In recent news, it emerged that Apple is being sued for leaving iPhone users with less storage space than advertised. However, it turns out that Apple is one of the most efficient users of storage space on its devices like the iPhone and iPad – much more so than Android phones, Samsung and especially Microsoft.
The plaintiffs in the U.S. case are Paul Orshan and Christopher Endara, who said in their lawsuit that “reasonable customers” would not expect more sophisticated software (i.e. iOS 8 when compared to iOS 7 on the same device) to take up more room.
The specifics of the case state that 16 GB iPods, iPads and iPhones use as much as 23% of the storage space advertised for the operating system (OS) and other built-in apps. In other words, if you buy a 16GB iPhone you won’t actually have 16 GB of space to use for photos, movies and media. What a surprise!! The OS takes up a few GB of space – unbelievable…
Here’s a table that shows how much space you will actually have for various capacity Apple devices:
A recent article by AppleInsider‘s Daniel Eran Dilger points out that all the major news networks (such as ABC News, the BBC, Time, Independent UK, and so on) failed to get the story right or do any actual research to see how Apple stacks up to the competition. Of course, just putting the word “Apple” in your news headlines is fantastic click-bait and it doesn’t matter if the facts report are correct – so it seems!
iPhone not the worst culprit by far…
The article also points out various reports (one of them by leading consumer watchdog “Which?”) found that Apple’s devices are among the best on the market in terms of using the storage efficiently. Which? found the 16GB iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s left 12.6GB and 12.2GB respectively to users on iOS 7, which was in fact less free space than the newer 16GB iPhone 6 running iOS 8, which leaves around 13GB (12.1 GiB) free.
Here’s the tech bit: there is a subtle difference between the definition of Gigabytes (GB) and Gigabytes (GiB), sometimes also called Gibibyte. More details for the technically-minded can be founded here.
In essence, 1 GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes and 1 GiB = 1,073,741,824 bytes. GB is often used to denote either, quite incorrectly.
So instead of less storage, iOS 8 actually offers more available storage than iOS 7. But more interesting is the free space left for the user on Android smartphones:
Just like many other consumer reports, the survey mentioned above found that the only 16 GB Android device that leaves more than 12 GB free space for users was the Google Nexus 5.
The Sony Xperia Z1, HTC One Mini and LG G2 all left between 10.3GB and 11.4GB free space on the 16GB models, while the Galaxy S5 left just 8.56GB that could actually be used.
The AppleInsider report also points out that Android users might say they can use an SD card to increase the amount of storage on their device – that was suggested by Samsung S4 users in 2014, to make up for the loss of nearly half the advertised storage. But unfortunately, SD cards don’t provide good security (they use Microsoft’s FAT file system) and make it much harder to secure your data and devices. That’s why Apple has never provided a built-in SD card slot for iPads, iPhones and iPods.
Google even removed SD card support in Android 4.4 (KitKat) – after which angry Android users discovered that they could only use the card in very specific ways and not for general purpose things like apps. Apparently, “Apps no longer work, folks have problems with cameras and music players”, as users found out much to their annoyance. And the reason Google made the changes was largely due to security concerns.
More details about that SD card use change can be found on Android Central here.
Microsoft devices waste the most space
It’s not Apple, Google or Samsung who are the most guilty at using the device’s available storage space for the operating system and apps. Microsoft has long been known for its bloated disk space usage on PCs that use Windows, made worse by its practice of encouraging OEMs to load new PCs with all kinds of unwanted software and utilities that nobody wants.
Microsoft launched its own tablet in 2012 called the Surface, which also left users with hardly any storage space. In fact, Windows on the original model used 64% of the available storage leaving a paltry 36% free for the user.
This meant that a Surface Pro with an advertised 64G of storage space left users with only 23GB!!!
But you can’t blame Microsoft, as it had stated on its website that “system software uses significant storage space. Available storage is subject to change based on system software updates and apps usage”.
So even though the lawsuit filed against Apple also says that its 16GB iPad takes up too much space and leaves only 78.7% of its storage free, the 64GB Surface Pro only left 36% (or just over twice that of the entry-level 16GB iPad) available even though the Surface was advertised as having four times as much memory as the iPad.
So before you criticise Apple too hastily, you might want to check how much free space you are left with on your new Android or Windows smartphone. It might be less than you think!…