A New Apple Feature Will Quickly Eat Up Your iPhone Storage

Live Photos turn your photos into mini videos–and will reportedly take up twice as much space as a regular photo.

If you have a 16 GB iPhone, odds are you do a fair amount of digital housekeeping every month. I know I do: My photos, videos, iMessages, and sometimes apps themselves wind up getting pared down as the spare room on my iPhone 5s dwindles from day-to-day use. If you find this constant duel annoying, brace yourself–it’s about to get worse.


Live Photos, introduced during Apple’s fall event on Wednesday, is a new default feature that turns your photos into neat mini-animations by recording several additional frames alongside each shot. But as TechCrunch explains in this video, each Live Photo will take up the space of two normal photos. Combine that with the larger file sizes produced by the iPhone’s new 4K video and you’re going to be cleaning house much more frequently, should you opt to buy the 16 GB edition of the new iPhone.

The obvious solution–other than being more conservative about the number of apps you install or photos you take–is to buy a bigger iPhone. Sure, you can do that. As I look to replace my weathered iPhone 5s, I’m not even considering the 16 GB option. But it feels like Apple is backing consumers into a corner, forcing us to pay an extra $100 to avoid a cumbersome, frustrating experience. Why even bother selling the 16 GB models anymore?

It doesn’t help that the operating system itself has grown over time. iOS 6 was about 600 MB. When iOS 8 was released last year, it required 4.6 GB of space to download and install (even though the OS itself was only 1 GB large). With iOS 9, Apple promises to have fixed the download requirement, but the operating system itself remains 1.3 GB. And as more and more features are added with every update, it continues to grow.

The evolution of iOS and its capabilities–particularly the shift to larger screens–means that the sizes of apps have also ballooned. iOS 9 strives to tame this problem with a new feature called app thinning, but that doesn’t change our reality: Apps are still bigger, the OS is bigger, and now our photos are about to get bigger.

Of course, if you do buy a new iPhone and your photo roll spirals out of control, you can always turn the Live Photos feature off. But those Harry Potter-esque moving photos are pretty stunning–so you might want to consider springing for the 64 GB model.

[via MacRumors]


About the author

John Paul Titlow is a writer at Fast Company focused on music and technology, among other things.