New iPhone 5c Actually Has Just 6.5GB of Usable Storage

Take Apple’s advice and consider “larger storage capacity” if you want much stuff

If you’re thinking “now’s the time to get me that iPhone 5c,” think how much storage you actually need before you place your order. Also, if you regularly update your firmware over the air, prepare to be disappointed.

Today, Apple started marketing a new version of the iPhone 5c boasting just 8GB of on-board flash memory for a more attractive price, giving some users an incentive to finally pluck some dollars.

The discount isn’t mind-boggling: just 60 Pounds in Britain, and around €70 across Europe. Australia and China are also getting the cheaper phone, while the United States surprisingly isn’t. But that’s a different story.

What we’re here to discuss is the 8GB storage capacity advertised by Apple, and the real storage capacity of the phone once you switch it on. Apple and its competitors don’t (necessarily) hide this from the public, but suffice to say they don’t make it too obvious either.

Ever noticed that small asterisk or “1” always clinging to the storage capacity next to your selected iPhone model? Yeah, scroll down to the bottom of the page where Apple tells you that “1GB = 1 billion bytes; actual formatted capacity less.”

Well, that amounts to 7.81GB. Hardly an issue. Do the math and it’s still pretty close to 8GB of storage that the phone had on board. What may present an issue – for users who plan on storing a lot of media and apps – is the actual OS and the subsequent OTA updates.

iOS 7, for instance, weighs in at around 1.3GB, which (again) shaves off that amount from your 8GB of total storage. Essentially, your brand new 8GB iPhone 5c actually has 6.5GB of on-board memory to be used for apps, photos, videos, music, etc. And that’s conservative. The expanded (installed) iOS 7 IPSW probably takes up even more space than that.

Then there’s the OTA updates. Apple demands that customers supply at least twice the normal amount of storage to install an update over the air. An example of what happens when you don’t have enough storage is available in the screenshot above (click for full view).

Which brings me to Apple’s winning advice branded right on the page of the iPhone 5c: “... if you have a large music or photo library or you frequently download HD films, it’s a good idea to consider an iPhone with a larger storage capacity [...] over time you will accumulate many things on your iPhone, so you’ll want to think about how your storage needs may evolve.”

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