iPhone 16 Pro should jump to 256GB of base storage — but will it?

Unofficial renders of the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max from the front and back
(Image credit: MacRumors)

If you’ve been paying any attention to iPhone 16 rumors in the last couple of days, you may have seen the rumor suggesting that Apple may scrap the 128GB storage option for the iPhone 16 Pro. Meaning the phone would launch with 256GB of base storage, just like the iPhone 15 Pro Max did.

The source of this rumor is LeaksApplePro, who doesn’t have a particularly great track record with Apple rumors. 9to5Mac notes that this leaker has a history of making things up, and the claim itself is less definitive than the final scene of the Sopranos. Claiming Apple “could be considering” scrapping the 128GB storage option doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

Apple could be considering all sorts of things where the iPhone 16 Pro is concerned. Could the 128GB storage option be scrapped? Absolutely. Will it? Well we don’t know, and even if we heard that fact from more trustworthy sources we’d still be somewhat skeptical of those claims for the time being.

Still, scrapping the 128GB option, and not raising the price, is definitely something I’d like to see Apple do sooner rather than later. Even if that feels rather unlikely.

128GB storage isn’t enough in 2024

If you’ve ever used a recent phone with 128GB of storage, you’ll know full well that that space can fill up very fast. Not only do modern apps often require more space than they did 10 years ago, they're also very good at filling up all your free storage by letting you download media for offline use. 

I found myself shocked that the Paramount Plus iPad app was over 700MB in size, and that was before I started downloading any shows and movies

Up until very recently I regularly found myself shocked that the Paramount Plus iPad app was over 700MB in size, and that was before I started downloading any shows and movies. Paramount seems to have quietly taken steps to reduce that size, but it still remains one of the biggest apps on my tablet — and bigger than Disney Plus and Netflix combined.

Then you have to contend with the fact camera phones can make a huge dent in your storage. I’m currently close to filling up my 128GB Pixel 6 Pro, despite offloading a bunch of stuff to paid cloud storage last January, and it’s all because of the camera. 

Photos and videos take up around 50GB of space on my phone and that number is only going to increase before the end of the year when I (hopefully) upgrade to a newer model.

These days you have to consider the fact that iPhones and other flagship phones can, at the very least, record 4K video at 60fps. Add HDR and other features into the mix, particularly cinematic mode or spatial video, and you’re going to fill up that storage much faster than you’d like. 

Without microSD card support to help offload those files, you’re going to be stuck paying to keep everything in cloud storage or transfer them to a hard drive of your own for safe keeping. Plus it doesn’t help that 128GB storage chips aren’t available in the new UFS 4.0 standard, which is faster and more efficient than the long-lived UFS 3.1 chips.

Apple doesn’t increase base storage as often as we’d like

Some high-end phones have already given 128GB storage options the boot. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is a great example of that, as are the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus and S24 Ultra. Clearly phone makers have figured out that 128GB of storage doesn’t really scream “premium” and have changed their storage options accordingly. 

Though this often means raising the prices, which Samsung and Apple are both guilty of. To be fair the Galaxy S24 Plus price stayed the same, which means hikes aren't always guaranteed.

But there’s one thing you should know about Apple and the storage options it has on offer. Namely that it has a long history of keeping the smaller storage options available for far longer than it should. For example, the 64GB storage option only went away with the release of the iPhone 13 in 2021 — though you can still get various iPads and the iPhone SE (2022) with 64GB of storage. 

32GB only vanished 4 years earlier with the release of the iPhone 8, at which point it had well and truly overstayed its welcome. Why? It was never clear, but it had been speculated among my then-colleagues that keeping those low-storage models meant Apple could ensure its starting price was kept as low as possible.

iPhones are desirable, but they’re certainly not cheap, and Apple has a lot to gain from bringing people into its walled garden — including revenue from the App Store, service subscriptions and so on. Drawing them in with an artificially lower price is one way to achieve that — even if the amount of storage offered for that price is pretty pitiful.

128GB phones are still very common, even among phone makers that charge a premium for their latest devices. And if history shows us anything, it’s that Apple isn’t likely to lead the pack in changing that. 

Bottom line

Will Apple scrap the 128GB option on the iPhone 15 Pro? Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. If the iPhone 15 Pro Max is anything to go by, it’s certainly possible that it might. Apple should make that change, especially if the rumors of the iPhone 16 Pro’s new camera capabilities are anything to go by. Unfortunately, you may be asked to pay extra for the privilege, which tempers our enthusiasm for that kind of change. 

I had my way 128GB storage options would be scrapped across the board — but I’m certain that won’t happen for another couple of years. And even then I expect Apple will keep the 128GB option around on its non-Pro iPhones for a few years longer. It’s all down to whatever Apple decides is the right thing to do, and it’s quite difficult to predict what that might be until it gets announced.

The iPhone 16 series is expected to be announced sometime this fall, while iOS 18 and software will dominate the discussion at WWDC 2024 in June. But while you wait you can always keep tabs on our iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Pro and iOS 18 hubs for all the latest news and rumors on everything Apple has planned for the rest of this year.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.