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Turns out 64GB in an iPhone probably is enough after all

iPhone Storage
iPhone Storage (Image credit: iMore)

Three weeks ago I put my head into the lion's mouth by asking a simple question: "Is 64GB in an iPhone enough?" I thought it was, and I set about explaining why. There was also a poll to ask the opinions of everyone reading. We'll get to that in a moment.

I started that original post out with a sentence explaining that I'd been contemplating something along those lines for a while. The reason for my trepidation was simple. The internet seems to be full of people – many of them colleagues and contemporaries – who are absolutely convinced that in 2019 nobody should be selling a phone with less than 128GB of storage in it.

Readers, viewers, and listeners are told that unless a phone has globs of storage, it's a rip-off. And I expected most of them to be of the same opinion. I expected a tongue – or keyboard – lashing. But it never came. And I'm both grateful and surprised. I'm yet to decide which of those came first.

Which brings us neatly onto the poll results from three weeks ago. All I asked was "Is 64GB enough for you?" with three options for people to click. The results weren't what I expected.

64GB poll results

64GB poll results (Image credit: iMore)

At the time of writing, almost 1,000 people have voted with a resounding 59% saying that they use an iPhone with 64GB of storage and that it's plenty for their needs. 33% said that they couldn't live with fewer than 128GB, but the more interesting number is 8%. That's the number of people with 64GB who find that they need more space to play with.

What this tells us is that those who choose a 64GB iPhone are generally fine with that. Very few find that they need to opt for more storage when upgrade time rolls around. And that's perhaps one of the reasons that Apple continues to offer 64GB as the lowest capacity iPhone.

I'm sure Apple has statistics on which capacities people are using and how full they are. It will no doubt be making storage decisions based on that information and if Apple's numbers are even close to ours it makes tones of sense to keep 64GB around. At least for now. Especially with all of the storage-saving features I wrote about earlier this month.

But having said all that, I won't be complaining if Apple can sell me a 128GB iPhone 12 Pro at the same price as this year's 64GB model!

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

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.

39 Comments
  • Disagree - 128 would be absolute minimum - 256 much better
  • I'm guessing you prefer to store things offline?
  • There is seemingly a data breach of some kind all of the time.
  • Not really heard of any with Apple or Google. Dropbox had a data breach in 2012 but hasn't had one since then, not all services have data breaches, or some have one and then don't have one again after upgrading security.
  • That, or if you don't want to trust Apple's AI to know which photos to keep stored on your phone.
  • Then you can store it in Google, or the other plethora of cloud services
  • Or not. Local storage please.
  • Each to their own, but bobbob1016's problem was with not trusting Apple. The main reason for needing more than 64GB is if you require offline storage, otherwise 64GB is fine
  • It's like when carriers used to tell us that most people don't use more than 5GB of data each month, which was why they felt unlimited data plan wasn't necessary. People find a way to adapt that's all. I have an uncle who uses whatsapp and all media sent to him privately or from a group is saved to his phone's gallery. He's not a techie. A 64GB iPhone wasn't enough for him. So, I got him a 256GB OnePlus 7Pro. I started to get him a phone that also has an SD card slot, but I figured I see how he uses this one first. Point is, some older folks won't have the time or know how to "manage" their storage. My wife who isn't old per se never deletes anything so I know 64GB won't be enough for her.
  • If he's not a techie, then disable WhatsApp saving images to his phone. Problem solved, and you don't have to pay for extra storage. Other apps have modes for auto-deletion after so many days. Your logic is like saying that someone shouldn't connect to the internet because a non-techie doesn't know how to update their phone… really you just don't want to help your family
  • I agree 64 is likely going to be enough for a lot of people. I got 128, because it was cheap insurance for future proofing, but I doubt I will need that much. We're about to order an 11 for my wife. I'll likely get her one with 64, only because I take a LOT more pictures than she does.
  • I take a lot of pictures but I've got them in the cloud
  • We just ordered my wife's new iPhone 11. I suggested 64. She went with 128.
  • 64gb is enough for me but I think the problem is, for how much you’re paying for an Apple flagship, 128gb should be the minimum. But I would like to note that 64 is enough for me because I keep my storage locally on my computer and in the cloud on my phone
  • The issue there is not that Apple should be offering 128GB is a minimum, but that they charge too much for what they offer. But this is Apple, it's been a problem since the beginning of time and it's not going to change, Apple tax is here to stay
  • I think if you are only planning to keep the phone a year then if 64 works for you now then you can get another 64. If you are planning to keep it for say 3-4 Years, then I would recommend upgrading to the 128gb for future proofing, especially since it only costs $50 more. I say this because in general storage usage goes up with time. What's enough now might not be enough 3-4 years from now.
  • That's precisely the reason I went with 128. I'm only using about 40 right now, and I could likely clear at least 10 of that with no problem. But who knows what new feature/app/function will come in 2023, 24, 25 that will use the space.
  • I do find 64GB (not 64Gb or 64gb) sufficient in a smartphone. I had a 32GB tablet in 2015 -- Android -- and it was crowded. Got a 64GB phone that same year and never ran full. Of course, if you're on an iPhone and shooting lots of photos or, worse yet, video, it's easy enough to need more. Particularly since you can't just add an SD card like any civilized phone or actual camera. My 2015 phone died last month and was replaced with a 2019 phone with 256GB flash, 8GB RAM. More than I needed but hey, for $450, not worth any concern. No immediate need for that 128GB SD card from the old phone...
  • Many Android phones don't have an SD card slot now, the fact of the matter is that SD cards are slow, and they're a bottleneck on modern phones. I shoot a lot of pictures but 64GB is fine for me as they're stored in the cloud
  • That has become the problem, your choice of “cloud” and your “connection” has become the replacement for system storage instad of the backup option.
  • You can still store backups or data on an external drive or another computer
  • Just to be clear, you're talking about a phone
    I don't have an iPhone.
    I have an iPad; currently using just over 70GB
  • The iPhone and iPad function the same, outside of the iPad having more powerful hardware and support for the Pencil.
  • That’s patently false for user level operations, nearly identical OS sure and the same components, but the extra screen real estate plus a file manager dramatically alters what both can/will do.
  • The iPhone has a file manager as well, it just doesn't have a USB-C port to facilitate connecting external storage devices, but I think you can still do it with the lightning port and a dongle, and the next iPhone will most likely have a USB-C port. The screen real estate is the main benefit of the iPad, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're going to use up more storage
  • Everything I have is 256GB minimum. My iPad Pro is 512GB. I agree that for most people today 64 is enough, when you have free cloud storage and free music streaming. But then, I am not "most people".
  • I can say that 64GB is enough for almost anyone. I can also say as a crew chief with a million documents and PDFs exceeding 36GB and the fact I also use my iPhone/iPad for mobile entertainment and I don’t play basic mobile games but much larger and more complex online, shooter, and rpgs my average storage use is nearly 70GB. Bear in mind exceeding more than 60% causes massively reduced storage speed and overall slower system behavior the further you get from the golden 50% usage rule . I can only predict that my needs will only grow. Considering how cheap EEMC storage is getting due to its process production at the current node size hitting 3 years old at this point, it’s fully matured with little to no improvements to be made, it really doesn’t make sense to have devices with less than 64GB (looking at you 7th gen iPad) was it really worth buying it for a flat 299.99 ($300 let’s stop with the pricing bs) instead of 329.99. IMHO absolutely not, I really feel they are cheating the consumer out of that option.
  • I think the author failed to take this question far enough.
    I had an 8+ 128gb. I currently have an XS Max 64gb. A result of having the lower storage, I have had to become creative with using alternative storage; cloud storage. This causes me to account for and ensure I always have connectivity and data capacity to handle it with the associated cost. This had made my use more complex and interaction with my other devices and other operating systems. So yes, 64gb may be enough. But what has the user had to do to ensure that 64gb is enough for iPhone use?
  • I think 128GB should be base storage size. Files are larger, apps are larger, and the competition, like Samsung, among others, start at 256GB now for flagships. Most won't use that, but I would rather have that, than not.
  • Only certain types of files are larger, such as images/videos where the quality increases with improved cameras and higher quality content. I've got around 70-80 apps on my phone, and with other content on my phone as well as them I'm only around half way to filling up the 64GB, so they're not as large as you think unless they're all 3D/large games. I think 64GB is perfectly fine as a base size, the majority of iPhone users that are using cloud services are unlikely to fill it up
  • See, if there were SD options, I would agree with you. But I adamantly do not.
    " I think 64GB is perfectly fine as a base size..."
    Why would you care if it came with a terabyte?
  • There will never be SD options because SD cards are very slow compared to the phone's storage and will bottleneck the phone. I don't really care what size it comes with as long as it doesn't increase the price
  • Couldn't agree more. Especially at premium prices.
  • See the problem here is not the 64GB base size but the prices. Apple always add an extra charge on, call it Apple tax or whatever you will. If Apple started at 128GB it would also start at the 128GB price as well, which I wouldn't want.
  • Well for me I haven't really had to do anything. My iPhone automatically offloads images/videos into iCloud, and I watch films through Netflix and stream music through Spotify. In the UK I have data pretty much anywhere I go, so connectivity isn't an issue but obviously that doesn't apply for everyone. In terms of interaction with other devices, I can access all my photos through the iCloud site, and Spotify/Netflix is available on every other device I use, so there's no complications. I think the point you're making is more to do with connectivity/data plans, which vary from country to country. America seems to have the biggest problem with not offering enough data on data plans, most European countries will give you more than enough data for dealing with cloud services for a reasonable price, plus the EU offers free roaming inside the EU
  • How about in a ship or on a plane or in the middle of nowhere. You know, where you might really need your whole world offline gps maps. It's a spec step backward, just not for most people. But, hey, whatever is best for Apple right?
  • I have been on holiday to places where I don't get free roaming (e.g. America), in which case I downloaded an offline map beforehand. I only need the map for the location I'm visiting, and after I come back I delete the saved map, so I don't end up using much more storage. This isn't really about what's best for Apple, Apple are trying to push cloud services, and by doing that, forcing mobile operators to provide better data plans and coverage which is better for consumers
  • thaks admin for that. that is very great work and use full for users
  • These days photos & videos go in the cloud, & I stream music, so my storage needs have decreased dramatically. My 64 GB iPhone is half full, and my iPad only has 55GB used (mostly downloaded playlists from Spotify). Even my Mac has space to spare...