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What iPhone 5s Size Should You Buy?



The iPhone 5s is set to launch on September 20, and while most veteran Apple users know exactly what model they’re getting, you may be a newcomer who might have a hard time deciding what storage size to get, especially if the iPhone 5s will be your very first smartphone. It will come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB flavors, so before you head on down to the Apple Store or your local carrier store, make sure you know what storage size to get.

In most other phones, you don’t really need to think long and hard about what storage size to get, mainly because a lot of Android devices come with microSD card slots that allow you to shove in an extra 32GB of storage whenever you need it, but the iPhone 5s won’t have that luxury, so you’ll have to decide how much storage you’ll need for all your mobile games, photos, videos, music, movies and TV shows. Luckily, we’re here to help.


What Takes Up Space?

If you already have an iPhone, you can navigate to Settings >General > Usage to see a list of what apps you have and how much space they’re taking up. You can see how much space all of your photos and videos are consuming by looking at “Photos & Camera.” If you’re on Android, you can head to Settings > Storage.


Yes, the operating system itself takes up space on your iPhone. Apple doesn’t tell you how much, though, but you can easily find out by going into the Usage page in Settings and adding up the storage used and the storage amount that’s free, then subtracting that number from the total space of your iPhone (16GB, 32GB or 64GB). For me on my 16GB iPhone 4S, iOS 7 takes up 2.6GB.


Apps themselves don’t take up a lot of space — usually under 100MB a piece, but additional data such as cache, history, etc. can add another couple hundred megabytes to that. Plus, if you intend on having a ton of apps, the storage required can add up. There are also bigger apps like GarageBand, which can take up a gigabyte or so by itself.


Games can be one of the biggest culprits of storage hogging. Depending on the game, they can take up anywhere from a couple hundred megabytes, all the way up to several gigabytes. For instance, graphic-intensive titles like Real Racing 3 and Infinity Blade II can take up several gigabytes a piece, so if you plan on doing a lot of gaming while on the go, you might think about going for the higher storage capacity options.


appsMusic files are pretty small, but you might have a pretty large music collection. I’ve met plenty of people who are rocking music collections over 25GB easily, so if you’re a music junkie, consider aiming high when thinking about storage. Of course, there are cloud and streaming options, but that really only works if you’re around WiFi a lot or have an unlimited data plan, but many users don’t have the luxury of either.

Movies & TV Shows

Besides games, movies and TV shows are the biggest storage hogs; HD movies can take up several gigabytes a piece. You could go standard definition and save on space, but the iPhone’s Retina display would make the smaller-res movies look a bit grainy, and if you’re a quality nut like we are, you’ll always want your content in high definition.

Photos & Videos

Some people take a lot of photos, and record a ton of videos, and all that media can add up quickly. Sure, you can constantly transfer your photos and videos to your computer in order to free up space, but sometimes we don’t have access to a computer while we’re out having fun. This is where you might need more storage for your photo memories.

Which Size Is Right for You?

It really depends on what you’ll use your phone for, but here’s a breakdown that may help you make your decision.

iphone5s-selection-hero-2013 copy16GB – Basic Users, Cloud Advocates, Non-Gamers

The 16GB model of the iPhone 5s is perfect for those who don’t plan on consuming a lot of media or playing games. However, it can be good for those who plan on consuming a lot of media but use the cloud instead. Personally, I use the cloud for everything; Netflix for movies and TV shows, Spotify for music, and Dropbox’s instant upload for photos and videos that I take. The result is around 11GB free on my 16GB iPhone.

32GB – Moderate Users, Music Lovers, Mediocre Gamers

This is the middle of the road, and it’s good for the type of users who don’t consider themselves basic users, but also not media junkies that have a lot of games and videos. If you have a healthy amount of apps and play a few games, as well as store your generous amount of music on there, 32GB is probably enough.

64GB – Power Users, Media Junkies, Gamers

The 64GB is the highest you can go, and it’s meant for the media junkies of all media junkies. Well, maybe not all media junkies. If you have a large music collection, you probably won’t be able to store all of your music on your iPhone and still have room for other stuff, but if you download a lot of apps and play a lot of games, as well record videos nonstop, the 64GB version is the only choice for you.

The Bottom Line

You’ll be paying $100 more for each storage level that you move up, with the 16GB version costing $199, the 32GB costing $299 and the 64GB costing $399 on-contract. If you’re at a crossroads on which storage level to get, just remember that $100 is pocket change compared to what you’ll be paying to use the phone over the course of two years, so if you want a storage cushion, paying $100 extra for more storage won’t be a big deal in the long run.

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