What iPhone 7 storage size should you get: 32GB vs. 128GB vs. 256GB?

Apple Trade-Up program: Everything you need to know!
Apple Trade-Up program: Everything you need to know!

If all you do is text, stream, and access web portals, you'll probably be able to live on 32GB. If you shoot 4K video, download all your media, and want tons of apps, 256GB might be the only option. If you do a lot of different things or are anywhere in the middle, choosing which iPhone 7 storage size to get can be one of the hardest decisions you make. Here's what you need to consider!

Price per gigabyte breakdowns

Many products are segmented from entry level to standard to premium. Appliances, gadgets, even food brands. Entry level gets you in the door, standard is what most people end up buying, and premium is for those who want or need more. Apple could segment iPhones based on processor speed or color but the company prefers storage size. It's easy for everyone to understand: More money buys you more storage.

This year Apple's doubled all their storage tiers, so here's the new break down:

iPhone 7, full price:

  • 32GB: $649 or $21.31 per GB
  • 128GB: $749 or $5.85 per GB
  • 256GB: $849 or $3.32 per GB

iPhone 7 Plus, full price:

  • 32GB: $769 or $24.03 per GB
  • 128GB: $869 or $6.79 per GB
  • 256GB: $969 or $3.78 per GB

So the lowest priced iPhones are just that, but the premium models give you the most gigabyte bang for your buck.

  • If you can't afford anything more, 32GB gets you in the door.
  • If you want the most bang for your buck, 256GB or 128 GB is a better value.

Local vs. Cloud storage

Apple's iCloud gives you free, unlimited storage for all your iTunes stuff. That includes iBooks, music, movies, TV shows, and apps. You also get 5GB of additional storage for backups, data, and photos. You can purchase more iCloud storage if you need it, and Apple has just dropped expanded their paid tiers:

  • 5 GB - Free
  • 50 GB - $0.99/month
  • 200 GB - $2.99/month
  • 1TB - $9.99/month
  • 2TB - $19.99/month

iCloud integrates with iOS and macOS and otherwise keeps all your stuff connected and collected. Thanks to some really intelligent nearline management, iCloud can help make sure you're recent and frequently accessed content is instantly available, and your older and infrequently accessed content is only a tap and a download away when you need it.

If you prefer other solutions, there's also built-in storage provider support for Dropbox, One Drive, Google Drive, and more.

The Cloud still can't take the place of lots of on-device storage — you can't shoot 4K video straight to the cloud, for example — but it can help you get the most of what you have.

  • If you use a lot of cloud services you may be able to eek the most out of 32GB.
  • If you don't use or like the cloud, you'll want to stick with 128GB or 256GB.

Photos and videos

The current iPhone lineup includes 12mp cameras that can shoot 4K video. That means you can eat through a ton of local storage, very quickly. iCloud Photo Library can help nearline a lot of that for you, but then you have to pay for iCloud Photo Library. Even then, depending how much you capture and how often, it still might not be ideal.

  • If you hardly ever shoot photos or video, 32GB may do you.
  • If you shoot a ton of photos, and especially video, you'll want to consider 128GB or 256GB.


iTunes movies can be 1 to 3 GB in size for standard definition. If you prefer watching HD, they can easily eat up 3 to 6GB of storage. TV shows can be a quarter to half the size of movies, but more than make up for it by the number of episodes typically available. Music files are generally quite small but can add up as well, especially if you have lots and lots of albums you want to keep with you everywhere.

Streaming services like Apple Music, Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Spotify, etc. use some storage for local cache but nothing piles up on your iPhone long term.

  • If you stream almost everything, you might be able to get away with 32GB.
  • If you prefer to download your movies, TV Shows, or music, you'll need 128GB or 256GB.

Apps and Games

Thanks to new technologies like app thinning — asset slicing, on demand resources, and bitcode — Apple and developers can do a lot to keep their apps and games slim and trim. Effectively that means not downloading anything they don't need to download onto your iPhone, unless and until they need to download it.

Still, not every developer is using app thinning yet, and not every app lends itself to significant thinning. So, if you download a ton of games or apps with a lot of graphics and video — hello Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram! — you can still use up a lot of storage.

  • If you keep your iPhone light on apps and games, you might be able to get away with 32GB.
  • If you want to have tons of apps and games on your iPhone all the time, you'll need 64 GB or 128 GB of storage.

Who should get the 32GB iPhone 7?

If you really only want an iPhone for streaming, if you live on the cloud, if you only do light social and gaming, if you have an iPad or computer that stores your long-term data and collections, and you don't intend to keep a ton of content on your phone, then you'll be okay with 32GB.

Who should get 128GB iPhone 7?

For most people, 128 GB will be plenty of space. It can store a ton of songs, lots of apps, a plethora of photos and video, and still feel like you can breathe. Thanks to iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Music Library, and App Thinning, you'll get more out of it than ever before.

If you're planning to use your iPhone 7 the way it was intended to be used, 128GB iPhone 7will serve you well.

Who should get 256 iPhone 7?

If you really do want your iPhone to do everything, all of the time, and never (or rarely) have to worry about running out of space or going to the cloud, if you want to shoot a ton of 12 mp photos and 4K video without having to offload it, or if you simply want to make sure you're future proofed well into the future, then you've probably already decided on the 256GB iPhone 7, haven't you?

Still undecided?

If you're still not sure about 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB, jump into our iPhone forums and the best community in mobile will happily help you out!

Also, remember that if most places will allow you to exchange an iPhone if you get one that doesn't properly fit your needs. So, make sure you put your new iPhone through its paces as soon as you get it. Load up all the apps and games you want with you, load up your movies and TV shows, go out and take some photos and shoot some video. Use it like you're going to be using it.

If it feels like you got too much storage, say 128 GB, and you haven't even gone past 8 GB, or if you got too little, say you're already at 120GB GB of 128GB, then take it back and exchange it for one that better suits your needs.

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.