Many of us keep photos, videos, music, podcasts, and apps on our iPhones. With all this data on your iPhone, there is a good chance you will eventually see a message indicating no storage is available. You may even find you can no longer take photos with your iPhone because there is no storage available for the new photo.
If you have a 16GB iPhone, this means you have 16GB of internal iPhone storage. Depending on your usage, it may not take long to utilize all 16GB. You can not add more internal storage capacity to the iPhone. In the past, your only real options were to delete data from your device or purchase a new device with more internal storage (as in a 64GB iPhone instead of a 16GB iPhone).
If you want to try reducing the amount of data stored on your iPhone, this article describes how to manage the storage on your device and find what is using the most space.
If you simply need all the data on your device and can not delete it, luckily there are now alternatives to buying a new iPhone.
iCloud and Other Cloud Storage
Purchasing more iCloud storage will not solve all your storage problems. The iCloud storage is not exactly interchangeable with internal device storage. They are different types of storage with different functions. However, the iCloud Photo Library feature will store photos on your device as well as in iCloud. When the Optimize iPhone Storage setting is enabled, full resolution photos are stored in iCloud and smaller device-size photos are saved on your device. This reduces the overall storage space used on your device.
As an alternative to the iCloud Photo Library, consider using Flickr to save your photos in the cloud. Flickr offers 1,000GB of free storage for your photos and a free iPhone app to manage your photos.
You can further use iCloud to save storage space on your device by enabling the iCloud Drive feature, which allows documents to be stored directly in iCloud instead of your device. As an alternative to iCloud Drive, consider similar services such as DropBox and Google Drive.
Accessing data stored on the Internet will use cellular data when your device is not connected to a Wi-Fi network. If you are looking for an option that does not use cellular data, consider one of the hardware solutions below.
Wireless Hard Drive
The hard drives create their own internal Wi-Fi network that you connect to in the iPhone Wi-Fi settings. You can then access the hard drive using the free app from the drive manufacturer (Western Digital or Seagate).
If you are connected to the Wi-Fi network of one of these hard drives, your iPhone will not have Internet access using a cellular data connection. Therefore, you will not have Internet access when connected to the hard drive. However, when the hard drive is connected to your home Wi-Fi network, you can connect your iPhone to the hard drive’s Wi-Fi network to access the Internet.
You can store movies and and videos on the external hard drive to save space on your iPhone. Use apps such as VLC for Mobile to stream movies from the hard drive.
Wireless SD Card Reader
If you don’t want to spend the money for a wireless hard drive, you may want to consider a wireless SD card reader. These are similar to the wireless hard drives except they store information on SD cards instead of a traditional hard drive. This makes them less expensive than a wireless hard drive, but you need to supply your own SD card. Some models support a USB flash drive (also called a thumb drive or memory stick) in addition to the SD card.
A very popular SD card reader is the RAVPower FileHub, 5 in 1 SD Card USB Reader, which is also capable of charging your iPhone. A dedicated RAV FileHub app can be downloaded from the App Store to access data from the reader.
Another way to gain additional storage is by simply purchasing a flash drive (also called a thumb drive, memory stick, or a host of other names). Most flash drives have a USB port on them and can not be used with an iPhone. However, there are some flash drives with a lightening connector specifically for the iPhone. Flash drives for the iPhone are convenient and easy to use. Some models include both a USB connector and a lightening connector so you can transfer data between your computer and iPhone. The downside of these devices is it can make using your iPhone feel a little clumsy while the flash drive is connected to your iPhone.
If you are interested in a flash drive for your iPhone, my recommendation is the SanDisk iXpand Mobile flash drive. It has both the lightening connector for the iPhone and a USB connector for your computer.
SanDisk has a free iXpand Sync app for use with their flash drive.
Battery Pack with Built-in Storage
Some manufacturers make iPhone cases that contain additional batteries and storage for use with the iPhone. The storage option is basically a flash drive included in the iPhone case along with some additional battery power. While it may seem desirable to have all the extra storage space and battery capacity, these cases generally add considerable thickness to the iPhone.
If you are interested in an iPhone battery case with built-in storage, a popular choice is the Space Pack by Mophie. While this isn’t the cheapest option to add external storage to the Phone, it does offer the convenience of an all-in-one solution. Mophie provides a free companion app called Mophie Space to access the external data stored in the Space Pack.
With all the options available to add external storage to your iPhone, there is no single best solution for everyone. You ultimately need to choose an option that best suits your needs. You can always upgrade to a higher capacity iPhone to resolve your storage issues, but it’s good to know other options are available.
** In an effort to provide full disclosure, the products described in this article are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission from any purchases you make. Having said that, I only recommend products I have researched and believe provide real value. Any affiliate commissions earned are at no cost to you.