Average Storage Capacity in Smartphones to Cross 80GB by End-2019

The era of 1TB storage in smartphones has begun. Samsung has introduced the Galaxy S10 Plus with 1TB NAND flash memory, which is the highest storage specification of the Galaxy S10 series released this March.

Strictly speaking, the Galaxy S10 Plus is not the world’s first 1TB smartphone, but it is the first mainstream smartphone to be launched with such high storage. Last May, the Chinese brand, Smartisan released a 1TB capacity smartphone called the Nut T1, but its sales were minimal as awareness for the product was low.

Now that 1TB storage has reached the mainstream, the question is how large will your smartphone’s storage be going ahead? Counterpoint Research expects the average NAND flash memory capacity of smartphones to reach 83GB by the end of this year. This is an increase of 32% year-on-year and nearly twice the global average of 43GB at the end of 2017. In terms of storage in smartphones by operating systems, we expect that the average storage capacity of Android smartphones to be at 68GB and iOS at 166GB by the end of 2019.

Major smartphone OEMs are launching their flagship models every year and with each launch, the NAND flash memory capacity keeps going higher. Apple first introduced the 256GB storage to its iPhone 7 series, which was launched in 2016, and began shipping the 512GB storage with 2018’s iPhone XS. A month before the iPhone XS, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 9 with a 512GB of NAND flash memory. A few months later and we already have the 1TB storage with the Galaxy S10 Plus.

Storage of 1TB capacity is comparable to that of a premium laptop. It can store up to 250 standard 4GB movies. Why do smartphones need these increasingly large capacities? The answer is in the amount of data that users take every day through their smartphone camera. The size of smartphone photos has increased exponentially as the number of pixels has increased. The increase in the number of high-capacity smartphone apps including mobile games is another one reason driving the need for greater storage capacity. This trend will continue with the commercialization of 5G as high-capacity storage is essential to support high-speed communication, AI technology, AR/VR and high-definition/4K content.

Exhibit 1: Global Average Smartphone NAND Flash Capacity Trends (GBs)

Global Average Smartphone NAND Flash Capacity Trends (GBs)