The top iPhone apps use 4x more space than they did five years ago

iPhone Storage
iPhone Storage (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple unveiled its brand new iOS 15 operating system at WWDC 2021 this week.
  • With each passing year, new technology on iOS means iPhone apps are getting bigger and bigger.
  • Research shows the top 10 apps on iPhone are now (on average) four times larger in size than they were five years ago.

A new report from Sensor Tower into Apple's App Store reveals that the top ten apps on iOS are four times larger in size than they were five years ago, highlighting how apps are growing each year.

Sensor Tower notes how yearly gains in iOS software, most recently with the introduction of iOS 15, lead to new technologies and APIs that take up more space on a user's iPhone. From the report

With the introduction of these new technologies ultimately comes an increase in app sizes, which have grown substantially as the sophistication of Apple's software has ballooned. Case in point, according to Sensor Tower App Intelligence data, the top 10 iPhone apps by downloads in the United States for May were 298 percent or nearly four times larger than five years ago, requiring 2.2 gigabytes of storage, compared to about 550 megabytes at the beginning of 2016.

The study, which looks at the core size of an app (notwithstanding any downloadable content), covered the top 10 iPhone apps in the U.S. for the month of May, they were: YouTube, TikTok, Messenger, Facebook, Zoom, Netflix, Instagram, Gmail, Google Maps, and Amazon.

Sensor Tower's data shows that these apps, on average, have grown in size massively since 2016, and on average now need about 2.2 GB of storage to install, whereas in 2016 they required around 550MB on average. That means the average storage requirement for these apps has from by 298%.

Apple increased the maximum app size to 4GB in 2015. The biggest growth by far comes from Gmail, which now requires 19x more storage space than it did in 2016. By comparison, the next closest apps are TikTok and Instagram which have grown six-fold in size in the last few years.

Messenger and Netflix were the smallest of the bunch, only taking up 116MB and 82MB respectively.

The report shows why its important to consider what storage size iPhone you should get when it comes to newer devices like the iPhone 12. Multiple reports indicate the iPhone 13 could come with 1TB of storage for the first time. The new device is expected to be unveiled later this year with a new 120Hz display and an under-display fingerprint scanner for Touch ID.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9