How much phone storage do you need?

We ask a lot of our smartphones. We need them to store photos, videos, apps, contacts, stream music and films, download emails, messages and webpages, and much more. It’s no wonder all of these tasks take up so much storage. So much of our life is saved on our phones, so it’s important not to run out of space - but do you know how much storage you really need?

Last updated: 26th Apr 2021 at 5:32pm

What is internal phone storage?

Your internal phone storage (sometimes referred to as ‘memory’) is the amount of space you have available directly on your phone’s drive to store your data. Examples of external storage include microSD cards, memory sticks/USBs, and plug-in hard drives.

How much storage you have initially varies depending on the type of phone and model you have. Before purchasing a phone, you can view the different storage capacities, which will also alter the price (with more storage being pricier), so you get the right amount for you. If you end up buying a phone with too little storage, you may find yourself needing to expand it or deleting some information to clear up much-needed room. 

The majority of smartphones nowadays come with one of the following storage options:

  • 8GB (though this is very rare now, and will usually only be found in very cheap or old phones)
  • 16GB
  • 32GB 
  • 64GB (one of the most common available, alongside 128GB)
  • 128GB (probably the most common, and sometimes lowest option available on the newest releases)
  • 256GB
  • 512GB (the highest capacity sold on smartphones)

If you need more than 512GB of storage, you can easily add more, such as through cloud storage or an external drive. These options can boost your storage massively, though it’s rare to need anything beyond 2TB at the moment. 

MB, GB, and TB explained

MB stands for ‘Megabyte’, and is smaller than GB ‘Gigabyte’. 1GB is composed of 1,000MB. A ‘Terabyte’ (TB) is even bigger, and is made up of 1,000GBs. 

Naturally, as phones have become more technologically advanced, the data that is required to complete tasks has also risen. So even though storage has become cheaper and more readily available over time, people need a higher amount of space to begin with. 

However, it’s not just tasks on your phone that determine how much MB or GB of storage you need; there are a number of other factors that can affect this amount as well, such as:

  • The display resolution on your screen - the higher the pixel resolution, the clearer and more detailed your screen, and the more data that is needed to showcase this clarity 
  • The quantity of images on a webpage - more data is needed to download images while opening a webpage than if it was just text
  • The quality of graphics on a game - once again, the higher the resolution, the more data that is required to load it vividly 
  • The size of files attached in emails - the bigger the file, the larger the email as a whole, and the more data is needed to download it, particularly offline using 4G

Despite this, for the most part you’ll determine your internal storage by how much you use your phone, and the types of activities you do on it. Take a look below to see how much storage each task will take up on your smartphone. 

How much storage do tasks take up?

Activity

MB or GB*

Storing photos

16GB for 4,000 photos if the images were 4MB each (high quality)

Recording videos

1.5GB per hour of video recording (1080p)

3GB per hour of video recording (2K) 

Downloading music

Spotify

Depends on the quality, but between 3MB and 10MB per song on your phone

Downloading social media apps

Depends on the overall size of the app, but approximately between 5MB and 2GB per app downloaded onto your phone

Downloading films 

Netflix

280MB for an hour episode (SD)

440MB for an hour episode (HD)

*Average approximations

As you can see, little tasks do build up over the month, and if you’re a heavy user in particular, you might find a notification on your phone claiming your storage is full before you realise it. Your phone will then stop storing or saving any new data, which you may lose, and you’ll be unable to do things like take pictures or record videos. 

How to check your storage

If you don’t know how much internal storage you purchased for your phone, or simply want to see how much you’ve used up so far, here’s how to check on both Apple and Android.

Apple

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to General
  3. Scroll down to find iPhone Storage
  4. Open iPhone Storage and you’ll see a breakdown of how much each topic is using up of your total internal storage

If you keep looking down on this page, you may see Recommendations for clearing up unnecessary space, as well as a breakdown of how much MB or GB each application on your device is using up. 

Further, if you tap on one of these applications, you’ll be able to see how much storage is being used for each minor task if that’s relevant, such as photos or Gifs within ‘Messages’. 

You can delete apps from in here too. 

Android

As there are so many Android models - Xiaomi, Google, and Huawei, to name a few - the process for this may be slightly different due to minor variations in the systems of each brand. 

Here’s how to find your internal storage on a Samsung phone:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Scroll down to find Device maintenance or Device care
  3. Within one of the above, choose Storage 
  4. This should open up a page which will show a breakdown of your storage, including how much you’ve used so far of your total internal memory, as well as how much each task (Documents, Images, Audio, Videos, and Applications) uses up

You can learn more about the storage required for each application from here, and potentially remove any that you don’t need if you’re getting tight on space. On some models, you may also get a Free Up Space tab appear, which will recommend old files and photos you may want to remove. 

What if I don’t have enough internal storage?

If you’ve gone into your storage settings and found that you don’t have enough internal storage for what you need to do, you have a few options:

1. Expand your memory using a microSD card

A microSD card is a small card that can be inserted into your phone to allow for extra storage. This card is removable and therefore insertable into other compatible devices. This won’t be an option for you if your phone doesn’t have a memory card slot. iPhones don’t have a slot for an SD card, but most Android models do. 

2. Use cloud storage

Cloud storage is a method of storing data digitally. Users save their files, like documents and photos, over an internet connection to a server, which is then accessible from any device in the world, thus making it a universal storage space. As long as you can access the internet, you can access a cloud service. 

If you have an iOS device, like an iPhone or iPad, you can use iCloud to store all, or some, of your photos, videos, documents, and apps to be accessed across all of your Apple products. As iOS products don’t allow the insertion of an SD card, this is a popular option amongst Apple owners.  

If you have an Android phone or tablet, you can download apps like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive, which work similarly to the iCloud. You can save and store any sort of file to access from a compatible device, as long as you’re connected to the internet. iPhone users can also use one of these instead of iCloud if they prefer. 

Be wary of subscription payments and monthly billing costs on these services, as some of them are only free up to a certain amount, whilst others require payment upfront to access the cloud storage to begin with. You may be able to experiment with a free trial before making up your mind.  

3. Manually free up space

You have the option on both iOS and Android to manually free up some space on your internal storage. Whilst your storage can give you an idea on what’s taking up the most space, you’ll probably have to delete things like big photo files, long videos, and large applications. Instead of parting completely with them, you could transfer these items onto a computer to store them on there, as most laptops have larger memories than smartphones. 

It’s good practice to refresh your phone every now and again, partaking in a little ‘spring cleaning’ by going through and deleting what you don’t need anymore. Many of us may forget that we saved files temporarily, or took photos we no longer want or need, and these things stay in the background taking up storage. 

Another way of manually freeing up some storage space, however small, is by deleting the cache or data connected to certain apps, like your browser. Deleting the cache will delete your temporary internet files. You can do this in Settings under a specific app - it will usually say something along the lines of ‘Clear history and website data’

4. Purchase a new phone

If none of these options work for you, your only remaining choice is to purchase a new phone with a larger internal storage capacity. Though this can be quite expensive, there are a number of budget phones available to buy on the market. 

Additionally, Asda mobile have a large range of affordable mobile phones available to browse and buy online or in stores. 

Other resources

For more in-depth reviews on what you can get for certain amounts of storage or data, feel free to read some of our other blog articles:

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