Does the iPhone 13 really need 1TB of storage?

Latest rumors suggest the next iPhone could top out at 1TB, but is that much storage really necessary?

IPhone 12 Pro Max
(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 13 is expected to launch in the third week of September this year according to the latest rumors from Wedbush, via 9to5Mac. And the same sources suggest that the flagship iPhone Pro Max could offer as much as 1TB storage. My question is, who really needs 1TB on their phone?

While I know the question of needing with regards the latest tech is an iffy one in general, I’m struggling to come up with a situation where that much storage is actually going to be helpful. I’ve been using the iPhone 12 Pro Max now for about three months and despite my best efforts, I’ve only filled just over 160GB of the potential 512GB – and that includes adding about 60GB of music from my iTunes that I didn’t really need to thanks to Apple Music.

My point is that the beauty of modern portable devices – and that includes phones, tablets and even laptops – is that most services run from the cloud. Our music, movies, emails and even pictures are mostly stored online and accessed via 5G or Wi-Fi whenever we need them. And as these connections are now more than fast enough to stream any high-def content, there’s little need to store them offline on the phone at all.

Okay, maybe if you’re going on a camping trip to the middle of nowhere, or have a long flight planned, then you might want some content you can access without a data signal. But 1TB worth? It feels excessive.

Video is perhaps the only area where it might be possible to fill that storage at any kind of rate. If you’re shooting in 4K files can get pretty large, and if the iPhone 13 plans to offer 8K video in a RAW format, that could reach up to 121.5GB per minute. That’s a potential 8 minutes of video to fill the SSD.

Most pro video shooters prefer to use a clean feed from the camera to an external storage drive/monitor rather than store in-camera, so it would be a limited number that would need it. And for anyone else, you’re probably better shooting in a standard compressed format, which is much smaller – around 40GB for an hour’s footage.

For the rest of us, that 1TB is likely to end up staying pretty empty, even if you do want to have every episode of Game of Thrones and The Office on hand wherever you go. Unfortunately, given the choice, we always want more – more pixels on the camera, more RAM, more battery – but sometimes it’s just for the sake of it. That said, if the rumors turn out to be false and it only comes with a 512GB storage, I will be a little disappointed.

Mat Gallagher

As T3's Editor-in-Chief, Mat Gallagher has his finger on the pulse for the latest advances in technology. He has written about technology since 2003 and after stints in Beijing, Hong Kong and Chicago is now based in the UK. He’s a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, Apple, electric cars, musical instruments or travel.