Android robot figure.
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Storage is one of the few phone features you have a choice about. You can’t choose the processor in the latest Samsung phone, but you can choose between 128GB or 256GB of storage. So let’s make the right choice.

Unsurprisingly, this really comes down to how you personally use your Android phone. Everyone has different usage habits. For some, 128GB is enough. Other people may run up against the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 1TB. It depends on a few things.

RELATED: Is It Worth Paying Extra for the Galaxy S22 Ultra?

What Takes Up Storage Space?

android free up storage hero

Let’s start by looking at what things actually take up the most storage space on your phone. Again, this will depend on how you use your phone, but we can make some general observations.

The two biggest users of storage for almost everyone will be system files and apps/games. System files include the operating system and everything that goes along with making your phone actually usable. Apps can build up files after you download them and games sometimes require a lot of extra files too.

The next big storage eaters are most likely photos and videos. High-resolution photos and videos from modern Android phones can take up a lot of space. If you’re one of those people that never deletes anything, this is probably the area where you need more storage.

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Beyond that, the next things are music, documents, and downloads. These things are really dependent on the person. If you use streaming music services, you probably don’t have any music files on your phone. Someone that works a lot with PDFs might have tons of those files.

In general, these are the things taking up space on your Android phone that you can control. Apps, games, photos, videos, music, documents, and downloads.

RELATED: How to Free Up Storage Space on Your Android Phone with Files by Google

How to Check How Much Storage Space You Use

There’s a good chance you already have an Android phone, which means we can look at how you’ve been using your storage already. It’s easy to check how much storage you’re using and which things are using the most.

First, swipe down once to twice from the top of the screen and tap the gear icon.

Then go to “Storage.” If you have a Samsung phone, you’ll go to “Battery and Device Care” first.

Select "Storage."

Here we can see how much storage you’re using, how much is left, and which things are using the most. There are a few things to take note of here.

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The most obvious is how much of your allotted storage you’re using. In this case, I have a 128GB phone and I’m using 89GB of it. Let’s scroll down and see what’s using it.

Storage usage.

Videos and images are responsible for about 17GB of that. I back up my photos to the cloud and occasionally clear out the old stuff. I have very few documents and games, plus all my music listening is done over streaming.

Storage usage categories.

I’ve used this phone for over a year, which tells me 128GB is a good amount for my usage habits. I am basically just using the storage for photos and videos. For my next phone, I know 128GB is probably going to be fine.

How Much Storage Do I Need?

Now you can use this information to decide how much storage you need. If you are only keeping photos and videos and you’re not taking a crazy amount of them, 128GB with some cloud storage is most likely going to be enough.

Alternatively, if you don’t take a lot of photos, but you do like to keep your music library locally, you will also probably be fine with 128GB. That’s a much easier thing to figure out, though, as you can see the size of your music library.

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It’s when you start bundling these things together that you should look to the bigger storage options. Taking a lot of photos and storing all your music on the device is going to eat up storage quickly. Playing a lot of big, intensive games and downloading large files every day is going to add up.

As a general rule, if all of your storage is being used in just one of these areas, you’ll probably be fine with 128GB. Otherwise, it’s time to spend a little more on some extra storage or clear out some space.

RELATED: How to Free Up Storage Space on Your Android Phone

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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