Are you always cursing yourself for settling with the 16GB iPhone when you could have used the space of the 64GB model? Why is the iPhone memory price so expensive when a 16GB Micro SD card only costs $10?
The price difference between the different memory size options for iPhones is a lot higher than some people expect, especially with how much cheaper an equivalent amount of storage goes for on other storage media. For example, there is a $130 difference between the 16GB and 64GB iPhone 6 in Canada – while a 64 GB micro SD card can go for a little as $25 on Amazon.
So why is this the case? The answer can be broken down into two main factors. The first is quality of the memory, and the second is called price differentiation. Let’s tackle this one at a time.
1) Memory Quality
Not all memory is created equal. Size is only one factor when it comes to different memory storage. Micro SD cards may be able to hold a comparable amount of storage in Gigabytes, however they suffer in some other areas.
Relatively speaking, Micro SD cards are only meant to have information recorded onto them occasionally, while that information can be read from the card a lot more frequently without consequences. This makes them a great long-term storage media to hold things such as songs and photographs, but if the data on the card is constantly being altered it will eventually fail. Ultimately, the low price of Micro SD cards come with reduced reliability.
Another factor is speed. Cheaper Micro SD cards also come with slower read and write speeds. A traditional Digital Camera that uses SD or Micro SD cards takes a lot longer to save a photograph to memory than your iPhone does – especially when using features such as video or burst mode. There are Micro SD cards with faster speeds, but they also come at a higher price.
What does this mean for an iPhone?
Ultimately, an iPhone’s internal storage needs to be fast and reliable in order to meet the expectations of users. People expect everything to load and save instantly, and we are constantly doing different things that causes data to be altered. Additionally, the storage must continue to work well for the lifetime of the device (at least three years of almost constant use). In order to accomplish this, Apple uses higher quality memory, and restricts users from expanding their storage with a Micro SD card.
When all is said and done, the memory requirements of the iPhone make it more complicated than simply inserting a card, however the actual price difference between the amounts of memory is still much less than the ~$100 difference between iPhone models. That brings us to our second factor:
2) iPhone Memory Price Differentiation
Apple sets a minimum price for the iPhone base model partially on how much it costs to manufacture, but also how much buyers are willing to pay for the device. To be able to charge some people more for essentially the same product, Apple needs to give some sort of incentive – so they use internal storage.
Actual price aside, storage has value to people – you get more use out of the iPhone in terms number of apps, photos, songs, and videos stored on your device at a time. Although the memory limitation is imposed by Apple in the first place, many consumers are willing to pay extra for the convenience of not having to worry about space. This is called “tiered pricing,” and Apple has been doing this for a years. Ever since the first iPod came out, there have been different versions based on storage size – the iPhone memory price is no different.
The storage on the iPhone is higher quality than you find in most Micro SD cards, but Apple also charges significantly more than the real cost… because they can.