In light of the response I got when I asked “how much space is enough on a phone” in a previous post, I thought I would be express my opinions in a full post instead of replying in the comments with my own huge comment.  From reading the comments, readers here have a wide range of opinions on how much space is “needed”.  Of course it’s all subjective, since different users have different needs.  But where should manufacturers draw the line?  When is it just not enough, and when does it become impractical to put more space?

For me personally I prefer at least 32GB of storage.  At least a few of you will gawk at this.  32GB is the largest amount of built-in storage available in any consumer phone today, so I must suffer from hardware gluttony right?  While this my also be true, I want to defend my stance on 32GB.  A phone is not just a phone anymore, and I don’t treat my phones as such for that very reason.  I expect it to provide me with apps for organization and general productivity enhancement, entertainment in the form of music, videos, and games, and a camera/video recorder.  All of these additional functions requires extra space, some requiring more than others.  I think the majority of you will agree with me here since the poll shows 40% wanting at least 16GB and 60% saying they need at least 32GB like me.

Lets take a look at apps first,  apps can run anywhere from a few MB to several hundred MB a piece.  I think allocating 250MB of space for just apps in not unreasonable.  Moving on, we have music.  My library currently consists of about 8,000 songs at a total size of about 39GB.  If I shrink the files AAC@128kbps(I’m not that much of a music snob) I can squeeze enough songs into 5-8GB to get by.  I’m more picky about video however.  I hate pixelization or other defects I can notice.  My videos usually take up about 200-500MB/hr of video.  I like to have enough options on my phone that I can watch whatever I feel like so 10-15GB is what I usually leave for video.

Games anyone?  Microsoft is pushing the Xbox branding onto WP7 and this means games will be more graphical(or at least we all hope they will be) than not.  As a result, competitors will have to take similar steps, lest they risk falling behind.  More graphics equals more data which translates into bigger files.  PSP games can go as high as 4GB per game.  While I doubt games on WP7 will be that high anytime this year, I would not be surprised if they hit the 1GB mark.  That being said, 2-3GB for games seems about right.  WP7 requires a minimum 5MP camera.  Android already has 5 and 8MP cameras out.  All those high density sensors soak up a lot of storage space too.  And let’s not forget about 720P recording nowadays!  These two combined can easily fill 2-5GB. 

All in all, my total rings up to be 21.25GB-33.25GB.  My N97 had 32GB built-in with a separate 8GB microSD slotted in, yet I managed to run out of space on more than one occasion.  So for me 32GB is what I want but 16GB is the bare minimum.

As for expandable memory, not many phones come with 32GB built in. And of those that do, I can think of none other than my N97 that also comes with an expansion slot.  When manufacturers put an expansion slot, they generally skimp on the internal memory.  Why? because they can get away with it!  They just put "supports UP TO 32GB MicroSD cards" on the spec sheet and call it a day.  More people than you think will look at that and think "oh, it has 32GB of space", and for those of us that know better, we have no alternative since they are all playing the same game with us.  I think that is why MS decided to move away from removable storage.  This will cut down on extra costs to consumers.  Look at the EVO 4G, it comes with a 8GB card and, at launch, was priced to competitively with the iPhone 4.  Yet if you wanted the 32GB of space like you would on the iPhone you would have to plunk down extra coinage.  That extra card would bring your grand total above that of the iPhone, yet manufacturers and carriers don’t market their products that way.  So props to MS for getting rid of expandable memory, even though I’m going to miss it.  Too bad they couldn’t just enforce a minimum amount of built-in space, but that would get too complicated since it would have to be constantly revised.  I hope to see manufacturers competing with each other on storage size in the near future so we can get some 64GB units out there next year.  That would be heaven for me.

What do you think?  Have I gone off the deep end?  Or does this make a vague amount of sense?  Where did I go wrong in my evaluation?  Did I miss something important?  Let me know in the comments!

6 COMMENTS

  1. Couldn’t agree more, this is more than just a phone and the minimum amount of storage should be adjusted to reflect that notion.

  2. I generally agree, but will disagree on the notion of no user-replaceable storage. The phones are using a microSD card, something that anyone can buy. You can get a 32GB one for a relatively low price compared to where we used to be. I’d rather have had the card placed under the battery or somewhere else with a nice, clear warning label that indicated that replacing that card would result in a hard-reset of your phone and the need to restore everything. That way if the manufacturer decides to put in an 8GB card, you can immediately upgrade it to something more useful (and reasonable as this article points out).

    I also have a pretty large mp3 collection and with the coming games/apps, 16GB is going to be somewhat tight. I want to replace my existing MP3 player with WP7 and will likely load up a large portion of my MP3s for travelling purposes. Add in apps, photos, videos, games, and so on and I’m going to be running out of storage pretty quickly even with 16GB.

    As things stand, I hope that the manufacturers do compete with storage in mind or that companies like PPCTechs (still around?) can come up with some upgrade process that gets around whatever measures the manufacturers are taking to fix the memory cards in place.

    In any case, I was glad to hear that the LG device didn’t go with the minimum requirements. Still wish they’d maxed it out, but I guess everyone is testing the waters for initial release.

  3. Don’t think I would ever need more than 16GB (still have 2.5GB free on my 8GB card). But hey I would love to see 32, 64 ot moreGB of stable memory built in to my future phone. It all comes down to price though.These memory chips add to the cost which is always a factor in a very competitive market.

    I thought that built-in plus SD add-on was a good model, so user “A” could live with the 16GB built-in chip while user “B” could add another 32GB card (and spend the cash to do it) satisfying the cost conscious and power user at the same time. I guess Microsoft sees it differently.

    I do dislike how things seem to be evolving into the iPhone mantra. I suppose fixed, non-removable batteries are next. Don’t think either of these concepts are forward thinking. Again, Microsoft had it right a long time ago. The OS needed a major face lift (more like reconstructive surgery) but don’t change only for the sake of change.

  4. ive never needed more than 8gb myself, however i do not listen to music on my phone because i like to use my OG Zune. I might change if i get a phone with a 3.5mm jack in it. i would love it if the phone would have 16gb onboard and an expandable sd slot for quickly transfering data without syncing the phone. i use my sd card slot on my netbook ALOT for transfering files because its just drag and drop and im done. I feel like having another drive also allows more room for customization. who knows maybe having an external drive will allow intelligent devs to find loopholes in the phones and non oem software updates might be easier.. im no dev myself so i have no clue what im saying.. just thinking outloud i guess.

  5. While I’m not oppsed to MS requiring at least 8GB internal memory I think what would stand out from Apple would be the fact there is an expandable memory slot. This would be the deciding factor for alot of people who are on the fence so to speak. Oh, ran out of memory on your Iphone? Tough! delete some stuff and keep it moving fella!!

    I also think many people don’t really complain about buying an extra storage card. To me, it’s like buying any other accessory really. If you want it, you’ll get it.

    I do want MS to change it’s stance on the expandable memory and I hope they do it before someone else(Apple) does it.

  6. Well said, and definitely a good marketing strategy. But as it was nixed from Gen1 WP7 devices, it think it will be difficult to add it to Gen2, and make everthing backward compatible (that fragmentation think again).

    Now it will be up to OEM’s to figure out how ot include 32 or 64GB built-in, without driving up the base cost of handsets. Good luck with that one.

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