will be people who need more storage. There are always edge cases. Always people who want to download TV shows and movies for offline playback. There will always be people who want to have more than 64GB of music available even when outside of cell signal. And there will even be some who just want to download the entire Apple Arcade catalog just because. But this is one of those situations where the words most people are important. Most people don't need more than 64GB of storage. At least, that's what I think anyway.

But enough about me. I want to know what you're using and whether it's sufficient. I've attached a handy dandy pole for the purpose as well. And you know where the comments are, too!

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • Very refreshing to read a tech journalist who lives in the real world. All the righteous indignation about the Pixel 4 starting at 64gb caused me to have a look at my own phone. I'm using 40gb out of 256gb and I could easily reduce that by 10gb.
  • Your reasoning is all logical and makes sense. The one flaw is that not everyone has access to a sufficient data connection 24/7/365 to make use of cloud services possible, either via wifi, a DSL connection, or their cellular carrier's data plan, if that data plan is restricted to a certain amount like 4 or 8 GB or if their carrier does not offer an LTE connection fast enough to support uploading and downloading all the time. Having your photos store in the cloud is great, and using streaming audio and video services is great, but the cellular carriers have not provisioned their entire systems to handle doing all that everywhere you might happen to be, especially if you are near something like a national park where you might be taking lots of pictures and video of your family and suddenly cannot upload anything. I don't use iCloud Photo and store all my music files on my phone, even though I do subscribe to Apple Music for streaming when an adequate cellular or wifi connection is available. For other purposes, I sync my iPhone to my computer regularly and keep everything backed up there and on an external hard drive. Call that "Old School" if you like, but it's a great way to keep control of your data.
  • I happen to use SMARTphones rather than smartPHONES. I have quite some apps installed (and a vast library to install from). Some with considerable content (like 2GB in off-line maps) and some that could easily generate quite some data (like video). Moreover, I want some space for shifting files around. I don't need much local space for permanent storage, though.
    Anyway, I want (at least) 128GB on smartphones, preferably 256GB on tablets (not too common yet over on Android), 512GB on notebooks, and 1TB on desktops.
  • We all use smartphones, nothing about storage makes a phone smart. Most people are streaming videos/music, and using services like Google/Apple Maps which use online maps. Even if you're driving through an area with not much coverage, all the modern maps services will download the data needed for the journey as soon as you enter in your destination and hit go. The majority of most users' storage is occupied by apps, and the well made apps don't use that much space, it's bad ones like Facebook/WhatsApp which eat storage for no reason whatsoever.
  • "And, of course, those who think specs are more important than user experience. "Moar storage, more processors, moar everything" I hear them cry. But who really needs more than 64GB of storage in an iPhone?" What is "moar storage" and "moar everything"?
  • I guess you don't browse the likes of Reddit that often, "moar" is just used in the online society to exaggerate the word when people keep asking for more things unnecessarily.
  • So for my use case I definitely need more storage. As a Canadian I get a measly 5GB of data for my $45/month (This is without phone subsidy or anything) I also travel a lot so I need space for my music (running jams, playlists for working, playlists for chilling out) and podcasts. I also take a lot of video and photos when I travel and like saving them when it comes to storytelling. As I got my iPhone for video capabilities I do keep the video setting at 4k because why not? I take more video with my iPhone since it is so much better than my DSLR I think 64 GB is great for lots of people that stream playlists, and use iCloud, but even if I use cloud storage for photos (OneDrive) I really like having 256GB on my phone instead.
  • Not sure why America/Canada seem to be so behind on mobile data, most other countries give you more than enough for a decent price, you'd think Apple would push the carriers over there to provide more.
  • Not even close. I have 256 on my iPhone X, and I have about 180 filled at all times. I do have a few high end games like GRID and NBA2k20 and Pinball Arcade filling some of that, but a lot of that space is used by music and TV for offline viewing. I would hate the constant juggle of 64 GB! Now, maybe if I lived in an urban area with a constant full speed LTE signal, I wouldn't need as much storage, but as it is, I couldn't get by on so little storage!
  • I have a 256GB iPhone 8 Plus, a 256GB iPad mini 5, a 256GB iPod touch 7 and two 512GB iPad pros (11" and 13"). Sorry, but 64GB is not enough for me.
  • It'd be good to know why, I presume you prefer to have things stored offline?
  • 64GB is certainly more than enough for me
  • I went through this same calculus prior to getting my 11, and came up with the same conclusion. I really only need 64GB. So I ordered a new iPhone 11 with 128GB. Wait? What? Well, I keep my phone for a long time. It's a bit of future proofing. Also the first step up in RAM is cheaper than any other tier. So I got a 128 just to be sure I won't get filled up with some function in iOS 15 or 16 that I haven't even thought of. But in all seriousness, I had 48GB of stuff on my SE and I don't see that changing a lot.
  • I did the same thing, for pretty much the same reason actually. So far I haven't needed/used more than 64GB on any phone I've had, but when ordering my iPhone 11 Pro, I went ahead and got the 256GB version, for the sake of future-proofing. I plan on keeping this phone for a while and don't want space constraint to become an issue 2 or 3 years down the line. Made that mistake before.
  • 64GB is more than enough for me, but I live in a country where carriers give you a good amount of data for a good price, and most places have strong to decent signal, so most of my stuff is in the cloud