How to live with a 16GB iPhone or iPad (and not lose your mind)

Don't want to pay the exorbitant Apple tax to pick up an iPhone or iPad with more than 16GB of storage? Here's how to make your digital life fit into under 16 gigabytes of space.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

16 gigabytes of storage sounds like a lot, but as soon as you start to add apps and content, it quickly begins to feel small and poky. It's at this point that people start to regret not spending the extra money on a higher-capacity device.

But with a little bit of thought and planning, you can make it so that 16 gigabytes of storage is adequate. And I want you to know that I feel your pain. I am usually too thrifty to hand Apple hundreds of dollars in exchange for a few bucks worth of storage chips.

Here's how I squeeze the most out of my 16GB:

Rely on stock apps

Get used to using Mail, Calendar, Safari and such. These are on your device and you can't remove them so you might as well make use of them. Also, remember that anything else you download is just going to consume precious megabytes.

Cloud storage is your best friend

Whether that be iCloud, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive or whatever else takes your fancy, every megabyte you can move to the cloud is a megabyte saved.

Stream, don't store

If you have the bandwidth to handle streaming music and video, then this is another great way to save on storage. The flipside is that if you don't have unlimited internet access, streaming over broadband or cellular can get expensive.

Get your photos under control

Offload the bulk of your photos to a cloud storage provider. If you need to keep photos on your device then a great app to use is Photo Cleaner, which will allow you to delete and compress photos and video. For $0.99 you get the ability to compress an unlimited number of files.

Also, keep your photos simple. The Live Photos feature on the new handsets is particularly heavy on storage.

Delete unnecessary apps

Get rid of any apps that you don't use. If there's something you only use occasionally then remember that you can always redownload it from the Apple App Store.

No 4K video

High-resolution video is the fastest way to chew through storage. Unless you're using your iPhone to film the next Hollywood blockbuster then 1080p is good enough.

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Buy external storage

Did you know you can extend your iPhone or iPad storage without having to resort to a screwdriver? You can either buy a flash drive that will connect to your device's Lightning port or connect to an external storage device wirelessly.

Audit your storage

Go to Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage to see what's eating your storage. You might find some real surprises here (for example, innocuous things such as stored iMessage messages can eat up a crazy amount of space).

Alternatively, pay the Apple tax

If you're thinking about buying a new iPhone or iPad and you're already using a 16GB device that feels cramped, you might want to consider making the leap to jump to 64GB. This definitely makes sense if you don't have the freedom that unlimited broadband or cellular offers because you could end up spending more on moving data around than you're saving by sticking with a 16GB device.

See also:

2015: Must-have iPhone accessories

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