How to Survive with a 16GB Phone

by Dan Forster - , Last Updated on January 20, 2016, How To Guides

Phone memory is a controversial issue, with some people thinking more storage is better, and others thinking that expensive extra memory just isn’t worth paying for. In all but the lowest category of smart phones, 16 GB is pretty much the minimum that you’re going to see nowadays. And whether you’re getting a contract phone or just want to save a few pounds, a 16 GB device is going to be your cheapest option. However, that memory is going to fill up pretty fast. That’s why we’re taking a look at how you can survive that 16 GB phone, so if you’ve got memory issues, then read on!

Memory: The Basics

Alrighty, before we get started, there are two things that you need to know. The first of these is that you’re not actually going to be getting 16 GB of memory, no matter what the box says. Why? Because 16 GB refers to the total amount of memory in the phone, yet when you buy that hand set it’s already got an operating system and maybe some bloatware installed on it. In actuality you’ll end up with somewhere around 12 GB of space to play around with (depending on the operating system and version that you have).

Second up, you need to know what happens when your memory gets full. The reason that you want to manage your storage responsibly is that once that memory starts filling up, your phone will slow down and become more likely to freeze. Performance issues aside, a full memory can also mean your phone refusing to do certain things (such as download emails or take pictures) simply because there’s no room to store that information. So how are you going to prevent these problems?

Step One: Watch Your Storage

Both iPhones and Androids offer you an option to keep an eye on storage and what it’s being used for. On an iPhone go to Settings, then General, then Storage and iCloud Usage, then Manage Storage. On an Android just go to Settings then Storage. Both of these will allow you to see what’s taking up space on your phone, and it’s a good idea to check periodically that nothing’s eating up too much space.

Step Two: Get a Google Account and Use It!

Most people already have a Google account, but if you don’t then sign up for a gmail address. Why? Because once you have a Google account you can then access Google Photos. This will allow you unlimited storage of photos and videos, one of the big offenders when it comes to eating phone storage space. Yes, it works on iPhones too, and is generally a better bet than Apple’s iCloud storage option (which gives you a 5 GB limit for photo storage).

Once you’re all hooked up, download the Google Photos app and all your photos and videos will go straight to the cloud. Even better, by going into the settings menu of the Google Photos app and checking the option to “free up device storage” the app will automatically delete photos and videos from your phone once they’re uploaded to the cloud, giving you tons more memory space.

Step Three: Ditch Downloaded Music

Music lovers can easily get frustrated with low storage phones, since downloading just a handful of albums to your device will take up most of your available memory. That means that it’s time to ditch those downloads. Subscribing to a streaming music service will free up space on your phone, simple as that. Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music are all options, though some of them require payment (though Google Play Music at least lets you upload your personal music collection to the cloud for free, which you can then stream back to your phone).

You will need to watch data limits if you choose this option, since constantly streaming music through your phone is likely to eat up your monthly data pretty fast. Use WiFi wherever possible, and remember that most mobile operators will give you more data in your plan if you ask (and are willing to pay for it).

Step Four: Consider an SD Card

If you’re really hurting for storage space you might want to think about getting an SD card if you can. Not all phones will take them (iPhones don’t, and in general mobiles with non-removable batteries won’t either), but this is a relatively cheap way to add more memory to your phone. Just remember to manage your storage space regularly and make sure that you’re moving things like photos and downloads over to the SD card rather than keeping them in your phone memory.

Step Five: Make Sensible App Decisions

With so many apps around, particularly free ones, it’s pretty easy to fill up your phone with tons of things that you don’t use. You’re going to need to make some sensible app decisions if you’re low on storage space though. Top end games tend to take up a lot of memory, so you might want to avoid those (or at least check that you have enough space to store them, your app store should tell you how much memory you need for an app).

In addition, you’ll need to keep an eye on what you’re using and not using. Not all apps will show on your home screens, so check your app drawer, and regularly delete those that you’re not using. Be aware that some apps that are pre-loaded on your phone when you buy it can’t be removed at all, though these days a lot of that so-called “bloatware” is removable as long as you track down where it’s stored.

Bottom Line Time

Whilst 16 GB might not seem like a lot of storage space, given the number of online storage options you have these days, as well as things like music streaming services, that memory might actually stretch further than you imagine. A little careful management and some wise decisions, and you’ll probably find that you’re more than happy with your 16 GB choice. Plus, you get to save money too, which is always a good thing!