What storage size iPhone 12 Pro should you get?

iPhone cameras
iPhone cameras (Image credit: Rene Ritchie)

The iPhone 12 Pro will be available for the masses starting on October 23, 2020. This is the latest generation for the Pro model, which is the new flagship that Apple offers every year. The new iPhone 12 Pro has a brand new flat-edge design reminiscent of the iPhone 4 and 5 days, 5G, A14 Bionic, upgraded camera systems, and more. If you are looking to pick up an iPhone 12 Pro, they come in three storage capacities: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. So which size is right for you? Let us help you decide!

iPhone 12 Pro storage size: Price per gigabyte

Iphone 12 Pro Colors

Iphone 12 Pro Colors (Image credit: Apple)

For those who want to look at it as getting the most bang for the buck, or just want the best value, then you'll want to start at how much it costs per gigabyte. Let's do a quick breakdown:

  • 128GB - $999 or $7.80 per gigabyte
  • 256GB - $1099 or $4.29 per gigabyte
  • 512GB - $1299 or $2.54 per gigabyte

When you look at those numbers, it's pretty clear that the baseline 128GB version, while an improvement over the previous 64GB, is still the worst value. The 256GB option is a nice middle ground, but if you really want to get the most bang for the buck, then 512GB is the way to go. Plus, with the most storage, you won't have to ever worry about running out of space again.

iPhone 12 Pro storage size: Local storage or cloud storage?

How to back up your iPhone or iPad

How to back up your iPhone or iPad (Image credit: Joseph Keller/iMore)

While the 512GB is the best value, you may not actually need all of that space. Let's take into account whether you you actually require a lot of space, or do you use enough cloud storage services (iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) that you don't rely on local storage?

Apple provides everyone with 5GB of iCloud storage for free. Even though it costs you nothing, it's such a measly and paltry amount that it is actually insignificant for most people. After all, 5GB isn't even going to be enough for an iCloud backup! However, you can buy more iCloud space if you need it, and honestly, we recommend doing so. Plans for iCloud start at $0.99 for 50GB, $2.99 for 200GB, and $9.99 for 2TB. Apple is also going to include iCloud subscriptions in its Apple One bundles coming later this year, so those will be worth looking into if you use Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple TV+, Apple Music, and the new Fitness+ services.

With an active iCloud subscription, you could use iCloud Photo Library to store all of your photos, rather than have local copies on your device. And with Apple Music, you get iCloud Music Library, so you can stream your music anytime, instead of having to sync it all locally. However, be aware that you aren't able to shoot and upload 4K video directly to iCloud, unfortunately, so you will still need to have some local storage on your iPhone 12 Pro for high-resolution video.

  • If you already use cloud storage for pretty much everything, then 128GB should be more than enough for your needs.
  • If you do a lot of traveling or just don't always have a stable data connection, then 256GB is a good medium.
  • If you want everything stored locally, then 512GB is the way to go.

iPhone 12 Pro storage size: Take advantage of powerful cameras

Iphone 12 Pro Taking Picture

Iphone 12 Pro Taking Picture (Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 12 Pro will continue with having the telephoto lens with 4x optical zoom, an Ultra Wide lens with 120-degree field of view, Night Mode portraits with the new LiDAR scanner, dual optical image stabilization on the Wide and Telephoto lenses, and more — and that's just for still photos! When it comes to video recording, you can do HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 60fps, 4K video recording at 24/30/60fps, Slo-mo videos at 1080p at 240fps, Night Mode time-lapse, and more. The front-facing TrueDepth camera also gets some new improvements, like Night Mode and Deep Fusion as well, so your selfies will never look better.

With such powerful camera systems, you're going to get beautiful, crystal-clear shots and super smooth video, but guess what — they're going to take up space! Especially if you want the highest quality video, having a lot of those stored locally will quickly eat up your available storage. If you plan to use your iPhone 12 Pro for a lot of photography and video, then you will want at least 256GB.

  • If you don't plan on shooting a lot of 4K video, but will use the camera occasionally for stills and portraits, then 128GB should be okay, especially if you use iCloud Photo Library.
  • If you plan on taking a lot of photos and some video with the camera, you should consider the 256GB.
  • If you are planning to use your iPhone 12 Pro for a lot of photos and video, then pick up the 512GB.

iPhone 12 Pro storage size: Stay entertained with all media

Disney+ on an iPhone

Disney+ on an iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

With the iPhone 12 Pro, you're getting a gorgeous 6.1-inch OLED screen for the Super Retina XDR display. This is slightly larger than the previous 5.8-inch screen of the iPhone 11 Pro (RIP), which means you can see even more on the screen at once. While I would still prefer to use a larger tablet screen or even a monitor or TV for watching movies and shows, sometimes you'll just need to work with what you have.

The average size of a movie on iTunes is between 1GB to 3GB for a standard file, or 3GB to 6GB for an HD file. Television show episodes are about half the size of movies, but of course, you need more episodes to compensate. Music files clock in at much smaller sizes than movies and shows, but with whole albums, that can also add up pretty quickly.

With music, it's not just iTunes either — we have music streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, but you also have the option of downloading music files for offline listening (great for spotty data areas). And think about video streaming services too, such as Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and more, which also let you download content to enjoy without a data connection. You may stream all the time, but want to download some stuff so that it's always readily available, data connection or not — this adds up, and you'll need enough space for everything you want.

  • If you solely plan to just stream all of your content, then 128GB is plenty.
  • If you are going to download some music or video to enjoy offline, then 256GB should be enough.
  • If you want to download a lot of music or video, or just want to not worry about space when doing so, then get 512GB.

iPhone 12 Pro storage size: Fill it up with apps and games

Apple Arcade Possessions Hero

Apple Arcade Possessions Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

To make the most out of your iPhone 12 Pro, you're going to want to experience all of the cool and fun apps and games on the App Store. With pretty much millions of apps and games available to download, there's a lot to discover and experience! Apps can help you be productive, maintain a healthy lifestyle, entertain or inform you, let you gaze at the world through the eyes of others, and so much more. And if you want fun, then there are a ton of mobile games on the App Store, and Apple has its own gaming service, Apple Arcade. With Apple Arcade, you can enjoy unlimited exclusive and premium games for just $5 a month.

But in order to experience all of these amazing apps and games, you'll need space. While most apps are small in size, the more graphic intense apps and games are bigger, and can clock in at at least 1GB of space, depending on what it is. If you continue to just download apps without checking your storage, you may end up using up a lot of that space. It's just another thing to consider.

  • If you don't play a lot of mobile games and use the stock apps, but may download an app every now and then, 128GB is fine.
  • If you want to download a variety of apps and games, then 256GB is good.
  • If you want to download freely without having a care in the world, then 512GB is for you.

Who should get the 128GB iPhone 12 Pro?

Those who mostly use cloud storage services, stream music and video, aren't planning to shoot a lot of 4K video or photos, don't need a lot of apps, and don't do mobile gaming will be fine with the 128GB iPhone 12 Pro. It is the worst value in terms of price per gigabyte, but sometimes the minimum is all you need.

Who should get the 256GB iPhone 12 Pro?

The 256GB iPhone 12 Pro is the perfect middle ground for most people, from the casuals to the power-users. I personally use the 256GB size and it's been able to handle what I need for years. I can have files stored locally on my device and use cloud storage, stream and download music and video, take a lot of photos with some video, and enjoy plenty of apps and games. You still get some room to spare.

Who should get the 512GB iPhone 12 Pro?

The power-users who want as much free storage as possible, without ever having to worry about running out of room. With 512GB, you can have a lot of files available without a data connection, including music and videos, and you can shoot more 4K videos and amazing photos on a whim. And you can download apps and play the best games available on iPhone. This is also the best value, technically, so why not make the most of it?

Go with what you need

This is the first time that Apple has bumped up the baseline storage capacity of an iPhone to 128GB, and we're glad to see it. This means that those who usually get the base model now have twice the storage to work with at the same price, offering a bit more leeway and flexibility. But those who need more, the 256GB and 512GB options are good values and don't cost that much more, in all honesty. And if you're getting an iPhone 12 Pro, make sure to protect it with some of the best cases so far!

We've outlined it for you here, but ultimately, it comes down to what you need and what you can afford. The iPhone 12 Pro is not cheap, so even the baseline model is high for most people. Still, if you end up realizing that what you bought isn't going to work out, you can return it to Apple within the 14-day return window and try another storage capacity, or even a different device. Just double check Apple's updated return policy FAQ before you do that, because of current store availability.

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.