The $199 iPhone 5s comes with just 16GB of storage, which is simply not enough for a modern smartphone. Apple charges a steep premium for the 32GB and 64GB iPhone 5s models, but the extra storage capacity makes a world of difference in everyday use.
It’s easy to understand why most people lean towards the base 16GB iPhone 5s. Many national retailers only sell the most affordable iPhones. Apple makes a killing by charging an extra $100 for 32GB of storage and $200 for 64GB of storage. It’s no wonder why people shy away from the 64GB iPhone and its $399 price tag when there’s a nearly identical alternative sitting right next to it on store displays for half the price.
The iPhone 5s with a fresh install of iOS 7 will have 13GB of usable storage out of the box.Those who are upgrading from older models will of course transfer over apps, photos and other files over that will eat into that 13GB before they even use the phone for the first time.
Some people may think that the 16GB iPhone 5s is good enough, but they won’t be able to use it without worrying about running out of space. Once iPhone owners realize they’re low on storage, they start making compromises and their shiny smartphones become pretty dumb. Low storage can be a problem that’s as limiting as poor battery life or spotty cell phone coverage.
The Apple iTunes Store and and App Store are the most mature in the industry, providing instant access to an incredible catalog of apps, music, movies and videos. But those stuck with a 16GB iPhone 5s will have to be wary of what they buy and install. Many popular games require 500MB to 1GB of room. Feature films from the iTunes store take up anywhere from 1GB to 3GB each. With such large file sizes, it’s very easy to fill up a 16GB iPhone with just a handful of purchases.
The iPhone 5s has a new and improved camera app that includes features like burst mode and video zooming. Burst mode shoots 10 frames per second, which means iPhone 5s users will eat up about 25MB for every second the shutter is held down. That equals 1GB of storage for every 40 or so one-second bursts. iOS 7’s new video zooming feature will make it more tempting to shoot longer videos since it’ll be easier to follow subjects at greater distances. But recording video on the iPhone 5s will require approximately 150MB per minute of video, which means there’s only room for about 90 minutes on a 16GB iPhone 5s assuming you don’t want to download a single song or app.
Most buyers are going to have to live with the iPhone 5s for at least two years before they’re eligible for another upgrade. That’s a very long time to go with just 16GB. Sure, you can try to delete apps and transfer photos to manage free space, but you’ll eventually hit a wall. At some point you’re not going to be able to shoot a video of your kid blowing out his birthday cake candles or download a movie for him before you take off for a cross-country flight. Someday you’ll be unable to update your favorite apps without getting rid of other apps.
Apple knows how valuable extra storage space is to iPhone users, which is why it can charge so much for it. Spending $100 or $200 for 32GB or 64GB of storage is expensive, but it’s a small fraction of the total cost of ownership over two years. Upgrading to the 32GB iPhone 5s costs about the same as a decent pair of headphones. Many people will end up spending well over $200 on iPhone accessories over two years. Expensive wireless plans overshadow the cost of the extra storage by a large margin.
If you want the best iPhone 5s experience, buy as much storage as you can afford. We’ve never heard anyone complain about having too much storage capacity available.