Tuesday Tip: How much storage space do you need on your cell phone?

With so many cloud storage options out there these days, do you still need storage inside your phone? Manufacturers think you do. They continue making phones with more storage. Flagship phones like the iPhone X and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 come with a whopping 256 GB of storage. Less roomy phones come with 32 GB, 64 GB or 128 GB of storage However, keep in mind that a phone’s system files and pre-installed apps take up 5-10GB of storage themselves.

So then how much space do you need? The answer is: It depends. It partly depends on how much you want to spend. If you want a phone with more storage, you’ll have to pay for it. For example, the iPhone 8 64 GB costs around $700 retail, while the iPhone 8 256 GB comes in at around $850.

From there it depends entirely on what sort of user you are. If you’re someone who uses your phone primarily to talk, text, read email and browse online, 32 GB is likely enough storage, especially if your phone has a microSD card slot, which you can use to cheaply expand your storage.

For more active phone users, a 64 GB phone is a good option. This is plenty of space if you just take a few photos now and then, save your favorite songs on your phone for offline listening or download a few apps.

128 GB and 256 GB phones are aimed mainly at people who live on their phones, take hundreds (or thousands) of photos, download every new song and play a lot of different games.

Let’s take a look at some different usage scenarios.

Photos

The size of your phone images will vary depending on the quality of your camera and the resolution you use. Most flagship phones these days take photos around 5 MB.

For the occasional photographer, 1 GB will be enough storage for 200 photos. If you snap photos more often – most weekends, say – and you delete old photos now and then, 5 GB will give you space for up to 1,000 images. If you’re a selfie addict, you’ll need around 30 GB, which will hold around 5,000 photos.

Videos

Videos use a lot of phone storage, especially the 4K videos you can take nowadays. The following scenarios assume you’re using the ultra high definition (UHD) setting, which takes videos with lower resolution than 4K.

If you rarely record anything, 5GB of storage is enough for 10 minutes of UHD video. If you want to capture most special moments – birthdays, weddings, your dog snoring – 30 GB of storage is good for 60 minutes of UHD video. If you shoot a lot of video, 100 GB will hold around 4 hours of UHD video.

Music

Most people nowadays listen to a streaming music service like Pandora or Spotify. But when you do stream music on your phone, you need Wi-Fi or a data connection.

So let’s say you want to keep some music on your phone for those times when you’re not using a streaming app. If you listen only on the train to work, say, 1 GB is enough for about 200 songs. If you listen more often, 5 GB will hold 1,000 songs. If you’ve always got your headphones on, 30 GB of storage will be enough for over 5,000 songs.

Apps

Apps come in various sizes but most don’t take up a lot of storage space., although the more you use an app, the more data it will cache and the more storage it will use.

If you just want basic apps on your phone (Facebook, email, etc.) and you play Minecraft now and then when you’re bored, 5 GB will be enough for that. If you want dozens of apps and games, 10 GB is sufficient. Hundreds of apps and a 3D gamer? You’ll need at least 50 GB.

Movies and TV

Netflix and other streaming services are the user’s choice these days, but you might want to download movies and TV shows for watching offline.

If you just want two to three movies, 5 GB is enough. 30 GB will hold up to 20 movies and, for true film buffs, 100 GB will hold around 50 movies.

Follow the above parameters and you should be able to come up with a rough idea of how much internal storage you’ll need on your phone.

If you’re an average phone user and you fall in the middle of the above scenarios, 64 GB or 128 GB should be plenty of storage for you. If you don’t mind storing your photos and videos in the cloud, you can probably make do with 32 GB. Remember, though, that you can only access items in the cloud when you have a Wi-Fi or data connection.