How Much Phone Storage Do I Need? Plus Tips for More Storage

May 13, 2024 • Devin Partida


Buying a new phone comes with a lot of questions. One of the most common you’ll find yourself asking is “How much phone storage do I need?” 

The short answer is anywhere from 64 to above 500 gigabytes (GB), depending on how you use your phone. Clearly, that leaves a lot of wiggle room. To clarify things further, here’s a closer look at how phone storage works and how much you may need.  

Understanding Phone Storage

Before diving into how much phone storage you need, it’s important to understand your options. Different phone companies release varying ranges of built-in storage. Your choice of operating system (OS) affects your available space, too. 

iPhone Storage

The iPhone 15 — Apple’s latest flagship model as of early 2024 — comes in three storage sizes: 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. Earlier iPhones had 64 and 32GB versions, too. Naturally, older ones had even less storage, but you probably don’t want a phone that old, anyway.

It’s important to remember that these advertised sizes don’t necessarily reflect reality. That’s because your OS takes up some space. Your phone also has some pre-installed apps, several of which you can’t delete. So don’t be surprised when you can’t actually put 500GB worth of content on your 512GB phone.

How much space iOS and these apps take up depends on your phone, but it usually falls between five and 10GB. Keep in mind that you’ll need additional storage to download new iOS updates. For example, iOS 17 took around 3.3 GB to install when it launched.

Android Storage

It can be a bit harder to determine how much phone storage you need on an Android. That’s because they come in a much wider range of sizes. Android is an OS, not a piece of hardware, and a ton of different manufacturers make phones that use it, all offering different storage sizes.

The Google Pixel 8, for example, has just two storage options: 128GB and 256GB. By contrast, some high-end Samsung models have up to a terabyte (TB) of space.

Like iOS, Android takes up some space, too, so your real-world capacity will be less than what you see advertised. How much it takes up varies widely. In some cases, it’s around the five-to-10GB mark that iOS takes, but it can take upwards of 25GB in others.

Unlike iPhones, many Android phones also have a microSD card slot. This feature lets you give your phone more storage if you need it, though you’ll have to pay for the SD card if you don’t already have one.

How Much Phone Storage Do I Need for Normal Use?

Now that you know what to expect from your phone’s storage, you can figure out how much you need. That largely depends on the kinds of things you keep on your phone. For most casual users, 128GB is enough.

Let’s say your OS and pre-installed apps take up 15GB. That leaves you with 113GB of usable space. While that may not sound like much, mobile files tend to be small, so you can do a lot with 100-plus GB.

Spotify, for example, recommends having at least one GB to give you room for music downloads. A large library of a couple thousand songs will take up a few more gigabytes. You can store that, around 1,000 photos and around 100 apps or so and still not run out of room within 113GB.

How Much Phone Storage Do I Need for Photos and Videos?

Of course, how much phone storage you need will change if you store a lot of larger files. Media like photos and videos are some of the most common culprits. Today’s phones do a pretty good job condensing these files, but you’ll still want at least 256GB if you’re an avid photographer or store movies on your device.

High-resolution images typically take up at least 3.5MB but can easily get above 5MB per photo. Photos you take on a camera and move to your phone can be even bigger, as your phone’s camera will compress things quite a bit. Those numbers may not seem huge, but they’ll add up after a couple thousand pictures.

Videos take up even more space. A few minutes of 4K, high-framerate video can easily take a gigabyte or more. A mid-range 256GB phone should be enough for that, but if you’re storing entire movies on your phone, you may want a 500-plus GB phone.

How Much Phone Storage Do I Need for Games?

Games are another type of file that’ll take up a lot of space. That said, mobile games are a lot smaller than their PC and console counterparts. As such, between 256GB and 512GB should be more than enough for your mobile gaming needs.

The average mobile game takes up roughly 465MB, which doesn’t include save files and other documents they may store as you play them. They keep getting bigger over time, too, and you can find some games requiring a couple of gigabytes of storage.

In light of how game file sizes are growing, it’s best to aim high in terms of storage. Remember, you want space left for all the other things you use your phone for, too. So, the 256 to 512GB range is a good target.

How to Get More Phone Storage

Sometimes, it’s not all that helpful to ask how much phone storage you need. What if you don’t want to buy a new phone but are running out of space on your current one? Thankfully, you can expand your phone storage in a few ways.

One of the best ways to get more phone storage is to move some files to the cloud. Apple gives you 5GB of iCloud storage for free as well as a few paid plans offering more. You can capitalize on that by storing your photos on iCloud or offloading less-used apps to it.

Similarly, Android users can use Google Drive. As mentioned earlier, you can also use a microSD card to expand your offline phone storage. Today’s microSD cards can offer over 2TB of storage — much more than you’d need for your phone — and you only need to pay for them once.

You can get more phone storage without paying for additional space, too. The easiest way is to look for any apps you don’t use or photos you don’t need and delete them. You can also stream music instead of downloading it or use lower-quality downloads, which take up less space.

How Much Phone Storage You Need Depends on Your Usage

How much phone storage do you need? It’s up to your habits. While 128GB is enough for most users, 256GB and above may be necessary if you store a lot of hi-res photos or games.

Phone storage will only increase as time goes on, as will apps and mobile file sizes. Use this guide as a starting point, clear up your current storage and get more out of your phone today.