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How to survive an iPhone with only 16GB of storage

Let's all agree that Apple continues to be cruel by equipping its entry-level iPhones with only 16GB of storage. Surely the company could afford to make 32GB the baseline without negatively impacting its bottom line.
That said, we can also agree that, for a variety of reasons, you might be among the countless users who end up with a 16GB iPhone. Maybe it was all you could afford, or there was a deal that was too good to pass up. Perhaps you simply misjudged how much storage you'd need once you started shooting HD video or downloading YouTube vids for offline viewing.

1. Know your space hogs

With space at a premium, it's crucial you learn what's consuming the most of it so you can act accordingly. Here are the biggest offenders:
  • Photos and videos
  • Music and podcasts
  • Games

2. Consider your pixels

With every new iPhone, Apple touts higher-resolution sensors for capturing photos and videos. That's good news for quality, bad news for storage: More pixels means larger files.
The irony is that most of our photos get viewed on our phones or shared via Facebook or Instagram, where mammoth megapixel counts aren't necessary. Heck, even 1080p video is overkill for viewing on a phone or tablet; your mini-movies would look nearly as good (and consume less space) at 720p.

3. Put the cloud to work

As noted above, photos and videos will fill up your 16GB faster than Taylor Swift can fill up a stadium. Fortunately, iOS can help: its Optimize iPhone Storage feature offloads your photos to your iCloud account, keeping "optimized" (read: low-resolution) versions on your phone while storing the full-resolution originals online.
To enable this feature (which, in slightly vague terms, kicks in only "if your iPhone is low on space"), tap the Settings app and then choose iCloud > Photos. Make sure your iCloud Photo Library is toggled on, then tap Optimize iPhone Storage. It may take some time before this optimization is complete, and it's hard to say what it'll net you, space-wise, but this is a helpful feature when you're out of room and desperately need to snap some photos.

4. Try a magic trick

If you're so low on space you can barely even snap a photo, let alone install a new app or update iOS, there's a weird trick that might help you reclaim hundreds of megabytes, or even a few gigabytes.
In a nutshell, it works like this: You're going to try renting (and downloading) a movie that your phone doesn't have space for. Then you're going to try it again, and perhaps even a few more times. As evidenced by the reader comments in my original post, to say nothing of my own experience, this really works.


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