Is 8GB enough for the iPhone 3G?

Sections: iPhone OS, SDK and hacks, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Originals

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iPhone 3GAs we ran our live blog of last Monday’s WWDC Keynote, I couldn’t help but get a little excited about all of the iPhone applications being demoed. This is a bit out of character for me, as I’m a Mac guy, not a gadget guy. In fact, before I finally broke down and bought an 8GB iPhone last autumn, the closest I’d come to a cell phone was using my wife’s Kyocera pay-as-you-go phone through Virgin Mobile.

Now, I’m happy with my iPhone. I’ve made some calls. I’ve even answered some. I’ve texted some friends, photographed some sunrises and followed my real time hockey scores. But, by and large, I get less use out of my iPhone in one week than many of you will in an hour. That’s all about to change, however, with iPhone 2.0 and the App Store. Now, there are programs to use. Information to store. Games to played.


This got me to thinking…will my 8GB iPhone be enough? When I upgrade, will I have pay for the 16GB model just to handle those glorious games? A quick check of my current iPhone reveals that I’m using less than 1GB in available space, and over 9/10ths of that is taken up by one movie (you probably don’t want to know which one). Obviously, I’ve got plenty of room to spare, but will that continue to be the case as I buy more games, utilities and productivity software? Apple has announced they’re restricting the iPhone app size to 2GB, but that’s only three applications away from filling up my drive. Hardly a restriction.

So, to get an idea on whether 8GB will be enough, I contacted a couple gaming companies to see what they’ll be delivering (I went with games only because they tend to demand more disk space). Pangea Software’s Brian Greenstone, who demoed Cro-Mag Rally and Enigmo for the iPhone at the Keynote, told me, “The app sizes are still in flux, but I can say that they’re not very large—smaller than the original games.” A quick check of their Mac counterparts reveals that Enigmo and Cro-Mag are 23MB and 130MB downloads, respectively. That’s certainly workable.

Enigmo for iPhone

I also contacted our friends over at Freeverse regarding their iPhone games. Colin Lynch Smith replied, “Big Bang Sudoku will be around 4MG. Wingnuts Moto Racer will be in the vicinity of 10MG.” Colin also offered this tip; “Given that apps under 10MB will be downloadable over the cell networks, I think most devs will try to keep their apps under 10MG if at all possible.”

Wingnuts Moto Racer

So, at least for now, it looks as if I’m safe with my 8GB model. We’ll see how long this lasts as more applications are released and developers continue to push the technology, but I have a feeling any disk space I sacrifice will be because I refuse to delete any games from my iPhone…

…and because I never know just when I’ll want to watch the greatest movie ever made!

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  • Mark Rowland

    Well, I doubt that many apps will be very big. Apple may even be <a href="limiting" rel="nofollow">">limiting the size.

  • Mike Cohen

    I would upgrade just to get 16G. I find 8G much too small to keep most of my music and a few videos & photos. 32G would be even better.

  • Gabe Jacobs

    I'm not really worried about this at all. The biggest app on is 10 MB so I'm sure the majority of App Store apps will be the same. Even 10 MB is huge for an Installer app and the most are under a MB. I don't feel the pressure at all to get more space and I have about 3000 songs.

  • Brilliant Pixel

    Wondering the same exact thing. 8GB or 16GB?? I was leaning to the 8 since I can add and remove movies and music…but what about games? Being a not-as-of-yet-iPhone-owner or even owning an iTunes game, I was curious if you were able to restrict which games are on your iPhone/iPod. Anyone?

  • Kirk Hiner

    Well, you'll be installing the games yourself, so yeah, you'll be able to "restrict" them. If loading them has to be done through iTunes, it'll probably work just like iPod games; you'll download them to the computer, then load them onto the iPhone. If you delete them from your iPhone, you'll still have the copy in iTunes that you can upload again at any point. I'm not completely sure that's how it'll work, but it makes sense.

    Something else to consider is that most of the games will be fairly small, and most likely won't have a long shelf life. I expect to be cycling through them frequently, with few staying on the iPhone for more than a month.

  • JG Mason

    IMO to anyone looking to pick one up: go for 16. Music collections only grow. And I've got to tell you Kirk, Monkey Ball is no joke; you'll not be cycling through that one.

    No one ever wishes, "ah darn, I should have gotten less memory". It is always the reverse.

  • Kirk Hiner

    I don't know, JG. I had that one for the Game Cube, and hit a wall pretty quickly with those impossible-to-finish-without-random-luck levels. If they remove those from the iPhone version, maybe I'll give it a chance. You're right about the memory, though. My advice on that has always been "buy the most you can afford."

  • Brilliant Pixel

    Good call guys. I'm a big believer in more space. But between my MacBook and G5 I don't need tons of space on my cell…unless I have to in order to have what I want/need. And with Apple's new updates every 6 months I'm sure by the time I get to 'full' the 64GB version will be around the corner…
    I guess I should have been more general…what about iTunes downloads overall, apps included? Can you install and remove anything from iTunes you've purchased at any time? Music and movies are pretty obvious by now (and then rentals have their own limitations). What if you DL directly to your iPhone? Will a sync backup your new iPhone DL for forever keeps? July 11th isn't coming quick enough…

  • Steve Embleton

    I was also worried about this, I wonder how much memory a game like super monkey ball would take up, surely not much more than cro-mag rally..?

  • Patrick Lutz

    Flash Gordon = the greatest movie ever made!? You gotta start watching more movies.

  • alexa

    Depends on how much stuff you are going to put on it. It would be enough for me.

  • David

    HI Guys,

    Wondering is it sufficient for 8GB I phone, since i am more to a fan of movie and music games wise not really into it. Please advice


  • Kirk Hiner

    Music's not problem, but movies would hog that 8GB pretty quickly. Unless you want to keep shuffling movies on off, I'd look into at least getting a 16GB.

  • David

    Hi Bro,

    Thanks for the advice, i am pretty new to this by the way just need to ask does checking e mails with attachements take up lots of space using push mail? and also my term of movies refer to short clips does it take up a lot space maybe a movies to go along ? by the way does applications take up lots of space? Please advice appreciate it.


  • Kirk Hiner

    The applications vary wildly in size, but the vast majority don't come anywhere nearly large enough to killing your space. 32GB is likely the way to go, but I've been getting by just fine with 16GB and I've got two movies on it, over 40 apps, and quite a bit of music.

  • David

    THanks a lot for your advice,i feel should be sufficient as i believe i do not have as much applications, what bout e mail and dowloading attachment via push mail does it take up space too? i know the question is rather silly but jsut wanna more comprehensive details before i invest in this phone… A million thanks

  • Kirk Hiner

    E-mail attachments will take up space, but only as much as the attachment. You'd just have to manage the number you receive (and their size) and get them synched up with your computer so you can get the attachments out of Mail and onto your computer's hard drive.

  • Coder

    Hey 😀
    I know this is totally outdated post… But I'm totally thinking to buy brand new iPhone 3Gs 8GB… I never had iPhone so I need you to tell me if 8GB on an iPhone 3Gs with iOS5 will be enough!?
    Anyways… My whole music collection is around 900MB, I won't watch any movies on iPhone, and I'll maybe use camera sometimes.

    So basically, I just need an iPhone 3Gs 8GB for Music, Apps and Games :)
    What do you think? Should I buy it? Because 3Gs 16GB is no longer being manufactured :(

  • Kirk Hiner

    8GB is fine if you're not loading it with movies. Most apps come in pretty small, and you can easily cycle them in and out. The larger, high-end games are reaching a point where they won't run on a 3GS, anyway.