Before we begin, here’s a quick question. How much data do you have on your smartphone?
It’s bound to be more than you expected.
Smartphone operating systems tend to occupy several gigabytes of storage, while pre-installed bloatware like Facebook and manufacturer-specific apps can double this.
Every app you download occupies a not insignificant chunk of hard drive real estate, too.
Then it’s time to consider downloaded content – the webpages, documents and media files which are loaded onto our phones without a second thought.
Last but not least, there’s user generated content like video clips and photos.
With a single smartphone image now occupying up to 10MB of storage space, our quest for the perfect selfie and the ultimate TikTok movie clip comes at a cost.
Specifically, it comes as the cost of our phones creaking under the weight of all our data.
It’s easy to pick up a handset in a phone shop and think “oh, I’ll never need that amount of storage”.
Yet in truth, a modern smartphone could be half-full before you power it up for the first time.
As hard drives fill up, devices run more slowly. Plus, there’s an increased likelihood of owners being asked to delete data before they create or download new content.
That leads onto a wider issue about finding the best handsets for data storage, which isn’t always as simple as choosing a phone with the largest hard drive.
For one thing, a sealed-unit device will never offer the flexibility of a smartphone which can accept SD cards – removable storage devices which can be replaced and swapped at any time.
And nor is the cloud the panacea to smartphone storage woes. It brings issues of accessibility over 4G and synchronisation challenges if files are deleted off your phone but not online.
The best handsets for data storage
Below, we’ve listed some of the best handsets for data storage currently on sale in the UK.
Identical-looking smartphones are available with widely varying levels of storage, so check exactly which model you’re buying if space is critically important.
For instance, Huawei’s top-end P30 Pro offers 512GB of space, but other models in the same range deliver just 128GB – and much of that is filled before it leaves its protective packaging.
Samsung Galaxy S10. Storage: 1TB.
The S20 is on its way, but Samsung’s (current) flagship product still offers a stunning one terabyte of storage. That’s a thousand gigabytes, or 100,000 Instagram-ready photos.
Huawei P30/P30 Pro. Storage: 512GB plus 256GB NM storage.
The P30 range may be acquired with 512GB of space as standard. There’s also a memory card slot, but it’s Huawei’s proprietary technology rather than the familiar microSD standard.
Apple iPhone 11. Storage: 512GB
The latest iPhone offers 512GB of space with no expandability, and you’ll pay over £1,100 for the privilege. However, iCloud synchronisation backs up data seamlessly online.
Sony Xperia 1. Storage: 128GB plus 512GB SD storage.
Sony’s Xperia 1 offers just 128GB of internal storage, but a microSD slot supports another 512GB of removable storage. And if that ever fills up, you simply pop in another card.
LG V50 ThinQ. Storage: 128GB plus 1TB SD storage.
Anything Sony can do, LG can do better. The V50 ThinQ has a side-loading card tray which boosts its storage to 1,152GB of storage – quite sufficient even in today’s data-hungry age.