This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
The 2019 lineup of iPhones was announced earlier this week, and one of the pleasant surprises was that the prices of the three new devices are the same or lower (as hard as it is to believe) than those of the iPhones they succeed. But that’s not a big consolation considering the numbers hover around $1,000, but things get worse when we take a look at what the base versions offer as storage – and how much Apple charges for upgrades. There’s one phone that got a lower price and that’s the iPhone 11 which dropped by $50 compared to the iPhone XR. Its base storage and the price jumps between storage upgrades, however, remain the same and the situation is similar with the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. And that’s exactly where the issue is. This means that all the prices Apple shows during its presentation are for iPhones with 64GB of storage. While users might let that slide when it comes to the $699 iPhone 11 since for the same price as last year’s iPhone XR ($749) you get 128GB, the same can’t be said for the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max.
Notice how the word ''From'' is in a darker color
For $999 (or $1,099 for the Max version) on a device that it calls “Pro”, Apple is giving its users a meager 64GB of storage. In 2019. And keep in mind that about 7GB of those are taken by the operating system. And those amazing 4K 60fps videos Apple was showcasing during the announcement? They come at about 400MB per minute. It quickly becomes clear that even for the average user, 64GB are going to feel tight, let alone someone that is looking to get the most out of their thousand-dollar device. So let’s look at what options they have...
We’ve selected a couple of popular 2019 Android high-end smartphones from different brands to see how they price storage upgrades.
Now, we’re not here to compare the absolute prices since the phones are vastly different. What we’re going to focus on are the jumps between the different storage options. One thing that jumps out immediately is that the two other brands, Samsung and OnePlus, don’t even bother with offering 64GB versions of their flagship devices, just as it should be in 2019. That leaves us with two equal jumps we can take a look at. First, the iPhone 11’s jump from 128GB to 256GB would cost customers $100. Meanwhile, over at OnePlus, the upgrade costs just $30. That means Apple charges over three times more for the extra 128GB. And Apple’s storage isn’t some fancy superior version. In fact, the OnePlus 7 Pro comes with the latest UFS 3.0 super-fast storage, and you can’t get better than that.
And second, going from 256 to 512GB of storage on the iPhone 11 Pro Max will cost you double what you’d pay for the same amount of extra storage on the Galaxy Note 10+. $200 is what Apple demands for the upgrade, while Samsung will be happy with just one Benjamin. This means that the most expensive iPhone 11 Pro Max costs a whopping 31% more than the base version. $350 to upgrade a single part. You can buy a whole other smartphone for that money. Meanwhile, for the Note 10+, the $100 price increase is merely 9% of the cost of the base model.It’s not news that companies are using larger storage options to increase their profit margins but the limit to which Apple is pushing it is just ridiculous. And while companies charge you a pretty penny for the extra storage, when the time comes for you to return their precious device, they pretend it’s all the same. Trade-in programs are a popular way for phone manufacturers to offer discounts on the latest products to customers that give back their old phones. Usually, the way it works is by having a fixed amount you get depending on the device you return, and the newer and more expensive the phone, the bigger the discount. But here’s the thing: the discount doesn’t change depending on which storage option you have. So no matter if you’ve paid $1,099 or $1,449 for your previous iPhone, you’re getting the same value for it when giving it back to Apple. The same goes for Samsung and other manufacturers as well. Suddenly, the flash memory chips that vary wildly in prices depending on their capacity are all worth the same.
That's all companies care about when you're trading in a phone
So, if you’ve gone for a high storage option in the past, it makes a lot more sense to sell your phone on eBay or somewhere else (we have a guide on how to go about it) where you can get back at least some of the extra cost. Of course, the second-hand market will almost always give you more, even for the base version of a phone, but some people prefer to go for the hassle-free experience of trade-ins.
Overall, it turns out choosing which storage option to get is quite an important decision. Getting a phone with less storage could seriously hinder your experience in the long term, potentially forcing you to upgrade sooner than you’d hoped. Being tempted by the big numbers, however, could end up as a waste of money if you never make use of all the storage you have. Consider your needs and take into account your past experiences and you’ll surely make the right decision.