Why I Regret Buying the 16GB New iPad

In March, I decided to pick up the new iPad, Apple’s third-generation tablet. I bought the 16GB model, the same amount of storage space that I had on my iPad 2. Before I bought the new iPad, I had doubts that the 16GB would be enough space and unfortunately, those worries have now played out into real-life.

Over the past few months, I hadn’t had too much trouble with the 16GB limit on my iPad. However, that’s because the device never left my house. With the iPad 3, I’ve started to take the iPad 3 out of the house more and more, especially when traveling. This is something that I never did with my iPad 2 and it’s not something I saw coming when I decided to pick up the 16GB model.

Essentially, it has become clear that I absolutely needed to buy a larger iPad, something that I might end up doing in the not-so-distant future. So, in an attempt to maybe persuade or dissuade some of you from picking up the 16GB new iPad, here are some thoughts on my last month or so dealing with the precious storage space found on the slate.

I definitely need more space on my new iPad.

Read: New iPad Review.

It’s Not for Power Users

When my iPad 2 was my main device, I didn’t consider myself a power user. The device rarely, if ever, left the house, and I only used it to watch the occasional video or answer email. I also used it to browse the web.


With the iPad 3, I have definitely turned into a power user. One of the reasons is because of how good the Retina Display looks. Because of it, I have started reading books, extensively surfing the web, and even doing work directly from the iPad itself.

It also features a powerful processor that, combined with the Retina Display, provides for powerful gaming. I have started using the iPad kind of like how I used the GameBoy back when I was a kid.

In addition, as time has gone on, I’ve started making use of the extensive App Store. From productivity tools, to an application called djay that I use to mix music for fun, I am using my new iPad more and more on the go.

Problem is, doing all of this requires space and lots of it. And unfortunately, space is limited on my 16GB model. It has become a bit of chore deleting books, music and apps I download to free up space.

One app in particular that I play a lot is FIFA 12 which recently got updated to support Retina graphics. I had to uninstall 10 different things in order to get the update. The app itself is now well over 1GB of in size as well. That’s 1/16th of the iPad. And again, that’s just one game.


It’s frustrating to say the least.

It’s Not Good For Traveling

Recently, I’ve been traveling a lot and I’ll make this clear. Being limited to the 16GB is not conducive to traveling. When I travel, I always look for things to pass the time whether it’s books, movies, or apps. I consume far more storage then when my iPad is at home.

I recently went on a trip and found a host of things that I wanted to download but also, a host of things that I didn’t want to delete to make room for the new stuff. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.

Of course, all of this could have been alleviated had I bought an iPad with a larger amount of storage space.

But If You Just Want Something for the House…

I will say this though. If you’re planning on never taking the iPad out of the house, a 16GB model is probably going to work for you. However, as time goes on, and your use cases increase and you start becoming more comfortable with your device, you may wind up like me, regretting the amount of storage space on your brand new iPad.


        • Although apple products are expensive, they’re potentially less expensive than Android devices. Look up the security holes that people were able to exploit on the android devices. When they came out, the data sent wasn’t ever encrypted so a simple packet sniffer could give me all the info I need to steal all the money in your back account.

        • Are u kidding? Droids just suck donkeys. Don’t even utter them in the same breath. Please.
          Now the new MS surface. That IMHO will give the iPad a run for its money.

      • exactly, why would anyone buy a ipad? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
        oh no I ran out of space on my 16GB android! oh wait I added a 64GB SD card so no problems…. I even brought a separate 64GB card filled with movies LOL

        • Nice!!! exactly. i havent even hardly touched the internal gigs on my tablet. The descently cheap external possibilities r too good. Again. 16GB is sufficient. Provided u use the external capabilities that r easily accessible. Dont be afraid to think outside the apple box!!! lol.

          • I jailbroke my iPad and now im able to use the SD adapter for cameras for storing apps music and photos saves me a lot of space.

          • Down below someone said jailbreak your Ipad. I have herd if you do that you void the warenty from apple why would anybod want to deal with apple junk? It is over priced and a wast of money which I work hard for.

  1. I chose the 32GB wifi over the 16GB 4G because I have always used the hotspot feature in my phone, and otherwise would have access to wifi on travel for heavier Internet traffic. More space for rental movies on the go in my case was the deciding factor.

  2. Adam – that is a key Apple lesson (well, true for most stuff but ESPECIALLY for Apple) … buy ALL the storage/speed/memory you can possibly afford (and stretch your budget if needed).

    I got the 64GB 4G/LTE version and that was the best decision ever. I used the iPad 1 heavily, but with the iPad 2 it was fast becoming my general purpose computer … and with the iPad 3 it is the most used device in my arsenal by far.

    • I just don’t use data enough to justify paying for the iPad’s carrier 4G on a no-refund and non-prorated basis; I can remove or add prorated Hotspot to my phone at any time with a few clicks. I believe pay-as-you-go iPad carrier data expires in 30 days, if i remember from my first ipad. Also, since I change gadgets so much, I know that the 4G would only help with appeal and not resale value on Craigslist where typical people will choose lower price over value. People want to pay you wifi prices for 3G/4G devices on Craigslist.

    • Completely agree with you about buying the best configuration you can afford since since Apple’s practically eliminated user upgrades. Apple does charge hefty fees for more storage capacity, but it’s worth it if it means you won’t run into roadblocks. Check back tomorrow for my thoughts on the MacBook Pro w/ Retina Display’s tiny 256GB SSD.

  3. I got the 16GB new iPad and I use it as my primary computer and I find it’s plenty of space. I think that I’m able to maximize the space through a specific strategy though: the cloud.
    I use a combination of iTunes in the Cloud and Rdio for music (meaning I have, in total, a gigantic collection of music surpassing even what a 64GB ipad could carry) and only store my most listened to music on the device locally. I also use Netflix and online video players over storing video on the device (which limits me if I wanted to watch movies on a plane/train, but means I have, again, a gigantic library while on wifi).
    DropBox and Box.com for most of my file storage also help.
    I just download what I need when I need it, and if an app, book, album, etc is just sitting on my iPad unused, it’s gone. I can always redownload it later.

    Of course, I would love a larger amount of storage in my iPad, but that’s a lot higher cost, and if your home/work/etc internet plan is already great, there’s no need to pay more monthly to make up for all the cloud access.

    Just my thoughts.

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking while reading all of the previous responses. Just use some cloudage!!! There’s many options as to what app or website u want use to get cloud storage and yes a Lott of heavy programs can b accessed on somebody else’s server dime.

      • In other words 16GB is plenty of onboard storage because u can get as much storage as u need beyond 16gigs by storing any new app, track, pic. Etc. in a cloud provided by either iTunes or many different apps in the store or just a website in safari. just search cloud. Lots of good additional storage options

        • Well I would not go that far. You really can’t use the cloud or portable storage for apps. You can delete some and redownload from iTunes.

          Some apps for IPad can get real big. I have heard some of the higher end games can be as large as 1GB. “My favorite farts” not so big. So you need to make a judgement on current and future app needs.

          I gave myself some wiggle room and got the 32gb model. 16 might be good enough now, but in 2 years maybe not.

    • i love how people talk about the “cloud” like its this new and amazing feature. Remotely accessed server based storage has been around for 20 years.

      • Oh Wow E. Aren’t you just so smart and amazing, if only other people could be as knowledgeable and insightful as you. And believe me we are all so glad that you are spewing your oh so important opinions on here, because we all come here and reload the page just to see what great information you can impart on us.

        Shut up troll.

  4. I got my ATT 4g 64GB iPad 3 and I could not be happier with it(jailbroken now). Especially since I have unlimited data….

    I’m already using more then 32GB’s and that’s just from the 200 and some apps I have installed.

    • Your iPad 3 is NOT jailbroken……now I even wonder if you ave an iPad since you lied about that…….there IS NO JAILBREAK for the iPad 3 yet.

      • Actually, I take that back……there is or 5.1.1, but not for 6.0, soi stand corrected……….just wish they had one for 6.0, but nooooooooo, no one is even working on one at this time…..(really sucks)….

  5. I often find choosing space on a handheld device is difficult for most, because of the price and general misconception about how much “space” they are going to use. Having witnessed the issue that the OP has, I almost always go for the largest size available on a device in which you cannot replace or supplement the OEM memory.

    Even if it has the expansion slot available I still prefer the resident memory to be as large as possible, simply because it’s less hassle, and gives you the most flexibility. As for choosing it based on home usage vs. traveling, I think it’s a moot point and depends on how you use the device.

    There are so many variables with cloud storage, WiFi, tethering, Radio Service (3G/4G) that I can’t justify a 1-to-1 relationship of travel = more storage.

  6. Hello there! Maybe I’d like to share a few tips for power users:

    First of all, 64GB is really a must-have. IMO, I am a power user myself (yes, I have to admit, thank you for the term, to whoever who wrote this article) and I own a 64GB iPhone 4S. (:

    If you’re really into apps, I recommend you create your Apple ID, and download the free apps, unless you have your own credit card (I’m a college student, BTW, and I don’t have a credit card, lol).

    • College student and no credit card?!? Can’t believe how nowadays “kids” get all these electronic toys but don’t have bank accounts, credit cards, etc. It’s not hard to get approved but you probably hardly ever work.

      • I’m a kid and I have a iPad 2 16gb (using it now). I saved up $250 for it. It took me 2 years to save up that much. Now I cracked it do you think I am going to get another one? No way because I’d have to work for all that money again. You can do the same thing I did (and most other people), work. No loans or anything just cold hard cash.

          • It’s a kid man. Seriously? I give the kid props and his or her parents for going through the process of actually earning something. A value that seems to be lost in to many situations in today’s young generations feelings of extreme! Entitlement.

        • Unless you bought apple care or some other insurance the options are not good. The iPad is not like the iPhone and is not really repairable. It is a sealed system. Getting the panel off is not easy and a new panel costs $150. I would not recommend you try it yourself unless you are really good at this stuff. Most repair shops do not even want to mess with it.

          See ifixit.com for a guide. Sorry for the bad news. I suggest next time save some more for insurance and/or get otterbox type case to protect it.

        • That sucks bro. But ya. Not much u can do but save up for another one. and then some… to also purchase insurance. Or just get a nice case for it and be sure u don’t take it out of the case unless u absolutely have to. Better luck next time buddy

    • The 500GB GoFlex will serve both your iPhone – mine is 16GB, and your iPad at the same time and provide additional access to a third person, if you want. Presentations are easily shared and what ever you want to, use is always available. I easily have almost every album (hundreds) that I would want to listen to, with lots of tutorials; lots of movies; many different photo portfolios of my work; hundreds of books – audio and print; and I still have a couple of hundred GB available. Updating what is on my drive is as easy as syncing, and all for under 200USD! It’s a great value and has added functionality to my iPad and my iPhone. My 16GB iPad is wifi; if you use a phone, you do not need that service for your iPad. Think smart, work smart. I always carry my phone and I seldom use my iPad without my GoFlex. It’s a package deal. :-)

      • Smart man. That has been on my shopping list. 5 hrs battery time. 500GB. What do think apple would charge for a 500 GB iPad or iPhone ?

        • Once you go GoFlex, you’ll never go back. I’m waiting for the Galaxy Note 2 and using it in tandem with my GoFlex. I will definitely be getting the 16GB model. If I know there are web pages I want to read, I download them to the Satellite and I can read them in places where there is no wifi or phone connection. I’m loving having whatever web pages I’m interested in loaded onto the GoFlex for reading in the subway and other “no service” areas without concern about the connection environment. Thor, when you get it, you will not only be a smart man, you’ll be a happy man!

  7. I’ve owned my 16 gb iPad 3 for a few weeks now, and I really like my first apple experience. It does have limited space but I reckon I can work my way around it. Thanks to Hulu plus, Netflix and the iCloud. I do hope that online storage becomes cheaper in the near future.

  8. Have you tried using dropbox as a storage facility? I have a 50Gb dropbox account that can take everything i would ever need it to. Worth a try!

    • Exactly! I would not recommend buying anything other than the 16GB model and using the GoFlex which fits into all my shirt pockets. It goes wherever my iPad goes; and at less than 200USD for 500GB and not 200USD for 48GB additional, it’s a no brainer! Do the math!

  9. I jailbroke mine and with iFile you can use a 8-64GB zip drive with the camera kit (gives you a USB port). That way you can have movies, music, photos, documents etc. with you at all times and skies the limit. This configuration also allows you to use an external hard drive for work or home.

  10. dude, you maybe wanna try seagate sattelite wifi version, it has the 500 GB storage and can be accessed by your ipad through wifi, so i dont see the capacity is the problem even i also have 16 Gb in the new Ipad..

  11. you are just another idiot consumed by Apple money hungry gadget-craze. Sorry for you man.Instead of wasting your $$$ and sitting all day long=== HIT the gym,the beach,GO OUTDOORS. You people are just pussy guys.

  12. You should buy the Seagate GoFlex Satellite if you are having trouble with space. It’s a hard drive with built-in Wi-Fi so you can download all your movies and stream them without an internet connection.

  13. Just move stuff to your SD card, I do that on my phone when I needed. New phones and tables support up to 64GB SD cards.

  14. I bought the I-pad 2 with just 16gb. of memory & I’m fine with it. But I’m not a power user when it comes to my I-pad. I have my music on it. But the cloud takes real good care of all my music I do have. I have my pics & some of them I end up sending to Walgreen’s & having them made into 4×6 photos. As for games; I don’t play but a couple of games on my I-pad. I’m always on the desktop or my laptops.

    When I get through reading a book I delete it. I just love electronics. I work on computers & I love buying new gadgets. So I may go a day or two without even picking up the I-pad. Like I said. Most of my games are played on my desktop or the 2 laptops I have. Also love playing games on my Samsung Galaxy 3-S also. I absolutely love it. Nothing against the I-phone. I think it’s very nice. But I do love having the extra memory on my cell phone. And yes. I have got to quit BUYING electronics & gadgets.

    Everyone have a great day.

  15. Another stupid comment from this website editors. I have owned the iPad2 16 since it came out and use it for work and take it everywhere with me. It’s more than enough space if you only use it for work. No iPad has enough memory if you are going for heavy entertainments. And the iPad3 certainly is not the best one for work usage. Who needs the extraordinary screen and added weight ? Best pick up the iPad 2 16 for work and use something else for heavy entertainment. Sony perhaps ?

  16. Exactly why I freaking hate APPLE. Put in an SD card and solve the problem !!!! I have a Motorola Xoom and I am upgrading to the Galaxy Note 10.1 both have expansion slots so when I run out of memory swapping out will be easy. Apple just wants you to lay down another $800.00 for a 64gig !!!! Stupid Apple.

    • You are stupid just plain stupid that’s why android gets all bugged up and apple still goes hard

      • There’s nothing stupid about suggesting the option of an SD card. Apple’s IOS is totally locked down and they control every aspect of what you can and can’t do. That’s why there is no SD card. Whether or not they are acting stupidly is a matter of debate – it works for most people but ultimately could be their downfall as consumers become less “stupid” and more aware of what they want from their devices.

  17. I’m not sure how all this works in the Apple ecosystem, but I face similar limitations with my 16gb Google Nexus 7. My solutions are pretty simple, yet very effective.

    1) Use cloud storage as much as possible. I purchase entire seasons of TV shows, but store none on my device. I use Dropbox, Drive and other online storage solutions and keep media there.

    2) Make use of your phone’s storage. I not only tether to my 4G LTE phone to share it’s internet access, I use it’s 80gb storage as well. I keep plenty of music and video on my phone and watch it on my tablet.

  18. Apple’s IPA delivery is seriously flawed and needs an update.. When the phone/pad is JB you can remove all the excess files such as retina videos and images for a non-retina device. On some devices this really saves gigabytes which is substantial on smaller devices.. When I own an iphone I don’t need gigabytes of ipad files in my system and vice versa.. Also there are 10s of thousands of wasted language files on every device – sort it out it’s just a non-compressed zip file anyway (which is customised per user already since it carries apple-id-specific information. Lazy
    /rant over

  19. This is EXACTLY why I picked up an Android tablet with an SD slot. No room left? Stick a card in it and move things to it. No need to buy a whole new device because I ran out of room.

  20. Yeah, it’s a PITA to have no expandable storage. Apple knows hardcore users like you and I will find ourselves out of space, and end up buying an overpriced higher capacity iPad the next time they release one. Well, it worked on me anyway. I know, Android tablets have expandable storage… coincidentally, I have a nice Android phone with no expandable storage (Galaxy Nexus).

  21. This is pretty ridiculous. Anyone who can’t make 16GBs of space work is a digital horder. Use the cloud. Don’t download everything you might use every other month.

    • While I can understand your point, there are many reasons 16 GB is not enough. Gamers: some use as much as 1GB just for the one game. Video: if you are away on vacation and shoot video that can eat up space real fast. The Cloud is extremely expensive if you are somewhere without Wifi. No wifi at the beach or a Boy Scout camp or in a state park. Or grandmas house. If you do not live in a top 20 city, public wifi is not as ubiquitous as you may think.

      • Not all Cloud service is expensive….. It can be very reasonable. Do the research. And if you travel to many places without wifi and you must have it, then you’re talking about tethering and so forth…..research

  22. Two words: Cloud Storage. Clean the unneeded stuff off the iPad, use apps as needed and store stuff in the Cloud and access ad needed. You’d be surprised at how much space you’ll save and how much more efficient you and your iPad will be…

    • Two words: data caps. Two more words: AT&T Verizon. Research it. Cloud storage is cheap. You can set up your own at home and have terabytes. Accessing cloud storage is expensive. Constantly shuffling data around is: wait for it. Two Words: Time Consuming.

      I am happy for you. You have all the ingredients to make the cloud work for you. Two words: Time, money.

  23. I bought the 16GB iPad 3 at launch. First time I’ve owned an iPad, thought it would be enough. Got that March 16th obviously…May 14th and I had a 64GB delivered to me! 16GB wasn’t enough. May have partly been down to jealousy – my partner sold her 16GB iPad 3 for a 64GB Wi-Fi and 3G iPad 1. Either way, I quickly ran out of space lol. Now using just over 32GB on my 64GB iPad 3 and very happy that I don’t have to worry really about what I download and what I use it for. I have some music on it but, no videos. I don’t go out of the house with it but, I will be in the near future and I know I will be adding videos to it and a few more time passing apps/games.

  24. I’m ready to buy my first Ipad and based on these posts think I’ll spend the extra $200 on a GoFlex or something like it as soon as I find out what it is and does, I may be able to use it for other things.

    • Just remember that the GoFlex and other similar devices are for storing content, not apps. So if you think you are going to have a ton of apps especially high end games then 16GB may not be enough. Keep on mind once you buy an app you can delete it and redownload to free up space.

      I had not heard of the AirStash and looked it up. Interesting device. One to consider.

      Of course if you jailbreak the device that opens up many more storage options, but jailbreaking does have its own issues. ( security, cat and mouse game with apple, some claim battery life issues, slight performance hit, etc). Only jailbreak if you really know what you are getting into and understand the murky legal issues, especially with tabs.

  25. When you talk about the App Store/whatever “needing more space, and lots of it”, is this just because the apps/etc themselves need more space (which you’d expect) – or is it because the iPad OS eats up space (which you wouldn’t necessarily expect)?

    I know the Mac OS manages to eat up about a gig or two with the sleepimage (/var/vm/sleepimage) – which it *doesn’t* automatically delete when you wake the machine up and I wonder if it creates more swapimages than it needs (also in /var/vm/) – and fails to delete them as soon as it doesn’t.

    If my Mac has been on for several days, I’ll have about 10 of them in there – does it really need that many? Even after I shut down all apps – that should clear away a lot of the virtual memory/”automatiac”-reference-counting. MacOS these days also stores an enormous amount of cache information – for Mail, Finder, Spotlight.. Spotlight is the bane of Mac processor-time-sucking. I use it to find a few things quite regularly, so I can’t turn it off completely, and it’s used in almost everything in the OS these days. iOS is probably worse.

    Just how efficient is the iOS at “conserving space”?

    • I can’t comment on ios conserving space. I can say my 32GB iPad 3 shows a capacity of 28GB in settings. I would extrapolate that a 16GB has only 12GB user space available. Apps that use a lot of high resolution graphics will eat up more space.

  26. I finally bought an ipad – been saving and trying to decide for ages. I got the ipad3 3G.

    I thought it would be love at first sight as I have been addicted to my iphone for years.

    I am not feeling the love:

    I have had it for about 5 weeks and find it often freezes when I am trying to read emails

    I have given up downloading many apps as they whirr round for days so I usually end up going into an apple store and getting it loaded there.

    I don’t have a PC at home and thought that there would be things I could do there using the ipad.

    I am back to using my phone for emailing and feel really ripped off.

  27. Also, retina Apps require a lot more space than previous lower-res Apps. I think Apple needs to default on a 32GB baseline for it’s iPad line, and go up to 128GB. Soon.

  28. Having used a 16 GB iPad over the last year or so, I have a different view. I use the iPad for email, web, reading, podcasts, watching videos and running apps, and have never had an issue of running out of memory/storage space. I travel extensively for business and often use my iPad instead of a laptop, yet I rarely consume much more than half the storage space in the tablet. I opted for a WiFi only unit since you can find WiFi almost anywhere, and have never really missed having 3G on it.

    • Good to hear you are a lucky one and not memory challenged. I have wifi only ipad also, but am very limited with out outside the house. Wifi is not so ubiquitous in St. Louis or Omaha. You are fortunate to live and travel where it is. AT&T likes to put it in stupid places like SAMs Club. If I need to do a price check my phone will suffice for that. I tend not to watch video or read blogs while shopping, others may have different habits.

      Do you share your ipad with other users such as children? That can make a big difference. My app choice does not converge well with my 7 and 10 year olds. Maybe it should.

  29. There are lost of options, one for movies and music you can pick up a WiFi Hard drive – 120GB of space, no need to plug it in and view different images, files, music at the same time, this is loads of storage for me and works with any WiFi Devices with a screen and a browser.

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