What storage size iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 mini should you get?

Iphone 12 Iphone 11 Iphone Xr Cameras
Iphone 12 Iphone 11 Iphone Xr Cameras (Image credit: Rene Ritchie)

This year, Apple is releasing four different iPhone 12 models: iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro will be available on October 23, while the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available on November 13, with pre-orders starting November 6. If you're thinking about picking up the regular iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 mini, then you may be struggling with how much storage capacity you need. Fortunately, we're here to help break it down for you.

iPhone 12 storage size: Price per gigabyte

From a money perspective, you may want to consider which size option gets you the biggest bang for your buck. To go about that, you need to see how much it costs per gigabyte, basically. Both the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 start at 64GB and go up to 256GB.

For the iPhone 12 mini

  • 64GB - $699 or $10.92 per gigabyte
  • 128GB - $749 or $5.85 per gigabyte
  • 256GB - $849 or $3.32 per gigabyte

For the iPhone 12

  • 64GB - $799 or $12.48 per gigabyte
  • 128GB - $849 or $6.63 per gigabyte
  • 256GB - $949 or $3.71 per gigabyte

When you break it down to price per gigabyte, the 256GB option for both the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 offer the most bang for your buck. However, 256GB can be considered too much for some, so the 128GB is a nice middle ground. But if you just want to get the most affordable iPhone 12 mini or iPhone 12, then the 64GB is the lowest price, but not the best value.

iPhone 12 storage size: Local storage or cloud storage?

Forget your password for iCloud, iTunes, or the App Store? Here's how to reset your Apple ID

Forget your password for iCloud, iTunes, or the App Store? Here's how to reset your Apple ID (Image credit: Joseph Keller/iMore)

Since both the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 still start at 64GB (the Pro models start at 128GB), it's important to ask yourself if you are going to be relying on local storage for files and media, or can you use cloud storage syncing services?

Apple offers 5GB of iCloud storage for free for every iPhone user, but let's face it — that is a paltry amount and really won't hold much before you fill it up. This is especially true if you want to use iCloud backups for your devices. But you can bump up that iCloud storage space with plans that start at $0.99 for 50GB, $2.99 for 200GB, and $9.99 for 2TB. iCloud storage will also be a part of the upcoming Apple One bundles, so if you use a few of Apple's services already (Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, Apple News+, and the new Fitness+), then these are a great value.

As long as your iCloud storage subscription is active, you'll be able to use things like iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Music Library. With these, you can have your photos and video stored in the cloud, accessible from anywhere, and you can stream your music instead of requiring them to be local on your iPhone. You can even use iCloud Drive to store files and documents and access them anywhere.

There are also third-party cloud storage options like Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and more, if you want something other than iCloud.

  • If you already use a lot of cloud storage and streaming services, then 64GB should be enough.
  • If you often travel or just don't always have a reliable data connection, then 128GB provides plenty of space for local storage.
  • If you prefer to have everything available offline or just on your iPhone, then go with 256GB.

iPhone 12 storage size: Make use of the great cameras

Iphone 12 Camera

Iphone 12 Camera (Image credit: Apple)

Even though the iPhone 12 Pro series will have bigger sensors and telephoto lens, the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 still have a fantastic camera system. After all, you are still going to have the dual 12MP Wide and Ultra Wide cameras, optical image stabilization, 2x optical zoom out and 5x digital zoom. And yes, the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 can still record 4K video up to 60fps, and do HDR Dolby Vision recording up to 30fps.

So while the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 may not not have the telephoto camera and all that extra stuff, you're still going to get some great shots with the camera. And if you plan on shooting 4K video, they'll look beautiful and stunning, but guess what? 4K video files can take up quite a bit of space!

  • If you don't plan to take a lot of 4K videos but just need to shoot some photos, then 64GB should be fine.
  • If you plan to shoot some 4K video and take a good amount of photos, then 128GB is what you should consider.
  • For those who are going to shoot a lot of 4K video and photos, then you should get 256GB.

iPhone 12 storage size: Entertain yourself with media

Disney+ on iPhone 11 Pro

Disney+ on iPhone 11 Pro (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

The iPhone 12 mini may have the smallest screen size right now at 5.4-inches, but it's still a great device to watch videos while in bed. And the iPhone 12 has a bigger screen at 6.1-inches, so it's great for consuming video too. Both can also play other audio files, such as music, podcasts, audiobooks, and more. If you plan to consume a lot of media, you should think about the storage size on your future device.

A typical movie in iTunes is between 1GB-3GB for standard definition, and can be anywhere from 3GB-6GB for HD. Television episodes are about half that, but require more episodes to compensate. Individual song files are only a fraction of that, but when you take into account multiple albums, they will add up quickly.

But in today's world, it's not just about buying these forms of media from iTunes. There are multiple streaming services, like Apple Music and Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more. All of these also give users the option to download audio and video files locally so that they can be played even without an Internet connection. If you want to download stuff so that it's always available, and not just when you have a good data connection, then you'll need to have space to do so first.

  • If you always stream content and don't plan on downloading any to your device, 64GB is good enough.
  • If you want to have some video and audio files downloaded, then you should think about 128GB.
  • If you think you will be constantly downloading multimedia files to your device (to watch on flights, for example), then 256GB is the only way to go.

iPhone 12 storage size: Apps and games

App Store on iPhone

App Store on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

The App Store debuted in 2008, and since then, there are millions of apps and games available to download. Apps can help you become more productive, entertain you, maintain healthy habits, communicate with others, make your photos and video better, and so much more. Games are just downright fun and entertaining, and there are so many offerings available now on Apple Arcade. With Apple Arcade, you get unlimited access to dozens of premium and exclusive games for just $5 a month or $50 a year, and a subscription can be shared among six other people with Family Sharing.

But if you want to be able to download all of these apps and games, you have to have enough free space. Most apps are not that big in size, but the more graphically intense and complex games can require 1GB of space sometimes, so you need to keep that in mind. You should always have some space for apps and games if need be, but it is always possible to run out of space if you have a smaller capacity and don't manage it often.

  • If you tend to stick with stock apps and don't need a lot of apps or games, then 64GB should be okay.
  • If you want to download some apps and get some mobile gaming in, then consider a 128GB device.
  • If you love to try out new apps and mobile games, then get 256GB.

Who should get the 64GB iPhone 12 mini or iPhone 12?

Those who mostly just store their files and documents in the cloud, stream content, take some photos and not shoot a lot of 4K video, and don't want or need a lot of third-party apps and games should be okay with 64GB. Just understand that you are getting the worst value if you look at the price per gigabyte.

Who should get the 128GB iPhone 12 mini or iPhone 12?

People who want a nice middle ground should get the 128GB. With 128GB, you can do a mix of having local and cloud storage for files and documents, media, photos and video, as well as download apps and games without worry.

Who should get the 256GB iPhone 12 mini or iPhone 12?

If you want to be able to download files, documents, multimedia, apps, games, and shoot a good amount of 4K video and take a lot of photos, then you should get 256GB.

Get what you need

While we break it down for you, when it comes to iPhone 12 storage size, you really should go with what you need and what you can afford. Everyone's budget is different, and so go with what works best for you. But if money isn't an issue, then think about what you're going to be using your iPhone 12 for. And don't forget to get a nice case for your iPhone 12 mini or iPhone 12!

We hope this breakdown helps you with picking out the storage size for your next iPhone 12 mini or iPhone 12. If you get one and aren't satisfied with the storage space, you can also return it within Apple's 14-day return window. Just make sure to check Apple Store availability beforehand.

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed. When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.