Apple Should Have Killed The 16GB iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
Most high-end smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note5 start with an entry-level capacity of 32GB - except the iPhone. Since the iPhone 3GS, every iPhone starts at the base capacity of 16GB, and until last year’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the storage tiers were 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, with each bump in storage costing an additional $100 over the $650 entry price point. Last year however, Apple did away with the 32GB storage tier and instead introduced a 128GB sku priced the same as the previous year’s 64GB iPhone ($850 and $950 for the 6 and 6 Plus, respectively) So that means that the iPhone got a price drop, right? Not exactly.
If you were in the market for a 64GB iPhone, yes, you got a discount, because you essentially paid the price of the 32GB iPhone but got the 64GB iPhone. And if you were looking for the 32GB iPhone, you just scored double the capacity for no more than you were already willing to spend. So why am I complaining? Here’s why. For many people buying their first or even second smartphone, storage calculations may not be their strongest suit. If you’re not tech savvy or do not have any prior experience dealing with storage management on a phone, you may have a hard time figuring out what 16GB means in real-world use. You may not know that you don’t really have 16GB of space to store your photos, movies, apps, and books. See, a 16GB iPhone has somewhere around 10GB of user-accessible storage. That’s because the operating system and stock apps take up some of the space. And since Apple does not offer iOS devices with storage expansion slots, you cannot add storage once you run out of space on your iPhone.
I have an 8-year old son. I take a lot of pictures of him. I can’t imagine not being able to take a picture and missing a cute moment, simply because I do not have space on my iPhone. But unfortunately, that is the reality for many iPhone users. I know several people who have to delete apps off their iPhones before they can take pictures because they have run out of space. One friend tells me that when he gets the notification that there is not enough available space on his iPhone, he quits out of the camera app to look for a rarely used app to delete. And the sad part is that he’s not alone. When Apple released iOS 7 a few years ago, many people were unable to update their devices - without deleting pictures and videos off their iPhones. Precious memories that may or may not have been backed up.
You can argue that my friend and all these other people should have backed up their pictures, and you’d be right. But is that really the best solution? Apple prides itself of ease of use and simplicity, with tag lines like; “It just works”, yet its just not working. Sure they give users the miserly 5GB of free iCloud storage, but most don’t know how to use iCloud to back up their photos. Either that or the 5GB is not even enough to back up their phones to begin with.
Now I know that Apple has made some improvements regarding iCloud storage capacities by reducing prices. Here in the US, you can get 50GB of iCloud storage for $0.99/month. Its a step in the right direction but its not enough. And Apple knows that. Which is why they are introducing a new feature called App Thinning. This new feature will help trim the size of the apps you download onto your iOS device, this saving you room. They also committed to reducing the size of iOS updates from 4.6GB to 1.3GB. But all these features, while great at reducing the size of the downloads, are all band aid solutions to avoid the real issue, which is the paltry 16GB of capacity on iPhones. During an interview with John Gruber of Daring Fireball, Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller was posed this very question. Unfortunately, he skirted around and didn’t give any meaningful response.
Apple should not make it the responsibility of its customers to preempt future storage needs and thus, buy a phone with enough space to manage this future usage. It is unacceptable and rather unfortunate that a company with the resources that Apple has, and on a product that costs as much as the iPhone does - a product that is responsible for so much of Apple's revenue and profit - to ship with such miserly storage. This is their flagship product, their most profitable and their most successful product - Ever. Take away the space the OS and core apps (that you cannot delete) and you're left with about 10GB of free space. Flash storage is so cheap. A quick search on Amazon produced lots of 32G microSD cards for as low as $1.01! Yes, I know, the iPhone’s 128Gbit NAND flash chips are of a higher quality, but I highly doubt that a 64GB chip costs Apple anywhere near the $100 premium they charge. Certainly, if someone is making and selling these cards at these prices and turning some type of a profit (I doubt it), how come Apple can't ship phones with 32GB as the starter capacity?
Now I'm sure that the 16GB exists if not for any reason, to force people to pay $100 more to upgrade. And after the iPhone 6 skipped the 32GB tier, there is now more of a reason to pay up, but why force people to upgrade? I have so much love, respect and admiration for this company. That they still make 16GB phones for $650 and $750 is very un-Apple-like. Apple is the company that makes a big deal about customer experience and exciting their users. 16GB is bad customer experience. People who are on a tight budget and don't know how little space is actually available on a 16GB phones are the ones who will suffer next year when they're forced to delete pictures and apps to make space for an iOS update.
Apps are getting bigger and people are taking more and more pictures with their smartphones. Apple crows about the iPhone being the most popular camera at every event. And now the new iPhone 6s camera shoots at 12 megapixels, records a 3-second video clip with each picture and it also has a 4K video camera. How long of a video can you record in 4K before you run out of space on your 16GB iPhone? This is a disgrace, really. We are about to enter 2016. If Samsung, HTC, LG and other Android OEMs can manage to ship flagship smartphones (that cost less that the iPhone) with a minimum storage of 32GB, why can’t Apple do the same thing? Now we are stuck with it for one more year, if not longer. An iPhone at 16GB is all but useless and a shame, and should die already.