What Eats Up Space on an iPhone?

The iPhone, originally released in 2007, is, at the time of publication, available in its fourth generation as the iPhone 4 and comes in 16GB and 32GB models. Like any mobile device, the iPhone’s memory, or data storage space, is eaten up by anything that is added to it, including contacts and applications. Large-format files, such as photos, videos and music, are typically the largest consumer of the iPhone’s data storage space.

Anything stored on the iPhone takes up memory space.

Photos and Videos

The iPhone 4 comes with a built-in 5-megapixel camera that captures still images at up to 2,592 by 1,944 pixels of resolution and is capable of recording high-definition video at up to 720 lines of vertical resolution. Using the phone at its maximum resolution setting for taking pictures or recording video will create larger files, which take up larger pieces of the phone’s memory. Setting the phone to take pictures and record video at lower resolution settings, on the other hand, will produce smaller files, which eat up less memory space.

Audio Files

While a single audio file will not make a big impact on the iPhone’s memory space, adding many audio files will. For example, while the precise size of an audio file depends on its play time and bit rate, a typical three-minute audio file will occupy about 3 to 5 Megabytes of the phone’s available memory. Since most people add more than just one song to their portable listening device, you can expect to use up a considerable amount of memory by adding hundreds, if not thousands, of audio files. For example, adding 1,000 songs to the iPhone’s iTune app will eat up about 7GB of space.


Adding applications to the iPhone will also eat up available memory space, especially if you add a lot of them. Like audio files, adding just one application won’t have too much of an impact on the device’s available memory, but not many users add just one. Most apps available from the iTunes App Store, such as the popular game Angry Birds, take up less than 20MB of space. As you add dozens, hundreds or thousands of apps to the iPhone, you will see how the phone’s available memory is impacted.


You can maximize the iPhone’s available memory by periodically checking its contents for unwanted or unused files, and deleting them. As you accumulate photo and video files, either by taking them with the phone itself or by receiving them as messages and emails, you can free up space by saving these files to an email account or hard drive for safekeeping, then deleting them from the phone. Though the iPhone’s memory may seem endless when you first open the package, remember that the device comes with pre-loaded applications that have already eaten up some of the storage space listed on the box.