Storage, Porridge: iOS 11 Update a Storage Strikeout for 16GB iPhones

Every iPhone update comes with some excitement. The new iOS 11 consolidates many of the main menu features — brightness, volume, bluetooth, flashlight — onto one screen, so users no longer have to swap back and forth for various settings.

However, widespread criticism of the update laments the inability for users of a 16GB iPhone to have enough storage space for existing content, as well as the new update. The update requires 2.03GB. For many, clearing up this kind of storage might mean ridding their device of every photo and video, or erasing their entire inbox of text messages.

Hopeful upgraders can utilize the file storage and sharing software tool iCloud to temporarily manage and store data while the phone updates. Afterward, however, they may not be able to reload as much content as they previously had.

File storage and sharing tools also have their limitations, depending on your willingness to pay. The first 5GB is free, but anything surpassing that incurs a monthly cost that can be shared between devices on a family plan. Consider it a storage unit of sorts for your digital belongings. The largest unit of storage is 2TB. (In comparison, Google Drive gives users their first 15GB of content for free.)

On G2 Crowd’s Grid® for File Storage and Sharing Fall 2017, user satisfaction scores for Storage Limits and Storage Zones (tied with Device Management, and Policies and Controls) on average both rated lowest out of other administration features at 87 percent. iCloud’s storage ratings were n/a due to a lack of sufficient user reviews. Google Drive users rated their product’s storage limits at an 84 percent satisfaction.

READ: Is Google’s Customer Support an Issue?

We can infer from this data — and the barrage of angry tweets that appear to anyone who searches the hashtag #iOS11 — that users want more storage openly available to them. That, for their loyalty to specific, expensive devices (the upcoming iPhone 8 will cost just shy of a grand), users would appreciate that same loyalty extended back to them.

Granted, those who purchase iPhones choose at checkout whether they want 16GB, 64GB, or soon enough, 256GB. It’s another money game. The argument goes that those wishing to skirt around this issue come update season should have gone for the more expensive purchase when they initially bought into the phone.

Built-in memory expansion isn’t a feature iPhones offer.

“In order to increase the storage capacity of a mobile phone, the phone needs to include a slot for removable storage media like an SD card or MemoryStick,” reads the April 2017 article by Sam Costello of Lifewire. “The iPhone has no slot for removable storage (the iPhone is famous for including as few additional ports and slots as possible; this may also be related to why its battery isn’t user replaceable).”

So by the end of that two-year contract — when users have accumulated precious footage of family weddings and vacations, or downloaded an app for everything under the sun — they’re stuck with the same amount of storage they had when they opted in.

iPhone is unapologetically itself, removing home buttons and concocting glass back screens as teenagers experimenting in a lab, and not creators of a billion-user product. The company that never tweets is unlikely to take direction from a bunch of angry tweeters. But it’s worth wondering; is the storage trap one we’re willing to continually lie in?

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