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16GB: a valiant yet doomed exercise

I went into it with good intentions. It made sense, or at least it did in my iPhone 6 Plus-addled brain.

I wanted the big phone (now, we know that was too big) and I wanted it yesterday. There was just one problem, and a common one following any iPhone launch – there weren’t many around. In fact, the only one I could find was bottom of the tree. The minnow. The poor cousin with only 16GB of space. Bless it. Could I? Could I really go for that one?

Prior to the 6 Plus, I’d enjoyed the all-conquering, packed to the rafters 64GB models of Apple’s diminutive smartphones. I never ran out of space. Ever. As a result, I never thought about what I installed or transferred to my phone – whatever it was, it’d fit, I instinctively knew.

Then along came iCloud. And streaming music services. And the new Photos app, which promised to retain everything in the cloud and keep ‘device optimised’ versions of commonly-accessed photos on your phone. Brilliant, I thought. Perhaps 16GB will be fine.

So, I went for it. And you know what? It was fine, for a good six months. I streamed my music, took the odd photo, installed a few apps and my shiny new device didn’t so much as creak.

I did get into a habit with which I wasn’t previously familiar, though; I regularly checked the amount of storage space remaining. It became a bit of an obsession. Before installing apps or on waking up in the morning, I’d head into Settings and see what remained. How full was the glass? Was I in danger of hitting the buffer?

For a long time, it seemed like only a marginal threat, with free space hovering around the 3-4GB mark. But that soon changed – oddly – when Apple became more cloud focused.

I should highlight that I’m not a heavy iPhone user. Not in any way shape or form. I take photos occasionally (although much of this is reserved for Instagram, and I turn off the ability for shots to be saved on the phone), I don’t have a roster of graphically-intensive games and I don’t store any music, podcasts or other media locally. I’m using the iPhone as it was intended – an internet communication device. For content, I look to the web and Apple’s servers.

I also don’t blame Apple for retaining the 16GB version. We all gotta eat, and not everyone has deep pockets for a mobile telephone. 16GB, I would wager, is probably the most popular derivative; I know of very few iPhone-owning friends and family who own anything larger than that. If it sells, keep making it. And the birth of iCloud should ensure such a device is still relevant.

Unfortunately, it appears we’re not quite there. I wrote on this very blog recently about my less than satisfactory experience with the new Photos platform. Again, this is a development which is entirely valiant on Apple’s part, but the execution has left me rather cold. Why do photos take up so much space on my phone when I rarely access them?

As a result, I eagerly await today’s iPhone announcement and confirmation of the pre-order date, for I will be plumping for either the 64GB or 128GB model to replace my bursting 6 Plus. Will Apple up the base level storage? I very much doubt it. They’re a bit odd like that and it is one of the few remaining areas in which they will simply not listen to anyone outside of their four walls. Clearly, 16GB offers favourable margins and, as I said earlier – if it sells, carry on making it.

For me, I simply can’t bear another ‘can’t take photo’ message due to a lack of available storage. I tried, Apple. I really did.

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