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How Much Space is Enough Space?

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!