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 actual free 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.

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, which iPhone XS model should I get: 64, 256, or 512GB?

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. 


Related phones

iPhone XS
  • Display 5.8" 1125 x 2436 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A12 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2490 MHz
  • Storage 512 GB
  • Battery 2659 mAh(20h talk time)
iPhone XS Max
  • Display 6.5" 1242 x 2688 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A12 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2490 MHz
  • Storage 512 GB
  • Battery 3179 mAh(25h talk time)



1. pecapello

Posts: 106; Member since: Feb 19, 2015

64GB option is more than enough for me. I bought my 64GB iPhone X in February and I still have 24GB of free storage.

2. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

I will prolly upgrade to Xs but not right now maybe in a couple on months


Posts: 926; Member since: Feb 23, 2014

How can you afford it? Conor is the one making the real money.

4. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

That dudes playing touch-butt with that dork in the park with a pony tail. And talking about money to a guy who made 2 million last fight, makes no sense.

5. midan

Posts: 2705; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

The more space you have the more crap you storage which you might need some day and in reality you never do. Been there done that many times. Nowdays buying only smallest versions, i made mistake and bought iPad Pro 256gb just to be sure i have enough space, it was total overkill. This is how human works, they harvest all kind of stuff which they don't need and with These computing devices it's so easy because you have so much free space. I'm trying to clean my phone regularly to avoid keeping all kind of crap and i noticed i can have so much smaller storage and i also only have what i really need, it's really good feeling. I recommend it!

18. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Like what kind of crap? It may be crap to you. But it may be things they need. Amd considering how limited the file system is on the iPhone, you cant store crap even if you wanted too. But here is my "crap" for you. I have 250GB worth of music. I would never stream that as I dont have an unlimited plan because carriers charge way to much vs Comcast. I have high quality MP3's which are bigger files. Plus other better audio format that are not lossless. Same as video. There are some movies I want to see in full resolution when I travel and I wireless connect to almost any smart TV, something an iPhone also cannot do unless the display supports Airplay. An I copy and transfer easier with just drag and drop. I dont have to use iTunes or some other desktop media management software. Plus Windows Media Player can sync my tunes automatically with my library right to my SDCARD inside the phone. And swap out song for quickly. And I can easily move them to any other device with ease, including Macs. In fact Android open file system makes file storage better than iOS offers for sure. And what is great is, I can go to just one screen and see, my internal storage, sdcard storage, all ALL my cloud storage options, which all free offer a minim 15GB of storage vs Apple only offerin 5GB. 5GB of iCloud my be enough got a lot of people. 64GB storage on a phone may be alot for the vast majority. But that doesn't mean there should bt other options for those who want and will pay for it and Apple is so late to the storage game.

6. Jrod99

Posts: 713; Member since: Jan 15, 2016

Think for the base price should have offer 128 but I can get by with 64.

7. Bfrenz

Posts: 285; Member since: Aug 26, 2012

512GB is enough for me! But, I already have Note8/iPhoneX-2ndry. So I'll wait and skip to iPhone 11 I guess?

8. Valdomero

Posts: 666; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

The 64GB is more than enough for me, 512GB is waaaaay overkill.

9. Pcworld1976

Posts: 117; Member since: Sep 18, 2018

Any, They are very expensive for what they offer

10. Michlins

Posts: 9; Member since: Dec 31, 2017

If there's a 128gb version then that's the best. With two years of usage, you are good to go. Unless you download music in wav format and videos in 4k resolution and then you don't delete videos

11. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2145; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

XS Max 512GB Space Gray. So far this is a welcome upgrade over the 7 Plus. It's going to take at least 3 hours to fully update as I have more than 1000 apps that are downloaded on my homescreen.

16. Leo_MC

Posts: 7190; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

And do you actually use more than 200?

12. cncrim

Posts: 1586; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

Right now, 64 will do. Which xs will i get? I stay with my present phone i7 just doing fine.

13. TechDork

Posts: 402; Member since: May 10, 2010

The 256 is my sweet spot. It's what I have now with my iPhone 8, but I won't be upgrading to the XS Max until another couple months.

14. darkkjedii

Posts: 30964; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I’m in AT&T as I type this from a gold Max, and all I can say is damn...this phone is nice. Yes it needs true multitasking, PNP, and Pencil Support, but wow!!!

15. KingSam

Posts: 1425; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

64 is fine. I have a 64gb 6s with about 30gb free.

17. Leo_MC

Posts: 7190; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I'll take a 32GB for 100€ less.

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