Saving money is always a good thing. Swappa was built on this notion, and we’re constantly working to get you the best deals on used iPhones. Another common way buyers try to save money is by purchasing the smallest storage option.
Although skimping on storage makes sense for a lot of buyers, it isn’t always the best solution for everyone. Sometimes, it pays to spend a little more upfront — especially if you take a lot of photos or videos. Keep reading as we help you figure out how much storage space you actually need on your iPhone and how you can upgrade your iPhone storage for less.
Apple iPhone storage options
Every Apple iPhone is available in a few storage sizes. As user needs have gradually increased over time, so too have Apple’s storage options. This is with good reason, as Apple typically upgrades the camera and processor every generation. This leads to bigger games and apps, and higher resolution photos and videos.
As recently as 2015, you could get an iPhone 6S with a paltry 16GB of storage. While this was standard five years ago, many quickly found 16GB to be a bit limiting when coupled with the iPhone’s lack of expandable storage. Apple doubled this on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, bringing us up to 32GB of base storage — and yet again just a year later with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, which started at 64GB. This is where the base model stayed until 2020, when Apple made 128GB the default on the high-end iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. However, the mainstream iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini stayed at 64GB in their base configurations.
How much memory do I need on my iPhone?
Now that we know the backstory, let’s figure out just how much storage you actually need on your next iPhone. We’ll start with the Cliff’s Notes by saying that 128GB is a good middle-ground for the average person. It gives you ample storage capacity for thousands of high-resolution images and the occasional 4K video — while still leaving enough room for all your favorite apps and even a few 3D games.
But what if you’re not the typical user — how do you figure out how much storage space to buy? It’ll basically come down to two factors: how you use your phone, and whether you’re willing to rely on the cloud for your content and backup needs.
iPhone Photo and Video File Size
According to Flickr, the Apple iPhone has been the world’s most popular camera since 2017. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the iPhone offers seriously impressive video and image quality — and the best camera is the one you have with you.
Apple iPhone photo file sizes haven’t changed much since the iPhone 7. On average, you can expect full-resolution JPG images to come in at around 2MB to 4MB per picture. If you prefer to capture the RAW sensor output in DNG format, this jumps a bit to about 15MB per image. Finally, if you have an iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max and you want to use Apple’s new ProRAW mode, you’re looking at about 25MB per image.
If you’ve got the latest iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max, and you’re shooting in ProRAW mode, you can only fit about 40 images per gigabyte. But if you’re using an older iPhone or are content with full-resolution JPGs instead, you can expect to fit about 250 to 500 photos per gigabyte.
Apple iPhone video file sizes are a whole different ballgame. Apple has offered 4K video recording on every iPhone starting with the iPhone 6S. As you would expect, 4K video is no joke. We’re talking about 350MB per minute — or only about three minutes per gigabyte of storage. Starting with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, Apple increased the maximum frame rate to 4K at 60fps. This increased file sizes to about 400MB per minute (2.5 minutes per gigabyte). Finally, the iPhone 12 Pro can now shoot 4K video with Dolby Vision HDR at up to 60fps — but thanks to improved video encoding algorithms, file sizes haven’t increased much on the iPhone 12.
Apple iCloud and other cloud storage providers can make your life a little easier if you constantly find your internal storage filled with photos. However, as we mentioned above, video content is simply huge. So unless you’re on a paid cloud storage plan and you have truly unlimited mobile internet access, we recommend spending your money on more internal storage instead.
iPhone Apps and Games
Apple iPhone apps have gradually gotten a little bigger over the last few years. Increased processing power means more powerful apps, which in turn mean larger file sizes. However, even the largest iPhone apps tend to top out at about 1GB, with most coming in at 500MB or less.
Apple iPhone games are a different story. Simple games like Bejeweled, Pokemon Go, and Hearthstone typically take up around 300MB or so. More advanced 3D action games such as Call of Duty Mobile and PUBG Mobile come in at about 2GB or more. So if you’re a heavy gamer who likes keeping a lot of games installed at a time, you’ll definitely want at least 128GB.
Apple iPhone Price and Storage Options
Finally, we have to consider price. After all, if money weren’t a factor, we’d simply buy the highest capacity iPhone every generation. But over here in the real world, money matters. So we’ll want to select a storage option that’s comfortable — both for your wallet and for what you intend on doing with your phone.
|iPhone 7 Plus||$214||$230||$256|
|iPhone 8 Plus||$305||$334||$342|
|iPhone XS Max||$460||$500||$548|
|iPhone SE 2020||$303||$354||$409|
|iPhone 11 Pro||$654||$713||$827|
|iPhone 11 Pro Max||$712||$781||$847|
|iPhone 12 mini||$654||$692||$757|
If you buy directly from Apple, stepping up a tier generally adds $100-$200 to your purchase price. This often makes upgrading your storage not worth the added cost.
Swappa makes it cheaper to step up to higher storage versions of your favorite devices. Let’s use the iPhone 11 as an example. On Swappa, the iPhone 11 averages $524 for the 64GB version, $556 for the 128GB version, and $589 for the 256GB version. This means that for just $75 more, you can jump from the 64GB to the 256GB version.
Compare this to the Apple Store, where it costs $829 for the 64GB version, $879 for the 128GB version, and $979 for the 256GB version. In other words, it costs a whopping $150 to upgrade from the smallest storage option to the largest. So not only are iPhones cheaper on Swappa, but bumping up your storage to the next size is cheaper as well.
How much iPhone storage should I buy?
If you’ve made it this far and still aren’t sure which storage size to buy, we’ll go back to our blanket recommendation above. If you’re a typical user who takes a bunch of photos, a few videos now and then, and likes installing a bunch of apps and games, we suggest getting a 128GB iPhone.
128GB gives you enough room to breathe and gets rid of storage anxiety for most people. But if you constantly shoot a lot of 4K video or if you want to install a bunch of the latest 3D games, we recommend going with 256GB. Finally, if you don’t shoot a lot of video, and you don’t see yourself installing too many apps and 3D games at the same time, 64GB is plenty.
No matter which storage size you choose, you’ll always get the best deals at Swappa. Our safe and easy-to-use marketplace cuts out the middlemen, meaning that the money stays where it belongs — in your wallet. Buy with confidence knowing that our expert moderation team manually reviews each and every listing before it goes live in order to keep out junk and jerks.
So what are you waiting for? Click the button below to save on your next iPhone. And while you’re upgrading, don’t forget to get the most for your old iPhone by selling on Swappa.