Apple is right, 16 GB is more than enough space on your phone

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How much space do you really need on your phone? Is it 128 GB, 64 GB, or 32 GB or simply 16 GB?


I say you just need 16 GB. (Don’t make noise just yet, hear me out) And I’m not alone in this way of thinking. Apple thinks that way too. So does HTC, and a lot of mobile phone manufacturers. Otherwise, how do you explain why they keep churning out, with every new phone release, a 16 GB memory variant of their flagship.

Apple did it again on Monday 21 March 2016 with the announcement of the new iPhone SE. At this point, you must be lashing out in defence of more memory on a phone because I know you want all those gigabytes and if you had things your way you’d be owning a phone with terabytes of memory.


But here’s a line of thought that may be worth your time and effort. Stop and pause to think about why you really need a lot of memory on a phone. Why do you really need a lot of memory on your phone?

Let me help you out on this. Let me start by listing the major areas you need phone memory for.

  1. Apps & Games
  2. Music & Videos
  3. Documents & Data

Let me start with Apps.

Exactly how many apps do you need on a phone? Do you need or use 100 apps? 50? 20? 10? Most people use their phones for communication and social media, productivity, entertainment and media (music, video, gaming).

But how many communication & social media apps can one have? Let’s count. Phone app, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, SnapChat. Add 3 or 5 more for those who use WeChat, BBM or Tumblr. That makes a total of 13 apps at most in the communication and social media category.

Then we go to the productivity apps. So you have a Notes app, Alarm, Evernote, Google Keep, Finance Tracker, Project Manager, Office mobile, etc. This category would have just a little over 10 apps

Next up are entertainment apps. The major apps in this category are a music player, a video player, camera, gallery, and games. I’ll say 5 games are enough on your phone at any one given time. You never play 10 or more games anyway. So this category would have 10 apps.

So far our total number of apps comes to 33 apps. I’ll be generous enough to make a round figure of 40 apps and you can add 7 more. Now let’s work with the numbers. Let’s assume every app is 100 MB big. That means you need 40*100 = 4,000 MB. That’s about 4 GB of memory. Cool.

Now let’s hit number 2: Music and Videos, the controversial one.

Exactly how many music files and videos do you need to carry around on your phone? I like to use a very simple and practical solution and the following philosophy.

On a single day, between my normal routine of work, commute, home, lunch breaks and so forth, I never listen to more than 1 hour of music on my phone. Some of you may listen to more than 1 hour, but that just means your day is not as busy or perhaps it’s just not a productive day at work, home, or school.

With that said, I find it very practical to ONLY add to the phone, (from my entire music collection), a top 200 songs list. In my opinion, I can never listen to all 200 songs in a day or a week, perhaps even for a month. So only 200 of my favorite songs should do the trick. That’s roughly 2 GB of music.

I apply the same logic to my videos. I don’t really watch movies on a phone because the battery wouldn’t help me watch 2 movies entirely in one sitting. I mostly keep short music videos and I have a top 20 list for that.

That comes to about 2 GB also.

Then next, there are the pictures I take with my phone. At any given time I keep about 200 pictures and maybe 5 videos taken with my camera. Anything older than a year I backup to the usual cloud services (Dropbox, Google drive, iCloud, etc). That’s another 1GB there.

Then lastly (number 3, Documents & data ) we have those who insist on carrying around documents, books, files etc on their phones. I’ll just generously give that bunch 1gb of memory for that.

In total, as a basic and yet lacking nothing user, I use 4 GB (apps) + 2 GB (music) + 2 GB (videos) + 1 GB (camera photos and videos) + 1 GB (documents, books, data). The sum total comes up to 10 GB of memory in total.

Yes, 10GB of memory for all that. Even if we give you 3 more GB of free usage and for miscellaneous usage that total would still come short of 16GB. So yes, it is really practical to have a phone with 16 GB memory that does everything you want.

If you need more space I know what you’re likely doing. You may be carrying tonnes of music, videos, and games which you never really need or listen to or watch or play. Like seriously, why carry around 5,000 songs on your phone? Or 500 videos? Or have 50 games?

My opinion is that you must use your phone for utilitarian purposes and use only stuff you really need. That way you will actually find that you don’t really need to be carrying around more than 16 GB of your stuff on a phone that you use here and there. Rather keep all your collections on a drive or PC and then usually and frequently update your most used stuff to the phone.

So yes, it makes sense that Apple and HTC make 16 GB every year and you only need 16 GB of memory on a phone.

What are your thoughts? Is 16 GB of memory on your phone enough or too little?

This article was written by James Ritala, a Zimbabwean software developer based in South Africa with a passion for gadgets, apps and all things tech.

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54 thoughts on “Apple is right, 16 GB is more than enough space on your phone

  1. Ok – so a few points on how I use my phone and why 16Gb will never be enough for me.

    1. I have all my apps automatically set to download media – Whatsapp in a month can easily churn through 1Gb of data and photo’s
    2. I use google drive (2 Accounts Business and Personal) – 7Gb online but each time i open a file it goes into the cache or i save a local copy
    3. Dropbox was my preferred photo backup option – All my images are 5Mp or more
    4. Trying out one drive because I use Microsoft Lens to scan documents on my phone and then edit them in the office suite
    5. My music is based on mood so I want to sync the whole library. Sometimes I hear something on my laptop and delete it so I immediately want that change synced to the phone when I next plug in. I am not going to sync different playlists everyday
    6. APK files are getting huge – My key apps here are Chrome, Facebook, Linked IN, Twitter, Facebook lite(when data is low lol), Messenger, Hangouts, Godaddy Domain Admin, Google Admin, Adsense, Two bank apps for online banking, Hotel Loyalty App, Airline loyalty App, Grocery App, Mobile network App, A bible, Cyberghost VPN (everyone needs this 😉 ) Train Schedule App, VUZE torrent app VLC, Stratia reader for opening seecure docs, Pricecheck for online shopping, speedtest is a must have, track ID, Sony Lifelog, Sony Smartwatch companion app, Microsoft Office, the rest of the google suite (docs etc), News and Weather, Barcode Scanner, 2 Factor Authentication app, Foreign Exchange rate app…
    Thesee are apps that I use once a week at least.
    7. I would like a season of apps with me on the go at any time easy enough to get to 3Gb or less
    8. All my apps that are data aware need to cache data somewhere.

    If I try I can get it down to 16 but its a squeeze. 25Gb of accessible space is what I would personally be comfortable. the remaining 7 can go to the OS.

  2. Don’t forget effective space is only 10.9GB the rest is used by the IOS. I think Apple thinks the world is flat… i.e. everyone has access to cheap and fast internet access. We cannot effectively use iCloud to store photos and music. We can’t afford the $10/month iTunes music subscription. We have no option but to store our favorite memories and our music on the phone.. with that in mind.. 10.9GB is just not enough. I have iPhone6 16GB, its a nightmare, a mistake I will not repeat. I also have 64GB iPad.. I have no such issues!!!

  3. WRONG WRONG WRONG ! For starters you never get to use the full amount of memory some is taken by the phone OS android /iPhone . What is written on the box is not what you get inside It’s not a can of coke where you will get exactly 300ml inside. This just a fact of life accept it. Think of phone memory as an OPTIONAL EXTRA. The base model 16GB model performs exactly the same nd has the same functions as the 32 GB or the 64GB model the other two just cost more. It’s just a way making more money from the same product. Car manufacturers eg Mercedes-Benz, BMW do this all the time sell a base model nd then offer all sorts expensive optional extras which if you pick them all can double the cost of the car. Resulting in them making more PROFIT. It’s all about the money ! . If Apple thought they could get away with it they would sell a 8GB iPhone nd tell people that they really didn’t need more memory ?.

  4. Just to pour cold water on your head, why is Apple about to start selling 64gb phone is 16gig is enough:

    The iPhone SE will become available for UK pre-order on 24 March and go on sale on 31 March. UK prices start at £359 for the 16GB; there is also a 64GB model, which costs £439, but no 128GB offering. The iPhone SE, like the iPhone 6s handsets, will be available in silver, gold, Space Grey and Rose Gold.

  5. And I say don’t drink the Apple Kool~Aid. I have 32gb and they are full all the time. Check this out right my music FLAC right there you are looking at 25mb per track ain’t no way 16GB will be any good. Video files are now huge 1080p movies shit…..hell go on with your 16gb

  6. 200 songs??? Are you joking? I have thousands and want more. I want every song I have ever purchased with me at all times. Next up Pictures, my pics get backed up to the cloud but I want them on my phone too. My phone has hundreds of pictures on it at all times. 16 gigs is maybe enough back in 2010 but not in 2016. My phone is basically my mobile hard drive and I want all the space I can get.

  7. i agree with most of y’all why limit people. for instance someone who makes beats and sing may need a mobile studio at all times. and there phone is a solution. the phone have become more just a communication tool. so one requirement of space depends on what they use it for.

  8. You should also consider that these new iphones take high quality images and videos. Let me break it down to this, a one minute 4K video takes up 375-400mb of storage. Say you take a 10min 4K video that’s already 4gig of space gone. So it really just depends on what you use it for but honestly a 16gig iphone is a nightmare.

  9. That article shows a myopic (short-sighted) view. In this age of big data you talk about 16 GB being enough? If we had reliable and affordable internet connection you could argue that I can store some of the data in the cloud ; but not in Zim where 200MB costs $10 which you can use to buy 4GB in war torn countries like Afghanistan.

    I store photos, music, documents and I can work on my mobile… and you tell me 16GB is enough?

    After all apple products like iPhones are not meant for IT pros that’s why 16GB may be OK. But for IT pros and software developers as you claim to be, I am shocked to say the least and your article is a waste of time and space!

  10. Nothing more than an exercise in mboro waving amongst a bunch of juveniles this talk of how much storage memory on phone is too much or too little ecksy!

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