Buyer’s guide. How to choose the right amount of memory in your smartphone


How do you know how much memory you need in your smartphone? The question itself seems childish and frivolous, because the answer is so simple and lies on the surface. But behind this simplicity, there are pitfalls that almost no one thinks about. Several events served as the impetus for this material. On a business trip, I talked with the owners and managers of cell stores, in the conversation a moment came to light that it is the choice of the amount of memory that becomes a stumbling block for many buyers and it takes a lot of time. For stores, this means having to offer at least two variants of the same smartphone, one with basic storage and one with extended storage.

Another conversation was with a friend, she bought a phone for her mother as a gift, asked for advice. She recommended the basic Galaxy A51, but she decided to get the 128GB model to “have enough storage for years to come.” Finally, a conversation with a friend who was choosing between the 12GB or 128GB iPhone 256 Pro Max. The topic comes up from time to time, and, therefore, it’s time to share some thoughts about this.

How much memory is in your smartphone, memory card

The cost of a mistake when choosing a particular version of an Android smartphone is not so great, since you can always use memory cards, most devices support them. Even if you miss initially, you can partially correct your mistake. But here you need to understand that not all applications allow you to save all files to a memory card, this does not always have a positive effect on the speed of work, so here it is worth paying attention. Some flagships on Android do not support memory cards, as well as in the iPhone, so the right choice here becomes even more important. True, for Android smartphones, as a rule, there is enough memory installed that will be enough for your eyes, and you will not notice any flaws.

Buyer's guide. How to choose the right amount of memory in your smartphoneBuyer's guide. How to choose the right amount of memory in your smartphone

The memory in a smartphone is needed not only so that you can store applications, photos, music and other content in it, but also for the operation of the system itself. Initially, the operating system takes up some amount of memory on your device, therefore, when buying a smartphone with 128 GB of memory, you cannot count on the fact that all of it will be free.

Buyer's guide. How to choose the right amount of memory in your smartphone

Neither Android nor iOS can take up the entire memory of the phone, as this will slow down the work, some functions will not work at all. The general rule of thumb is that 6-8 GB of free memory is ideal, this will avoid any problems. To clog the memory to the eyeballs is harmful, since you will get a lot of problems and you will definitely not be happy with your device. Most of those who complain about slow Android, as a rule, do just that – they scavenge all the memory without a trace and do not understand what they are doing wrong.

In my opinion, in order to understand how much memory you need, you must first assess what you are doing on your smartphone, how much memory you have today. Go to the appropriate section and see how much you are busy with. If your device is 1-3 years old, and the amount of free memory is about half, then you are most likely a “light” user, mostly making calls, texting in messengers, and occasionally taking pictures. Using a smartphone as a phone and a means of communication, you do not load the memory with applications, as a result, the choice is as simple as possible for you – the same amount of memory or more due to the fact that even in basic models the amount of built-in memory is constantly growing. A couple of years ago, the flagships had 64 GB of memory, today it is 128 GB (iPhone 12 is the only exception).

But let’s look at an ordinary person who does not differ in the craving for content consumption, watching movies on the phone, but occasionally takes pictures, records video. Oddly enough, my friend’s mom fits this description perfectly. She calls, communicates in instant messengers, watches something on the net or on YouTube. An aged woman, but with great pleasure, takes pictures of family holidays, walks and also shoots videos of significant events. Its memory consumption does not look linear, it does not fill up with something every day. It was a birthday, and part of my memory was taken away by photographs and videos. The process is gradual, not very fast. But here it is important to understand that she is not ready to delete photos and videos of the family, for her this is a value. And there is no other content. Alternatively, children can help upload all photos and videos to the cloud, but in the future it will not be free (the same Google Photo from June 2021 will charge money for this, and this is the first sign).

It’s good if you are there when the phone memory is full, but what if not? Remotely explaining how to clear memory and what can be deleted is always problematic. Therefore, it is worth making it a rule to look at what is happening on such a device, and take care that the memory does not run out (including, perhaps, transferring files to a memory card or adding it).

In my opinion, in 2021 it is worth focusing on 64 GB of memory and keeping in mind the use of a memory card in the future for such users, it looks like a rational approach. At the same time, you can install a memory card of virtually any size (it costs 128 GB or more, here the choice is yours, but for older people, focus on the manufacturer and its quality, the speed of the card does not matter). Let’s conventionally call these users our grandmothers, they are people from 60 and older. For them, this amount of memory in most cases will be sufficient.

The average smartphone user in 2021

We are all unique, and the word “ordinary” cannot characterize a person, but a smartphone is a universal subject. Most smartphone users use their capabilities by a third, or even less. Although in words it turns out that everyone squeezes the maximum possible out of their device, requires maximum productivity, working time – after all, money has been paid for this. But if you discard your own often erroneous ideas about yourself, then the picture will be quite simple. Most people constantly use a little more than a dozen applications, store their files on the phone (photos, videos, sometimes movies and TV shows).

Let’s try to imagine that you record a video occasionally. And here it all comes down to what quality you choose for this. For example, one minute of video in 4K resolution takes about 350-400 MB (H.264 codec, when using HEVC, almost half the size). For the same iPhone, this is the maximum resolution, which means that three minutes of recording will give you 1 GB of memory space. With this resolution, the maximum video recording time will be about three hours for the 64 GB model. Not very much, right? Therefore, any person who records video at least several times a year or suspects that he can do so should think about models with a memory capacity of 128 GB or more (as an option, with support for memory cards).

Photos do not take up much memory, for example, on my Z Fold2 I have about 4000 shots over several months, they took up almost 18 GB of space.

Buyer's guide. How to choose the right amount of memory in your smartphone

I am sure that most of the people do not photograph as much as it happens in my case. See how many photos you have in your gallery, how much space they take, how long it took you to take them. And conclusions can be drawn independently.

Having dealt with photos and videos, you need to focus on music and films, podcasts will also be attributed to music. Everything is quite simple here, if you watch movies and TV series on your phone, then expect that one season, consisting of 8-10 episodes, will take 5-8 GB of space in good quality. It is also worth keeping in your head such a rarity these days as a vacation trip, usually people download series for several weeks in advance (15-20 GB for this fly away with a bang). Music in normal quality (I’m not saying anything about uncompressed formats, that’s another story) will take you a couple of gigabytes, and if you want to keep your entire collection, then put 5-6 GB of space. But why do that if you have streaming? It is worth keeping only what you listen to more or less constantly.

My experience is that in 2021-2022, 128 GB of internal memory in a smartphone will be enough for most people, this is a sufficient amount. Most flagships have exactly this amount of memory. Interestingly, in 2020, sales of the iPhone 11 were indicative of the amount of memory buyers chose, let me remind you that for this model it is 64, 128 and 256 GB. The iPhone 3 1 GB was sold with a margin of 11 to 128, that is, people consciously chose more memory and paid for it. Something similar is happening in the market for Android smartphones that cost from 30 thousand rubles and more, people choose a memory capacity of 128 GB.

Those who like to play heavy games should look at 128 GB and above, but with one caveat – if there are a lot of such games. Gradually, the memory requirements are growing, and after a couple of years the distribution of the game can weigh 20-30 GB, buying a device for growth, you need to remember this. On the other hand, usually those who play buy flagships, where the memory issue has already been resolved in favor of the maximum volume.

For the market in 2021, the golden mean is the volume of internal memory of 128 GB. Those who know that they record a lot of video, install applications with a large amount of data (cartography no longer applies to them) should look at devices with a large memory size. There were already 1 TB devices on the market, but they were not in great demand. Moreover, studies have shown that such a volume is excessive, only a third of this volume remains occupied, and only a few manage to fill the memory to the eyeballs with their photos and videos (nothing else).

The fact that you can install memory cards on Android, including fast and large ones, gives you the freedom to choose. But for those who are looking for really large amounts of storage and are an advanced user, SSD drives that can be directly connected to a smartphone can be advised. I have such 2 TB SSDs, I store archives from phones on them. At the same time, I do not feel a lack of memory in smartphones themselves, I always have enough space.

What conclusions can be drawn from this material? First and foremost: the choice of the amount of memory is always yours, you need to evaluate how you use your smartphone, how much memory is occupied today. And do not forget that all new features, such as 4K / 8K video, require a different amount of memory. The same is true for new applications, their size is gradually growing, given the growth of memory in mobile devices.

I don’t think it’s worth saving on memory. If possible, then buy today a volume of 128 GB, it is available for most modern models. But if you don’t want to save at all, then take 256 GB (as an option, 512 GB, but this amount is redundant for almost everyone).

Tell us in the comments how much memory is in your device (main and memory card), how old it is and how much is occupied. And most importantly, how much storage space you need in your next device. Thank.

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