There's little doubt that Apple's decision to stick 16GB of storage in the base iPhone or iPad is a cynical ploy to squeeze an extra hundred bucks out of consumers. While most people should spend the extra cash to avoid this model, for some 16GB will more than enough storage.
So, let's cut to the chase. You're ready to pull the trigger on a new iPhone or iPad purchase but you're wondering if you can cheap out and get the 16GB model. Answer these simple questions to find out.
Are you a developer?
If yes, and you're not developing multiple multi-gigabyte apps, then 16GB is probably more than enough for you. You probably don't store photos or video on your test device, and you more than likely wipe it on a regular basis so as to keep is streamlined.
Do you manage your photos and video well?
If yes, then you're the sort of person who needs a lot less space than people who kludge up their devices with thousands of photos and video. Back when I owned a 16GB iPhone I used to manage my data a lot better than I do now I have a 64GB iPhone (now my device is full of meme GIFs and junk).
Is it a corporate device?
Devices used for business - even BYOD - have a lot less junk on them than regular devices and I routinely see people managing with 16GB (especially iPads).
You're already managing happily on 16GB
Check out how much space you're using on your existing device (on iOS go Settings > General > About and scroll down to Available). If you're managing OK with 16GB already, then why blow the extra cash on more storage.
You're on a limited budget and want an iPhone
This is a tricky spot. If you really want the latest and greatest and your budget only stretches to a 16GB model, then you have to cut your cloth accordingly.
Alternative solutions might be to buy an older device or pick up a second-hand device (there will be plenty flooding the market shortly).
Some other things to bear in mind
- The new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus incorporate more storage-hungry features such as Live Photos and 4K video. These will burn through 16GB very fast unless you manage your data well.
- iOS 9 is gentler on your storage space and needs less free space for installation.
- If you buy the wrong iPhone, Apple has a 14-day returns policy (returns policy from carriers vary).
- It can be hard to predict your future storage needs, especially if you plan on keeping the device for a few years. This may be when investing an extra $100 in storage might be worth the money as it will put off a premature upgrade.