Choosing Memory and Data Plans for Your iPhone/iPad

The iPhone 5 has three different internal memory options: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. The iPad with retina display has four: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. What do those numbers really mean and how is that memory used?

First, there is the required operating system called iOS 6 which uses almost 1GB of your memory. Then there are the apps that come with the iPhone/iPad or that you add to your device as you begin exploring all the productive and fun ways you can use it. Most apps use less than 50MB of storage each, which means that twenty to thirty apps will use up about 1GB of memory. It’s the apps that store data, photos, video and music that take up the most memory. How much memory? Conservatively, 1GB can hold approximately 125 songs OR 6 minutes of recorded video OR 250 photographs. On my own 64GB iPhone 5, I have about 36 apps, 332 photos, 51 songs, 5 audio books and a dozen PDF documents. I’ve only used about 10GB so far and have 52GB of remaining, unused memory.

Because the iPad can be a more multi-purpose and multi-media device due to the larger screen, it is more important to purchase an iPad with excess memory. It’s easier to film videos and watch movies or TV shows with an iPad, but video requires a lot of memory. A downloaded full-length movie will use about 5GB of memory.

Below is a guideline to help you determine which kind of user you would be for an iPhone or an iPad. Remember that it’s always better to have extra memory than not enough.

Examples of iPhone/iPad Memory Usage

Typical 16GB User Typical 32GB User Typical 64GB User Typical 132GB User
50 apps 50 – 100 apps 100+ apps Uses the iPad as a laptop replacement.
5 – 10 minutes of recorded video 1 hour of recorded video 2 – 3 hours of recorded video
200 songs 1000 songs 1000+ songs
300 photos 1000 photos 1000+ photos
Uses several productivity apps that store documents, such as Evernote, DropBox and JotNot Pro Uses productivity apps, creates and stores hundreds of documents and spreadsheets
1 – 2 movies downloaded Downloads multiple movies and TV shows to watch later
Uses 1 – 3 game apps Multiple game apps

Data Plan Calculation

After you determine the memory you will need in your new iPhone or iPad, you need to select a data plan. Data plans come in lots of different sizes. Verizon’s website has an excellent guide and calculator to help you determine how much data you will use in a month and you don’t have to be a Verizon customer to use their calculator. Click here for some good guidelines from Verizon and the link to their calculator. Even with the calculator as a guide, most people really don’t know how much they will access the internet when they don’t have WiFi available. My recommendation is to start small and monitor your data usage with text or email alerts when you’re approaching your monthly data plan limit. You can set these alerts up online with your cell service and easily increase your plan at anytime.

If you haven’t downloaded my free guide “10 Cool Tips to Make Your iPhone Easier to Use,” enter your name and email address in the top right. You’ll get my tips and email updates no more than once a week about my articles. My goal is to help you save time with your devices – not clutter your inbox or waste your time!


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