Should Apple Offer Expandable Storage for iOS Devices?

Being able to increase the storage on your iPhone has always been a big issue; should Apple think about doing it?


Since its initial release in 2007, Apple have refused to offer expandability in their iPhones. This means you are stuck with the size you purchase. People buy smartphones with certain tasks in mind, but as soon as they start using them, most people find other things to do on them and soon realise that their internal storage isn’t enough to hold their apps, games, music, pictures, and videos.

You then fight the constant battle of deleting things or moving them to your computer. Each day is then a struggle with you questioning do I really want this on my phone? as you know it is taking up precious space.

Hello iPhone

In 2012, I bought an original iPhone. This was my first venture into the world of iOS. It was an 8 GB model, and it soon became apparent space could become an issue, as I started loading music and installing apps. So when upgrading to an iPhone 3GS, I picked up a 16 GB model. The iPhone 4 and then iPhone 4s that followed were also 16 GB models. However, by the time I was well into using the iPhone 4s, I was beginning to feel the constraints of space once again.

When it came to upgrading to an iPhone 5, I was looking at larger phones, which were more expensive, as I didn’t want to go through the daily tussle.

My wife fell into this trap recently. Moving from an Android-based HTC Desire S with a 1 GB card installed to an iPhone, she thought an 8 GB model would more than suit her needs. However, within months of using it, she realised the 5.8 GB available to her just wasn’t enough, but the phone was in a contract, and therefore she stuck with a phone she was constantly juggling with.

System Space

One thing you also need to remember is that internal storage isn’t all that you expect. A Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini with 8 GB storage will only give you 4.5 GB of user space, and a 16 GB iPhone 4s will only give you 12.6 GB user space. This increases the problem of running out of space.

My iPhone 5, despite being a 64 GB model, only gives me 56 GB to use. That is a big chunk to lose.

Card Slot Storage

Every other platform supports a built-in SD card slot for storing pictures, videos, and music on, and Android 2.2 Froyo added the ability to store and runs apps and games from the SD card. This was great for those with low internal storagemicrosd

Pre-Android handsets and earlier PDAs – especially Sony ones – used Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, and M2 card, which were proprietary Sony memory cards. MicroSD has become the standard now.

In recent years, some Android and Windows Phone handsets have dropped the SD card slot, following the iPhone’s footsteps, but the majority still offer it. It is a major factor in people choosing what platform they will go for.

The bonus of this is cheap expandability. That 16 GB SD Card you bought three months ago no longer holds all the music and pictures you want? Instead of being stuck, you simply buy a bigger card. Even the most basic Android or Windows Phone is capable of taking a 32 GB SD Card. It is so easy to add extra space.

iPhone Expandable Storage

Should Apple offer this? It has long been a contention with Apple users and Steve Jobs that SD cards were unreliable and unnecessary.

I have to agree that flimsy SD card expansion shouldn’t be the option for iPhones. However, I do think that they could offer some form of exchangeable storage.

If Apple were to create their own form of flash drive or SSD that could be removed from a handset, the user could then purchase a larger version when needed.

It wouldn’t need to interfere with their sleek design, nor would it require opening up the phone. A slot in the side – similar to the SIM slot – could house an ultra-thin metal memory card. It could be tied to your device or your iCloud account for security reasons, and it would hold just the user partition. The system partition, which takes up 3 to 4 GB these days, would still be handled onboard the phone.


Unlike other handsets, an iPhone would require the presence of one of these expansion cards to operate.

This would simplify Apple selling iPhones, as all phones would essentially be the same base phone with flash drives of varying sizes as an option. It would negate the need for Apple to produce different capacity iPhones. It could also enable them to release larger upgrades for older phones, or after a handset is launched.

Project Ara

Google are working on a modular phone called Project Ara, which aims to solve the problem of phones being non-upgradeable by offering each component of the phone as a changeable piece.


This means if you want a better camera, crack your screen, or run out of space, you could buy another one and fit it.

Third Party Options

There are currently third party options to add extra space to your iPhone, but they aren’t a seamless option.

ibridge  space

The Leef iBridge is a weird contracption that plugs in to the Lightning port, and you can move media files to it directly from your iPhone – but its weird hook shape looks odd.

Mophie produce the Juice Pack Space. It is a protective battery case like other Mophies, but it also features built-in flash storage for storing phones, videos, and music. And while it is more convenient than the Leef iBridge, it still isn’t a perfect solution.


As long as it is done properly, expandable memory modules for the iPhone could be a good thing. Rather than looking at it like plugging in a card, think of it as having the internal storage as a removable option.

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