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Don't buy the 16GB Apple iPhone 6s

4K video, Live Photos, bigger apps, and ludicrous price per GB make it a ripoff.

Thanks in large part to the 3D Touch technology and my desire to continue using my Apple Watch I pre-ordered an Apple iPhone 6s Plus. I did not order a 16GB model and looking at the price/GB, 4K video size, impact of Live Photos, and possible iOS app size the only logical reason Apple is offering the 16GB model is profit.

Prior to the Apple iPhone 6s announcement ZDNet's Kevin Tofel wrote that it was likely Apple would still start at 16GB for the base model. This rumor turned out to be true and I completely agree with Kevin about the reason behind it.

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It's not necessarily profit on the 16GB model, but the profit gained by essentially forcing people to the 64GB model when they realize how much of a ripoff the 16GB model is. Let's take a closer look at why no one should consider the 16GB model.

  • Price per GB is ludicrous: iMore put together a succinct price per GB table of the new iPhone 6s models. The 16GB models are $40.56/GB for the 6s and $46.81/GB for the 6s Plus. The 64GB models drop to $11.70 and $13.27, respectively, with the 128GB models at $6.63 and $7.41. The 16GB model is a terrible value.
  • Live Photos consume double the storage: The Live Photos feature looks fun, even if HTC did it years ago, and is enabled by default. TechCrunch reports Live Photos consume double the storage space of a single photo. HTC's Zoe used to create 20 photos so double is less, but still too much for a 16GB model.
  • iOS consumes a portion of the 16GB: Until we see the reviews, we don't know for sure how much iOS will consume. Owners will likely see only 10GB to 12GB available for their use.
  • 4K video consumes 300MB for each minute: I have 4K video support on my Android devices and never use it since I don't have a 4K display to view it. However, it's a new feature of the iPhone 6s and people will try it out. Assuming a generous 12GB of available storage, someone could record about 40 minutes of 4K video and load nothing else on their iPhone 6s.
  • App size could be 4GB: ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes wrote about the maximum allowable app size that was increased from 2GB to 4GB earlier this year. Infinity Blade III is about 2GB and it's likely we will soon see games push up to the 4GB limit.
  • Offline movies consume lots of storage: If you commute or travel and enjoy offline TV shows or movies, you can see these shows run from 300MB to multiple GBs in size. Amazon just released support for offline Amazon Prime Videos, but don't plan on watching much if you buy the 16GB iPhone 6s.

With the US subsidized phone model, millions of people went into their carrier store and bought the lowest price iPhone. Many of these people thought their iPhone was $100 or $200, but we've talked about that myth several times before and won't go into that again.

Against my recommendation, and in order to save $100, several family members have purchased the 8GB or 16GB older base models over the last couple of years. Every single one of them has come to me over the past year asking why they keep getting low storage warnings and expressing frustrations with running out of storage capacity since they all use the iPhone as their primary camera.

Apple's official statement is that a 16GB makes the phone more affordable for the consumer and cloud storage is a viable solution. At a base price of $649, no iPhone can be considered affordable. Cloud storage works for some, but it's still not adopted by the masses and to get a reasonable cloud capacity it is going to still cost you extra money.

Given the unique new Apple-managed iPhone Upgrade Program, consumers will be able to pay for their iPhone 6s in monthly installments. This makes the pain of buying the 64GB (about $5/month more) or 128GB (about $10/month more) model a bit less so it should be easier for consumers to make the jump to the 64GB model.

If Apple offered the base model with 32GB then it is likely this would be the most popular model available and Apple wouldn't be able to upsell people to the next model. It's a good strategy for shareholders and Apple's profitability, but it is definitely not consumer friendly.