iPhone Storage Size Guide: How Much Do You REALLY Need?

By Richard Goodwin •  Updated: 09/23/21 •  10 min read

Apple now sells a bunch of different iPhones across a range of price points. But which iPhone has the most storage? In this simple iPhone storage size guide, we’ll show you how much storage each iPhone has and explain how much you’ll likely need on your next iPhone… 

The amount of storage you have on your phone is important, although the requirements for you might be different to someone else you know. If you shoot a lot of video and photos, you’ll want a good amount of storage.

But if all you do is use the iPhone for browsing the web, using apps, and a bit of social media, then you could probably get away with less. As always, it depends on you, the user, how much to go for. In most cases, however, 128GB will be more than enough for the average guy or gal.

Here’s a handy table that shows how much storage each of Apple’s most recent iPhone releases come with – as you can see, the iPhone 13 Pro models are the best by a considerable margin.

iPhone With The Most Storage: A Breakdown By Model & Series

iPhone X64GB / 256GB
iPhone XS 64GB / 256GB/ 512GB
iPhone 11 64GB / 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
iPhone 1264GB / 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
iPhone 13128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
iPhone Storage Capacity By Model

If you’re looking for an iPhone with the most possible storage, you’ll need to go with either Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max. Both of Apple’s 2021 Pro models now support 1TB of storage, the highest amount of storage ever used inside a commercial smartphone.

Prior to the release of the iPhone 13, the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 11 Pro Max had the highest amount of storage you can get in an iPhone, topping out at 512GB.

These models are very pricey though, as you can see here. And for most people, 512GB is not essential. Case in point: I’ve had several 128GB phones over the last few years and I haven’t run out of storage once.

For this reason, I think only a very select few users would ever require more than 128GB. If you like to carry around A LOT of media on your phone, or you shoot and edit a lot of videos, sure, 256GB or even 512GB makes sense.

But that isn’t most people; most people listen to music via the cloud, use iCloud storage for their photos, and don’t run that many apps. My advice? Go with the least amount of storage you can. Apple really dings you for storage, so it makes sense to keep it as low as possible.

Is Apple’s 1TB iPhone 13 Pro Max Worth It?

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iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple introduced a new storage tier on its iPhone 13 Pro models. You can now buy an iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max with 1TB of storage. These phones are VERY pricey, however, with prices topping out at £1449 for the 1TB iPhone 13 Pro, and £1549 for the 1TB iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Why does anyone need 1TB of storage? Apple is pitching the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max at content creators, people that shoot a lot of videos. Apple has even added in things like ProRes to make the editing process even better on its Pro models.

Apple also upped the iPhone 13 Pro’s video-shooting chops; you can film in 4K up to 30fps with the iPhone 13 Pro models and, with ProRes, a higher quality video format, you can then edit in more detail after footage has been filmed.

If you shoot lots of video in 4K, you’ll need plenty of storage. This is why the 1TB iPhone 13 Pro / Pro Max exists. It is designed, predominantly, with videographers in mind. With 1TB of storage and Apple’s new ProRes, making and editing professional-looking videos on iPhone has never been easier.

Most users, however, will be fine with either 128GB or 256GB models. I have a 128GB phone right now and I am no way near using all of its capacity. And I’m a pretty heavy user too.

Is 64GB iPhone OK?

64GB is the least amount of storage you can get on modern iPhones like the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12. And in most cases, 64GB should be enough for the average user.

However, there are a few things you NEED to keep in mind. Firstly, Apple killed 64GB on the iPhone 13 range. All iPhones now ship with 128GB as standard, topping out at 512GB for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini and 1TB for the iPhone 13 Pro models.

The second relates to how many pictures and videos to plan on taking? If you’re a serial snapper, and you run lots of apps and games on your iPhone, you’ll probably need more than 64GB.

The third relates to downloading content and media onto your iPhone. If you like downloading and storing lots of files on your iPhone, from TV shows to films and videos, then 64GB might not be enough for you.

If you fit the above criteria, I’d probably recommend that you go with a 128GB iPhone just to be safe. Apple doesn’t include expandable storage on any of its iPhones, so you have to be careful with how you manage what you’ve got.

OK, so when is a 64GB appropriate? Simple: if you’re a light user, somebody like my mum, then 64GB will be more than enough for you. What do I mean by a “light user”?

A light user is someone that doesn’t take loads of photos and videos and, most of the time, uses their phone ONLY for IM, web browsing, email, and social media. A light user runs limited apps and doesn’t usually have many games stored on their phone.

If you’re a light user, a 64GB iPhone will be fine.

What’s The Best Amount of Storage For Normal Use?

Because Apple’s iPhones do not have any options for expandable storage, I would always advise users to go with a 128GB model. This gives you plenty of room, should you suddenly decide to become a shutterbug or get into mobile gaming.

A 128GB iPhone is more expensive than a 64GB iPhone, but with 128GB you will never have to worry about running out of storage, so you have peace of mind to just use your phone as you want, never having to pay attention to how much or how little you download onto its internal memory.

Again, this is a best-case scenario. If you cannot afford a 128GB model, a 64GB one will suffice. You just need to be aware that, with heavy usage and lots of photos and videos, you will get through the storage very quickly.

And once you’ve used all of your iPhone’s storage, you will then have to pay for additional cloud storage via iCloud to pick up the slack. Hence why I’d recommend you ALWAYS go with at least 128GB of storage on your iPhone if at all possible.

Do I Need A 256GB iPhone?

If you’re what’s considered a “pro user”, meaning someone that runs a ton of applications on their iPhone, uses it as a storage device for work-related files and media, and also uses plenty of applications, then, yes, 256GB could be what you need.

256GB is A LOT of storage, though, and for most people, you won’t get anywhere near this. Case in point: the iMac that I use for work, and haven’t audited in six years, only has 350GB of stuff on its hard drive, and while that is a lot more than 256GB, it just goes to show how far storage can actually go.

Where 256GB starts to make more sense is if you plan on running your iPhone for a LONG TIME. Like six years or more – or until Apple stops supporting it with iOS updates. In this context, you’ll want as much storage as possible. And 256GB should do you just right.

What About A 512GB iPhone?

Beyond 256GB of storage, we have Apple’s top-of-the-range storage option: 512GB which is just over half a terabyte of internal storage. This is a huge amount of memory; it is more than some laptops. But you will pay top dollar for this amount of storage – around $1399/£1399.

Who needs 512GB of storage on their iPhone? Honestly, I’m not too sure. Even forum discussions on the subject seem to point to 512GB being complete overkill, meaning all the storage most people will ever need is 512GB.

I mean, look at it this way: with 256GB of storage, you’ll have enough room for 13,000 photos, 1000 songs, and 1400 videos on your phone. And even with all that, as well as all your apps and games, you’ll still have around 50GB of room left over.

The only upshot of having 512GB of storage is that you’ll have enough room on your iPhone to carry ALL your media with you at all times. That means all your downloaded movies and TV shows, all your ebooks, all of your podcasts, and all of your apps and games. And even then, you’ll still probably have plenty left over.

Most iPhone users seldom break the 256GB threshold, so, yeah… you probably don’t need to fork out for a 512GB iPhone any time soon.

Why Higher Storage iPhones Cost More Money

When it comes to iPhone storage, you’re probably wondering why higher storage sizes are so expensive? Well, there are two reasons for this.

The first reason is that Apple likes making money. This is why it has – and always will – charge a premium for its products. Do you really think the iPhone 12 costs Apple $799 to make? It is actually more like $100. But the RRP has to reflect costs associated with building and distributing the phone and also generate profit.

Apple also likes to ensure it has hefty profit margins on all of its profits, usually around 35%.

The second reason is to do with quality. Apple has to ensure that the memory it uses in its iPhones is flawless. It cannot afford the memory to break or get corrupted; it has to work perfectly for up to a decade. This means it CANNOT use cheap memory. If it did, it would have QC issues and returns.

This is also why Apple doesn’t allow microSD and/or expandable storage on its iPhones. It likes to control the entire experience. If you start expanding the storage on your own, you’re stepping outside of Apple’s control. And Apple does not like this. If you want more storage, you have to pay for it.

It’s as brutally capitalistic as that.

This means when the time comes to upgrade your iPhone, make sure you choose the right storage size for your needs. Again, I’d ALWAYS recommend you go with at least 128GB, although this is now the new base model storage for all iPhones in 2021. Most people will be just fine with 128GB. 1TB is a bit much for the average user, and 256GB and 512GB will feel like you have an infinite amount of storage on your iPhone.

Latest iPhone 13 Deals

THREE£31pm w/ Unlimited Data£29
EE£42pm w/ 40GB Data£30
VODAFONE£31.50pm w/ Unlimited Data£29
O2£48pm w/ 150GB Data£30
Average Price of iPhone 13 at UK’s Biggest Phone Networks

The Phones We Recommend Most Right Now

The Best “All-Rounder” – If you want something simple and reliable that has a great camera, a beautiful design, won’t break the bank, and will run for years and years and years, then you really cannot go wrong with Apple’s iPhone 13.

The Best Android Flagship – When it comes to Android phones, there is but one king in the flagship area of the market. And that phone is the Galaxy S21 Ultra. This phone looks amazing, has a best-in-class camera and display, and its battery life is beyond good. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the phone to get if you want the best possible Android phone.

The Best “Affordable” Option – If you want a cheap, reliable phone that will take great photos, run apps and games, and look great doing it, the Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G is all you need. It has 5G, it has a Super AMOLED display, and it looks like an £800 phone. The Galaxy A52s 5G serves up incredible value for money.

The “Wildcard” Option – Do you want something different? Something unlike anything else? If so, and you have deep enough pockets, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is just about as unique as it gets. This foldable phone is packed to the hilt with next-gen technology and, because it’s foldable, it basically doubles as a tablet too.

And check out How Do I Get More Storage On iPhone?

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Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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