Tip of the Day
Choosing the right capacity for your iOS device
Back in the early days of Apple’s media players—more specifically the iPod—choosing which capacity to buy was easy: if you had enough stuff to fill the smaller one, get the biggest one, and if not, perhaps the smaller one would do. In fact, that advice worked pretty well all the way up to the fifth-generation iPod, which added video—and therefore some very large new files—to the mix. Now, with everything from books, magazines, photos, videos, and apps taking up space alongside your music, choosing the right capacity is more confusing than ever—but we’re here to help.
Thanks to the fact that all three iOS devices offer the ability to shoot still images and video, you need to decide how often you’ll be using those cameras. The rear-facing, five-megapixel shooter on the iPhone 4 takes images that weigh in at roughly 1MB a piece—meaning you can shoot around 1,000 per GB of space—while the comparatively pedestrian stills from the rear camera of the iPad 2 and iPod touch take up roughly 200 KB per piece, making them nearly inconsequential to your storage total—just like any photos shot with the front-facing camera of any iOS device. The 720p HD videos shot by these devices eat up space at a clip of 80 MB per minute, or around 4GB for 50 minutes of video. For prospective iPhone 4S buyers, you can expect those numbers to be higher on the photo side, and potentially dramatically higher on the video side, as 1080p video traditionally takes up a lot of room. If you plan on taking lots of photos or videos, it’s something to take into account, and a good reason to prefer a 32GB or even 64GB model.
Apps are another major consideration. While many apps take up a trivial amount of space, apps containing a lot of multimedia content—The Elements for iPad, for example—can take up a GB of space each, quickly chewing through any available capacity. Games can also take up as much as a GB or more, making lower capacity devices a stretch for heavy gamers. Music is thankfully not a simple “X number of songs means X GB of storage” choice anymore. With streaming services such as Slacker, Rdio, and Spotify offering streaming straight to iOS devices, and Apple offering an iTunes Match service that puts your entire music library within reach without needing to hold it on your device, music is less of a concern than video, which can, like apps and games, take up gigabytes of space.
All told, if you plan on doing a lot of gaming, watching or recording a lot of video, or simply want the bragging rights, purchase the largest capacity device you can. For those who want to use their device primarily for Internet-based activities and don’t plan on playing games, shooting a lot of video, or carrying a lot of movies, the lowest capacity model should suffice. For everyone else, the 32GB model was the largest iPhone available for a long time, and should provide enough space for whatever it is you want to do, whether you’re opting for an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.
- Turning off alerts for individual Calendars in iOS 8
- Quickly viewing your most recent Notifications
- Enabling 60 fps Video Recording on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
- Reordering Photos in iOS 8 Photo Albums
- Improving In-Car Voice Navigation Prompts in iOS Maps
- Requesting the desktop version of a site in Safari on iOS
- Muting Conversations in Messages
- Enabling SMS Continuity in iOS 8
- Restoring Deleted Photos and Videos in iOS 8
- Monitoring Battery Usage in iOS 8
- Customizing Mail swipe actions in iOS 8
- Automatically removing old Messages in iOS 8
- Hiding Photos in the iOS 8 Photo Library
- Restricting web access in iOS 7
- Advanced Mail searching in iOS 7
- Using Smart Mailboxes in iOS 7 Mail
- Changing Siri’s voice
- Search the web from your iPhone home screen
- Fix iPhone battery + crash issues by reinstalling apps
- Adjusting the location alert radius in iOS Reminders
- Redeeming Gift Cards using your camera
- Zooming in Google Maps with one finger
- iOS 7: Blocking inbound calls and messages
- iOS 7: Monitoring and Controlling Cellular Data Use
- Organizing Home Videos in iTunes
- Storing Google Maps for offline use
- iOS 7: Changing the Mail Flag icon
- iOS 7: Displaying Shortened Names
- Browsing Photos and Videos in Messages
- iOS 7: Enabling or Disabling Automatic App Updates
- See all Tips. »
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.
- Japan Display vying to be Apple’s primary display supplier (Update: new plant confirmed)
- Apple comes to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, will replace AT&T
- Apple extends iPhone 5 Battery Replacement Program
- Revamped Apple music service not coming until WWDC; new Apple TV later this year?
- Larger iPad production delayed until later this year, USB 3.0 ports to be added?
- Apple, others likely to reach $415M settlement in poaching lawsuit (Update: settlement approved)
- Apple and HBO in talks for ‘HBO Now’ service launch
- Report: Next-gen ‘iPhone 6s’ to feature 2GB RAM, Apple SIM
- Apple looking to settle with electric car battery company
- Apple pushing out fix next week for ‘FREAK’ security flaw
- Gumdrop Cases Drop Tech Case for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
- Uniq Aircraft+ for iPhone 6
- Speck MightyShell + Faceplate for iPhone 6 Plus
- Mobile Home Siri remote
- Olloclip Macro 3-in-1 Lens, Telephoto + CPL Lens for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
- ExoLens Professional Photography System for iPhone 6
- Incipio offGRID Shine for iPhone 6
- Seidio Obex for iPhone 6
- RooCase GlacialTough for iPhone 6 Plus, VersaTough for iPhone 6 + 6 Plus
- CM4 Q Card Case for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
- Can I transfer the existing version of an app to my new iPhone?
- How do I quickly erase all of the contacts on my old iPhone?
- How do I disassociate my phone number from iMessage?
- How do I stop Siri from randomly waking up?
- How do I cancel a print job on iOS?
- How do I make my camera LED flash when my iPhone rings?
- How do I re-sync contacts to my vehicle after switching to a new iPhone?
- How do I move away from a shared Apple ID for iMessage?
- How do I consolidate iTunes purchases into a single account?
- How can I more easily Handoff a web page from my Mac to my iPhone?