Picking the right iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max storage size for your needs and your budget can be tricky so we want to help you decide between the 64GB model, the mid-range 256GB model, and the expensive 512GB configuration.
While you might be tempted to buy one of the larger storage options, many of you won’t need to spend the money for 256GB or 512GB of storage.
There are several important factors to consider before you settle on an iPhone XS storage size and we’re going to break all of those down for you right here in this guide.
iPhone XS Storage Options
The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max come in three colors which matches the three storage options Apple released.
There’s a huge gap between the 64GB and the 256GB and 512GB models and the 512GB is twice as much storage as the 256GB model.
The large gap between the three models makes this a difficult decision for a lot of people.
Apple’s iPhone XS used to start at $999, but the price has dropped considerably since the phone launched back in 2018. Same goes for the iPhone XS Max, but it’s still more expensive than the iPhone XS.
Unlike many Android phones, there’s no way to add additional storage via a microSD card. If you need extra storage you’ll need to add it via the company’s iCloud service or with a Lightning-compatible drive.
Apple won’t add any additional storage options down the road so you’re stuck with 64GB, 256GB and 512GB.
- This phone is unlocked and compatible with any carrier of choice on GSM and CDMA networks (e.g. AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, US Cellular, Cricket, Metro, Tracfone, Mint Mobile, etc.).
- Please check with your carrier to verify compatibility.
- When you receive the phone, insert a SIM card from a compatible carrier. Then, turn it on, connect to Wi-Fi, and follow the on screen prompts to activate service.
- The device does not come with headphones or a SIM card. It does include a generic (Mfi certified) charger and charging cable.
- Tested for battery health and guaranteed to have a minimum battery capacity of 80%.
Pay for Storage Now or Pay Later
Back when we reviewed the iPhone 8, we determined 64GB of storage isn’t enough space for many people. If you plan to shoot 4K video, download a bunch of movies for travel, or play lots of games, you’ll probably need additional space.
It has been over three years since we bought a 256GB iPhone X and we’ve managed to take up more than 150GB of internal storage. That’s well beyond the the 64GB threshold and over half of 256GB.
We aren’t storing any huge movie files or 4K videos on the phone. Instead, storage is mostly taken up by important apps, 1080p videos, photos, and music.
Many of you might be able to survive on a 64GB iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max, but many others will likely wind up having to pay additional money for additional storage.
If you do go with the cheaper 64GB option you’ll likely have to pay very close attention to your storage space and app usage as the months go on. Some of you might start nearing the threshold just weeks after buying the device.
If that happens, you’ll have to start getting rid of files you no longer want or, if you want to keep your data, buy an iCloud Storage Plan.
You also might have to rely on streaming movies and other content if you run out of space on your iPhone. This could lead to data overage charges and it might force you to buy a bigger data plan to better handle your needs. Like iCloud, these cost money.
Who Should Buy the 64GB iPhone XS
The 64GB iPhone XS/iPhone XS Max is the cheapest option. You’ll save money on the upfront cost of the phone and that’s pretty tempting given the price of the other variants. Here’s who should buy a 64GB iPhone XS:
- You stream most of your movies and music.
- You don’t plan to record a lot of 4K videos.
- You plan to store your photos in iCloud Photo Library or locally on a computer.
- You come nowhere close to using 64GB of storage on your current iPhone.
Who Should Buy the 256GB iPhone XS
Again, we’ve had a great experience with a 256GB iPhone and enjoy knowing that we can do virtually anything on the device without coming close to that 256GB mark. Here’s who should think about buying the 256GB model:
- You like to store lots of Movies and Music locally.
- You need or prefer to keep your photos stored locally.
- You plan to shoot tons of 4K video.
- You’re close to using 64GB of space on your current iPhone.
- You can’t stand having to constantly manage the data on your phone.
Who Should Buy the 512GB iPhone XS
The 512GB version of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max has the most storage, but it also costs a lot more. Most users should be fine with 256GB or 64GB, but there are some people who might enjoy the additional storage.
- Extreme power users.
- Photo buffs who don’t want to use iCloud.
- People who travel often and want everything local.
How to Check Your Storage
If you’re currently using an iPhone you’ll want to check your current storage before you decide on of the new iPhone XS options. Checking your storage can provide you with insight into your habits and needs.
Here’s how to do this:
- Tap on your Settings app.
- Tap on General.
- Tap on iPhone Storage.
If you’re in the right place you’ll be able to see how much free storage you currently have and how much you’re currently using. You can also see what’s taking up the most storage on your device.
For many of you, it’s going to be your photos, videos, apps, and if you’re not using Messages in iCloud, your iMessages.
Which iPhone XS Storage Size Should You Buy?
If you only plan to use the iPhone XS for a year before upgrading, there’s far less pressure to go with the bigger storage sizes. You can simply make do and upgrade to a larger model when the new models arrive next year.
If you don’t plan to upgrade your iPhone for a few years or more, the 256GB model (or 512GB if you really think you need it) is a safer bet.
You should be able to avoid paying for iCloud or spending additional money.
Install iOS 14.6 for Better Security
If security is important to you, think about installing iOS 14.6 right away.
iOS 14.6 brings 38 important security patches to the iPhone. If you're curious about the particulars, you can read about them right here.
If you skipped iOS 14.5.1, you get the update's two security patches on board. You can read about them over on Apple's website. Both are related to WebKit.
If you missed iOS 14.5 you'll get its patches with your upgrade. You can read more about those changes over on Apple's website.
iOS 14.5 also brought Apple's new App Tracking Transparency which lets you control which apps are allowed to track your activity across other companies' apps and websites for ads or sharing with data brokers.
If you skipped iOS 14.4.2, you get its security patch with iOS 14.6. You can learn more about that patch over on Apple's website as well.
If you missed iOS 14.4.1, you get its patch with your upgrade to iOS 14.6. You can read about that patch right here.
If you skipped iOS 14.4, you get the update's patches with your upgrade. You can learn more about iOS 14.4's security patches right here.
If you skipped iOS 14.3 you'll get its nine security updates with your upgrade. You can read more about them on its security site.
iOS 14.3 also included a new privacy information section on App Store pages that includes a developer-reported summary of the app’s privacy practices.
If you skipped iOS 14.2, your iOS 14.6 update includes 24 additional security patches. You can learn more about the patches on Apple's security website.
If you're still running iOS 13, iOS 14.6 includes iOS 14.0's security updates.
iOS 14.0 brought 11 new security patches to the iPhone. If you're interested in the exact nature of these improvements, you can read about them over on Apple's website.
In addition to those patches, iOS 14 comes with some security and privacy upgrades including improvements to Home/HomeKit and Safari.
For instance in Safari, you can now tap the Privacy Report button to better understand how websites handle your privacy.
With iOS 14 on board you can now get information on the App Store that will help you understand the privacy practices of apps before you download them.
There is also a new recording indicator that will appear at the top of your screen whenever an app is using your microphone or camera. You can see if an app has used them recently in Control Center.
Researchers also discovered that Apple brought a new "BlastDoor" sandbox security system to iOS 14. The system is meant to prevent attacks from occurring via the Messages app.
You can read more about "BlastDoor" right here.
Last update on 2020-12-15. This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to read our disclosure policy for more details. Images via Amazon API
This article may contain affiliate links. Click here for more details.