Is 16GB of onboard storage already too little?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| April 26, 2014


Storage is a peculiar thing, isn’t it? No matter how far we’ve come when it comes to storage, it almost always feels like we don’t have enough. Perhaps it’s because we’re always finding new ways to use up that storage with apps, videos, pictures, and music; or maybe it’s that some manufacturers can take up nearly half of your internal storage with their custom UI (not naming any names, Samsung). Regardless of the reason, though, storage seems to be one of the more pored over features when it comes to smartphones. Lately, I’m starting to notice a small push away from the 16GB models, which is the typical lowest amount of internal storage offered in most flagships today. 


Is 16GB really that low, though?


I feel like the answer is pretty simple. As somebody who isn’t exactly a power user anymore, I find that 16GB of internal memory really isn’t enough to get me by. I can’t figure out why we still carry 16GB models at this point. On the one hand, it would seem that it would keep smartphone costs down. On the other hand, memory doesn’t seem like it would cost that much money to implement these days. Wasn’t it just last year that the HTC One only offered 32 and 64GB models for your typical $199 and up price range? Yes, it did. So why is it that this year they went backwards to a 16GB model? Even with microSD card support, it seems like a silly move.


I suppose what’s even more mysterious is why OEMs like Samsung (among others - they're not alone) insist on selling 16GB models as well, especially given their track record of TouchWiz taking up a pretty decent chunk of that memory. And again, yeah, they offer microSD card support as well, but it’s the principle of the thing. They’ll tell you you’re getting 16GB of internal storage, but how much of that is actually going to be usable? With the Galaxy S5, you’re missing 4.4GB of that storage due to TouchWiz, so you’re already missing a quarter of that memory in the first place. It wouldn’t make as big of a dent in a phone with 32GB of storage at least.


And then you pretty much have every other flagship phone out there who sell 16GB models, who generally don't support microSD anymore and banks on cloud storage to get you by should you run low on space. It might work for some people, but I personally am not thrilled with the idea of using cloud storage.


Most people don’t upgrade their phone that often, so 16GB of storage does seem like a bit of a stretch to make it through your typical two year agreement. That’s two years’ worth of photos, videos, music, applications, and saved data at your fingertips. Realistically, even as a casual user you’ll be lucky if you can fit all of that in that 16GB phone for that entire duration without having to dump off media to your computer and start clean. Personally, I like having all of my files and photos available when I want.


Even now, I’ve had my 32GB Moto X for about 2 months at this point and I’ve already used about 10GB of my available storage (26.33GB). Aside from texting, Netflix, and the occasional social networking, I really am a rather casual smartphone user at this point. The fact that I can burn 10GB of memory in just two months’ time just goes to show that the 16GB model probably deserves to be bumped off and replaced by 32 and 64GB models.


Until, you know, that doesn't cut it either.


Readers, what are your feelings on 16GB models? Do you think they’re sufficient enough on their own, or should manufacturers start focusing on 32 and 64GB models being the new “must have” internal memory allotments? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Image via Silicon Station