Smartphone Storage

Ever noticed that when you get a new smartphone the storage is never very accurate or you use

Ever noticed that when you get a new smartphone the storage is never very accurate or you use up the storage very quickly? In today’s blog we will be looking at how smartphones calculate their storage and guidelines on how much storage you need for phones and music.

How smartphone storage is calculated (the maths bit)

Smartphone StorageWhen you buy any type of data storage device, be it a USB drive, SD card or a new hard drive, it doesn’t always come with the exact amount of storage. This is because manufacturers say that 1 megabyte (MB) is equal to 1000 kilobytes (KB) whereas the exact amount of 1 MB that the computer sees is actually 1024 KB. Suppliers do this because it is easier and simpler to round to whole numbers.

So when a manufacturer says that a hard drive comes with 500 gigabytes (GB) of storage, then what they really mean is it comes with 500000000 KB, but the computer sees 500 GB as 524288000 KB and therefore the difference makes up the missing space.

When it comes to smartphones, however, you will have the same problem. In addition to this, the advertised space will also be taken up by the system and apps that come bundled with the phone, also known as bloatware. In phones where there is no expandable memory, this can be a problem. Even when you can upgrade the memory you should still be getting the storage that you paid for.

What free space do you actually get?

The following top three selling smartphones come with 16 GB of storage which also includes the system software. The following shows how much free space you actually get:
Smartphone Storage for iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and Sony Xperia

  • Apple iPhone 5S – 12.2 GB which is 76% of advertised
  • Sony Xperia Z1 – 11.43 GB which is 71% of advertised
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 – 8.56 GB which is 54% of advertised


Out of these three phones, the iPhone 5S is the only phone that doesn’t have an expansion slot for additional memory. Apple seem to understand that consumers need as little intrusion on storage space as possible and do this by keeping the OS size as small as possible. However, Apple are the most expensive when it comes to devices with increased storage capacity.

With the Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z1 you are able to boost the storage up to 64 GB with an SD card but why should you have to?

How much storage do I need for my smartphone?

Following are some approximate guidelines on who much storage you will need:

  • One full album of 10 songs at 5 minutes each will be around 90 MB.Smartphone storage, Apps, Music and Photos
  • Photos taken with a camera phones will be around 2 MB for an 8 megapixel picture.
  • Apps can vary drastically form 2 MB up to 400 MB, something like Angry Birds, however, is around 30 MB. So we can say at average that an app is around 50MB.

This means that the following 16 GB phones can hold around:

  • iPhone 5S – 1200 songs or 6000 photos or 240 apps
  • Sony Xperia Z1 – 1100 songs or 5500 photos or 220 apps
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 – 800 songs or 4000 photos or 160 apps

These figures are only approximates but provide a good guideline of your smartphones capacity.


In conclusion, you you never ever get the storage advertised. Therefore if you are considering buying a new smartphone, then we advise you

  1. Check how much free space you actually get,
  2. Approximately calculate how much storage you will need
  3. Always buy the biggest capacity phone you can afford according to your storage requirements

If you already have a smartphone and you are running out of storage, then there is not a lot you can do unless you have a memory expansion slot, so choose wisely.

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