64GB, 256GB, or 512GB iPhone XS: which model should you buy?

64GB, 256GB, or 512GB iPhone Xs: which model should you buy?
Today is the big day, folks! Apple's newest iPhones, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, are coming to an Apple store near you – and you can bet there's going to be a queue of people wanting one. As you probably know by now, the latest iPhones are better than ever: with next-gen processors, upgraded cameras, and futuristic design – few of the many reasons to upgrade if you have an older model. But in this post, we'll focus on one iPhone specification in particular – storage space.

The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are the first iPhones to come with up to 512GB of storage built in. And that's a lot of file space! In fact, it is more than you'd find on many SSD laptops. But in reality, do you need 512GB of storage on your iPhone? Would you be better off going with a cheaper 64GB or 256GB model? Allow us to help you answer these questions.

Jump to the TL;DR version:Just tell me which iPhone to buy

How much actualfree storage is there in an iPhone?

Not all people are aware of this: every phone has some of its storage space occupied by the operating system and a bunch of stock apps. This is why the space available to the user is always less than the space the phone is advertised to come with. In the case of our iPhone X, about 7.6 gigs of its storage are currently reserved for the system, and the number grows to about 8GB once we take into account the stock iOS apps. Therefore, we can expect a 64-, 256-, and 512-gigabyte iPhone XS to provide you with approximately 56, 248, and 504 gigs of space respectively.

How much space do apps and games occupy?

Different people need different apps and play different games on their iPhones, which is why we cannot accurately predict how much space would be taken up by software on your particular device. But we can take a look at some of the most popular apps and games and see how many gigs they take up when installed. 

APPS: Here's a list of the apps we installed on our iPhone for the purposes of this article: Facebook, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Photos, Gmail, Google Maps, Amazon, Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Kindle, Netflix, Spotify, PayPal, Uber, Uber Eats, Waze, Pinterest, SoundHound, Yelp. All of them together took up a tad over 3GB of space, not taking into account the data these apps would cache as they're used. Clearly, apps don't eat up much of your storage, but with games, it's a different story. 

GAMES: We opened Apple's App store and downloaded 10 popular titles: Fortnite, AsphaltXtreme, Asphalt 9 Legends, ARK: Survival Evolved, Transformers: Forged Files, Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Life is Strange, Spiderman Unlimited, and Tekken. They ate up a whopping 12GB of space, with Fortnite alone weighing in at 3.5GB.

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APPLE SUITES: Lastly, we installed Apple's iWork and iLife suites of productivity applications, which include iMovie and Garageband for editing video and making music, as well as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for editing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. This consumed another 3.8GB of storage space.

So, to wrap things up for this part, 18.8GB of space would be enough to fit a reasonable amount of apps and games – enough to meet the needs of a typical iPhone user. But there's a couple more things we need to take into account when doing the math.

How much space do music, photos, and videos take up?

Without a doubt, video is the media with the highest storage space demands, and the figures vary depending on video quality. The iPhone XS supports several video resolutions and framerates that break down to these numbers:

  • 720p at 30fps: 40MB per minute
  • 1080p at 30fps: 60MB per minute (Default setting)
  • 1080p at 60fps: 90MB per minute
  • 4K at 24fps: 135MB per minute
  • 4K at 30fps: 170MB per minute
  • 4K at 60fps: 400MB per minute

Of course, higher resolution and higher framerates translate to more detailed and smoother videos, but also result in more storage space being taken up. 

Music is a lot less taxing. Should you choose to keep any Apple Music tracks for offline use, each will take around 9.2MB of space. So a gig of storage will fit around 108 songs.

And with photos, the situation is a bit complicated since image size varies depending on what's in the frame and on whether you have the Live Photo option enabled. But on average, and if you have Live Photos on about half the time, 1GB will fit around 262 shots. Our calculations are based on a total of 50 photos of various scenes.

So, is 64GB enough for iPhone XS?

A 64GB iPhone XS, with essential apps and a bunch of games installed, should have about 37GB of free space for your files. This is enough to fit 1000 songs, 2500 regular photos, 2500 Live Photos, and 2 hours of 4K video at 30fps. We believe one could realistically fit within these limits, as long as they don't shoot a lot of video. A 64GB iPhone should be much easier to live with if you take advantage of Apple's iCloud storage services to store your photos and videos in the cloud. 

A 256GB iPhone XS, with essential apps and a bunch of games installed, will provide you with about 229GB of free storage space. This can fit 6000 songs, 15000 photos and 15000 Live photos, as well as 18 hours of 4K video at 30fps. This is the storage option we'd recommend to most people, and especially to those who don't plan on changing their phone anytime soon. 

A 512GB iPhone XS, with essential apps and a bunch of games installed, will have about 485GB of free storage space. This is enough to hold 13,000 songs, 32,500 photos and 32,500 Live photos, and 26 hours of 4K 30fps video on top of that. In other words, 512GB is an insane amount of storage for a phone and a total overkill for the average person. This is a model we'd recommend only to the most hardcore iPhone users and to creators using the iPhone as their primary photo- and video-taking tool. 

Is 64GB enough for iPhone XS? Depending on your usage patterns, it very well might be.


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