128 GB iPhone 5S, iPad Inbound This Year?

Rumors of what the next generation iPhone and iPad models may look like have already been swirling and the latest one may suggest that Apple is ready to upgrade the storage capacity of its highest end models with a 128 GB edition of either the iPhone 5S and/or the iPad. According to the latest iOS 6.1 beta that is being seeded to developers right now, a 128 GB option was mentioned in the SystemPartitionPadding in the Build Manifest, indicating that Apple is exploring new storage options.

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A screenshot posted on iDownload Blog shows that the 128 GB system partition is being tested by Apple for iOS 6.1 whereas iOS 6.0 did not have the 128 GB partition.

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Is There a Market for 128 GB of Storage?

Today’s maximum storage capacity for iOS devices is presently 64 GB for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and iPad mini. A 128 GB model would double today’s storage limits and give more flexibility to power users, particularly those who carry a lot of content with them, such as photos, videos, movies, and music. As an aspiring photographer, a 128 GB capacity iPad or iPad mini would be an appealing option so that I can carry with me my photo portfolio.

128 GB Rumors and Hints in the Past

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However, this hasn’t been the first time that Apple has hinted at a 128 GB capacity model. In the past, build logs for the iPhone have hinted at such a model, but thus far Apple still has not released a model with such expansive storage. Given Apple’s additional $100 charge for doubling the storage of the prior model, a 128 GB iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 model, for example, may cost $500 with a two-year contract in the U.S. or up to $950 unlocked if Apple matches its current pricing scheme. Today’s pricing scheme for the iPhone 5 is as follows: the base 16 GB model costs $200 on-contract, a 32 GB model costs $300, and the 64 GB model costs $400.

Given the high retail cost of a 128 GB model, it’s unclear how many units of those Apple would be able to move. Additionally, the company has been exploring various cloud options to allow users to move away from on-board storage to cloud-based storage. Apple’s iCloud service is being heavily promoted by the iOS-maker and offers an alternative to fixed storage where users can access the same content from any device any where that has an Internet connection.

A Play to Match Samsung

And if Apple does decide to upgrade its storage capacities, it would theoretically be able to match Samsung’s theoretical maximum storage on mobile devices. The main difference between Apple and Samsung to date is that the former does not offer a memory card to augment storage capacity while the latter does. Samsung offers options up to a 64 GB maximum on its Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 devices, though that option isn’t available everywhere, and those devices come with a micro SD card slot that can accept a micro SDXC card up to 64 GB capacity, maxing out with 128 GB of storage total between fixed memory and memory card.

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Still, both Apple and Samsung offer more robust choices than competing Windows Phone handsets. The flagship Windows Phone 8X by HTC is capped with a paltry 16 GB model and the base model starts with just 8 GB storage. Nokia’s flagship Lumia 920 only comes with 32 GB of storage. Lower end Windows Phone 8 hardware, ironically, comes with a bit more flexibility with a micro SD card slot.

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