Not all phone storage is born equal

Available Storage?

Storage is an important aspect of your Windows Phone. Whether you're just downloading a few apps and games, taking pictures & video, or (like me) loading a whole load of music onto your device ready for your commutes into work, you need to have the gigabytes to hold that information on your phone.  However, how much storage memory is needed can vary from individual to individual.

So when you're making the decision on which phone to spend your hard earned money on, and particularly when you are committing to a long term contract, you should be considering the advertised storage on the device. Remember that storage on a Windows Phone cannot be supplemented with a micro SD card.

It's fairly common knowledge that the advertised '16GB' or '8GB' of storage is not the amount you actually end up with, the amount varies based on the filesystem, type of storage, and system files. But what you may not realise is just how much of a difference there is between some of the new 2nd generation phones out there on the market right now.

Luckily, here at WPCentral we've got you covered, and have put together the list below which shows the reported "Total Storage" for each of our review devices.  "Total Storage" is essentially the storage space your Windows Phone can see or be used for file storage.


HTC Titan 16GB 12.89GB
HTC Radar 8GB 6.54GB
Samsung Focus S 16GB 14.07GB
Samsung Focus Flash 8GB 6.67GB
Nokia Lumia 800 16GB 13.8GB

As you can see, certainly with devices claiming '16GB' of storage there's quite a divide, and if every single bit counts to you, it would definitely be worth considering these figures when you're picking up a new Windows Phone.

Is your device showing a different figure?  Check the 'about' screen in your phone's settings and then sound off in the comments!


Reader comments

Not all phone storage is born equal


Titan what are kind of bloatware are you packing? How do you have less availabe storage than the Lumia, which has locally stored geo maps?

If it's the ATT version it has the usual ATT addins which are easy to uninstall not sure how much difference that would make. The higher available memory on the focus s may tip the scales away from the titan toward the focus s.or Lumia 900

This is a sad sad fact about Windows Phone.
I would really like to buy a device with a screen that is 4" or less, has a frontal camera and 16gb of storage. Sadly, there is none with those specs. 

Agreed. It's a shame that microSD card slots became taboo after the Samsung Focus debacle. My Focus works great with a Sandisk Class 6 16GB card. I really want to go to 32GB with my next Windows Phone, but those don't exist at any screen size. Finding one at 4" or less just seems like it'll be a pipe dream.

I think I'm going to wait for Gen3 Devices. I need at least 32 gigs. Even with the 14.94 available total storage on my Optimus 7, I have to keep filtering the music I'm syncing with my phone. I really don't understand why manufaturers haven't made more of an effort, especially with a device like the Titan , which is so high-end.

Having been a Zune user, I focused (pardon the pun) on storage.  I got the original focus and added a 32GB microSD. 

So did I. I tried a 8gb earlier and it didn't work. I believe mango fixed many issues.
I stored 2600 songs on it, still have 20gb free.

I have a cvlass 4 42 gb sandisk that I bough bwith the intentikon of asdding it in after mango and since I decided to hold off on a 2nd gen device for now waiting on Nokia 900 to make a final decision  I may go ahead and try the microsd  route. How long did the process take  di you do the ripl sd card format  or just do it once and stick it in?

Jfa you won't be able to change the storage in the Nokia phones. At least, certainly not in the Lumia 800 and I'd bet a good amount of money that it won't be possible in the 710 or 900 either.

Followed instructions, factory reset,  pretty instantaneous. I also cleared all sync groups from zune first.
The risk is if it doesn't work, you wasted the card. And you will need to fill it beyond 8gb to know if it's really ok.

Ricardo, think about that. It makes no sense. This isn't Android or 2008.

  1. HTC apps, all of them combined aren't even 100MB let alone 1GB
  2. They are all uninstallable form system memory anyways

Why there's a difference is curious, but it's not the knee-jerk "bloatware" excuse.

Question to any......do our phones have built in cards that we could probably get to and change? I have an Arrive

Is there anyway we could get our opinions to the OEMs?
Just give us SD cards and normal screen sizes, phones with keyboards every now and then...

Arrive, 14.63 GB.  This was a release-day NODO model.  Will be curious what the new one I ordered, pre-loaded with Mango shows...

whats with all the bigger and bigger screen sizes? htc, listen to the consumers and give more memory and some keyboards
also the reason you arent supposed to access the single sd card is to protect you from yourself. because there are stupid people out there who will get a class 1 32gb sd and say the phone sucks because its slow. they use sd cards because they are much cheaper and easier to get that NAND memory. Microsoft just needs to add support fr multiple sd cards so that there can be two: a main one with the os and an extra slot for the user to upgrade.


if you connect phone to ZUNE you can go into the ZUNE settings and change the RESERV  space   to get the MAXIMUS usage ...

like the FOCUS , AUTOMATICLY saves 5% of your storage .. you can change it to ZERO ..  so you get your FULL 8G
like a PC if you load it to the TOP .. its probly gona suck.. but you can do it.
but i love my focus 8G + 16G SD :P  hahaha WOOT First GEN WP!!

You're probably onto something... the only real consequence to this is that you have to watch your storage usage on your own instead of trusting that WP will reserve that 5% for you.

I specifically got the Samsung Focus because it has expandable memory. I put in a 32 GB SanDisk Class 4 MicroSD card and now my phone shows that I have 36.90 GB of total storage.

thats why i dint get a second GEN WP... and canada dint get any .. but mostly for storage lol.... My apps/Games allone take 8G .. HAHAHAHA

And not a single one with 32 or more gigabytes. I don't see why they didn't optimize WP for SD cards and make it a requirement to have a card slot.

I just unboxed my Titan and plugged it in to charge up the battery, and lo and behold...A NOTIFICATION LED lit up Amber for charging!!!  I didn't see that one in the Reviews for the Titan!!!  Finally, a Noitfication LED on WP7!  Once I get my accounts and such set up, I will see if this LED was designed for messaging/email as well as battery status.
 On another note... I am back in business!  I have not seen build quality like this since my Nokia E62.  

Pretty sure all (or most) HTC WPs have a notification light. Used to indicate charging status and missed call. Nothing else. Got one on my Gen1 Surround.

Microsoft and the Manufacturers know what they are up against.  They are pushing XBOX live games and Zune player to compete with Android and the iPhone, than give no options to large memory capacity.  Love my "S", but I do not use a lot of memory.  Same with my wife and her Titan.  Very, very weird.
I like Strange, strange is fun.  I do not like Weird.....

LOL!! my Venue Pro comes with 15.03 GB!!! this is why i'm not convinced to jump over to 2nd wave phones. Plus my phone looks better than every current 2nd generation phones.

My IS12T has 32GB of built in storage and only 28.36GB available for me to use. No complaints about only having 28GB of storage to use. :D

14.63GB on my Surround, and still have 5.8GB free after 13 months, with nearly 200 apps, 713 photos, 629 songs and about 50 video clips.

I'm on an original Samsung Focus. I bought a 32GB SD card to put in it the same day. It shows 36.9GB total storage. The SD Card support was the sole reason I went with the Focus; otherwise I would have gone with the HTC HD7. 
There's no way I can go back to 16 or 8 gigs. If they aren't going to bring SD Card support back, then someone at least has to release a phone with more than 32GB of storage onboard.

Dell Venue Pro (Generic EU)
Using a 32GB class 4 Sandisk.

Apparently WP7 creates a single file system that spans both the internal memory and the microSD card. The benefit of this is that you don't need to worry about what is stored where. Also I have recent memories of the WM6.5 marketplace, which insisted on installing apps to the internal memory!

Except for the fact that you can buy a 32gb and a 64gb version of the Iphone.  That is really the issue here.  If MS phones had more storage available, nobody would care how much the core OS and apps are taking up.

In the Desktop version of Zune in the phone settings, there is a slider thatballows you to adjust how much of your storage goes to apps and windows phonev itself, or how much you want to allocate to 'your stuff'.

As jimski said, 14.63 available on HTC Surround. I've had the phone for about 10 months... Still have over 6gb left even though I'm a heavy gamer. I'm jealous of the Titan in many regards, but that available storage is not amazing. Still, judging by my usage, it'd be more than enough.

14.63 GB avaiable on the Trophy. I can't wait till Verizon gets a better phone, though I am surprised that the Trophy is near the top on storage.

I believe this is the real issue of WP7 going forward in the marketplace.  Because of memory (16GB max) and screen (WVGA 800x480) constraints WP7 is competing against entry level only.  While it can be argued fairly successfully that WP7 doesn't need dual core or tons of ram it is obvious when you look at an iPhone (Retina) high end Android (qHD 960x540) or 720P (1280x720) that WP7 doesn't match up - these differences are very noticeable side by side.  The other problem is side by side doesn't exist for WP7.  When I asked my Verizon retailer about it she said it was up to manufacturers to provide these handsets. At my retailer there is NO WP7 materials and they have NO WP7 handsets in stock.  I wouldn't buy a Trophy anyways (I don't care how smooth WP7 is) - its two year old tech and even with WP7 I won't count on that Hardware holding up for a full two years.   The other one is storage especially with the size of multimedia collections.  Even low end Android (free ones) have micro sd expansion to 32 GB.  And they play music quite well.  At the high end, iPhone has a 64 GB model and Android has 16 GB internal and 32 GB external.  I have even read that some of the new 64 GB sdxc cards will work in standard handsets.  I know there are many people with medium (15-20 GB collections) and large 30GB and up collections.  Don't tell me the cloud (Zune, Amazon, iCloud, Google) is going to fill the gap in current environment of tiered data plans.  WP7 needs to compete at the High, Medium and low ends (which iPhone now does a superb job of:  Free 3GS, $99 iPhone 4 and $199 iPhone 4S).  I'm still amazed at how many people will pick a lower end device to save $50 over a two year contract.

People have you ever heard of Skydrive???? Microsoft gives you 25 gigabyte free storage space. This were I dump all my music and files. Maybe reason why don't need micro sd card. LoL.....