iPad Capacity – How much do you need 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB?

iPad Help, Tips & Tricks
// November 17, 2011

People that are contemplating on purchasing an iPad may be wondering wether to purchase a 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB iPad. We are going to estimate how many apps, photos, movies and songs you can store on the various models to give you an idea on which model you might need.

One thing you should be aware of is the operating system for the iPad (iOS) and the core apps that installed such as, Safari, Mail, App Store, iTunes, etc. take up about 2GB. So your 16GB iPad will give you a little less than 14GB of actual free space.

iPad Comparison Chart

The chart relies on estimates and is meant just to give an idea of the storage capacities of the different iPad models. Using less of one category such as photos and movies will allow more room for other categories like apps or music. In the chart we have allotted a percentage to what we think the average user might use.

16 GB ($499)
32 GB ($599)
64 GB ($699)
Music500 Songs / 2 GB1000 songs / 4GB2000 / 8 GB
Photos2600 photos / 2 GB5200 photos / 4GB10400 photos / 8 GB
Apps72 apps / 6 GB168 apps / 14 GB336 apps / 28 GB
Movies3 (SD) movies / 3 GB
12 (SD) TV Shows
6 (SD) movies / 6 GB
24 (SD) TV Shows
14 (SD) movies / 14 GB
56 (SD) TV Shows
Everything Else


Books, magazines, mail, etc. / 1 GBBooks, magazines, mail, etc. / 2 GBBooks, magazines, mail, etc. / 4 GB
Total14 GB (other 2 GB is for iOS and Apple apps.)30 GB (other 2 GB is for iOS and Apple apps.)62 GB (other 2 GB is for iOS and Apple apps.)



A song that lasts 4 minutes at 128kbps comes to a little less than 4 MB. So on average you will fit 250 songs for every gigabyte you use for music on your iPad. The number of songs will be less for higher bitrates.

There are many other ways to listen to music on your iPad without using much space. I use iTunes Home Sharing which is free and allows you to access your entire iTunes music library over Wi-Fi. There are also plenty of great music apps that will stream music to your iPad such as, Pandora, Groovebug, SoundHound, Vevo and more.


When you sync photos to your iPad they are optimized for viewing on the tablet. The iTunes software not only optimizes the photos for the screen size but they are compressed as well. The photos are compressed to about 20% of the original file size while filling the iPad’s entire screen in amazing quality.

The number of photos that you can fit on your iPad will depend on the original file size of the photos but on average you will be able to store over 1300 photos per gigabyte.


For most users apps will consume most space on their device. The file sizes for apps are extremely broad. There are some apps that are as little as a few megabytes (Wall of Sound is 1.8 MB) and the are some games that are over 1 GB (Modern Combat 3).

To give you an idea, I currently have over 60 apps and that are taking up 5 GB. It’s going to depend on the apps that you have to determine how space they will take up.

Here are some examples of files sizes for some popular apps.

  • Pages – 95.0 MB
  • Numbers – 109 MB
  • Keynote – 115 MB
  • The Daily – 35.1 MB
  • Angry Birds Rio HD – 19.4 MB
  • Scrabble – 15.2 MB
  • GoodReader – 12.6 MB
  • Shadowgun – 214 MB
  • RealRacing 2 HD – 440 MB
  • Asphalt 6: Adrenaline – 515 MB
  • Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation – 1.0.5 GB

The file size that is actually on your iPad will increase after doing things in the app like, saving documents, newspapers, games, etc.

I have a variety of apps and if I average the number of apps I have with the total amount of space they are taking up I get about 80 MB per app. Again that is just an example and a way to estimate the number of apps the average user will be able to fit on their iPad.

Movies and TV shows

File sizes for movies can vary depending on length and quality. A 90 minute movie in standard definition (SD) is around 1.5 GB and a 90 minute movie in high definition (HD) will be approximately 3 GB.

A 30 minute TV show is approximately 22 minutes without the commercials, which means about 4 episodes will take up about 1.5 GB.

iPads are good devices for watching movies and TV shows but it’s never going to replace a TV. The iPad is more of a companion for your TV. The main reason to store movies on the tablet would be for its portability. Watching movies on an iPad is a great way to pass time during a long flight or car ride so, it’s makes sense to have a few on the device.

Everything Else

I recommend on leaving some free space on your iPad. The space can be used for books, magazines, podcasts, mail, notes, voice memos and other items that use up space. Most of these thing are small files but they can add up.

For example, the free Winnie-the-Pooh book is 9.6 MB and the iPad 2 user guide is 7 MB. You will be able to store a lot of books using little space. However, due to magazines having more images (some have videos also) they will be larger in size.

The iPad is a great way to listen or watch podcast but as long as you have a Wi-Fi or data connection there’s no need to download them, unless you want to be able to listen or watch them later without being connected to the internet. Otherwise, you can stream podcasts to your device while using the iTunes app.


I think most people will find that a 16GB iPad has enough storage to get by unless they want to store several movies or a large music collection. There are good alternatives for steaming music and movies but if you are without Wi-Fi or a data connection you will need the content on the device.

One other thing to note is there are no slots to add storage capacity, so if you find yourself wanting more you may have to wait until you purchase your next iPad.

One thought on “iPad Capacity – How much do you need 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB?

  1. Colette says:

    This was great information. Best help, more thorough and easiest to understand. Thank you very much.

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