Deciding Whether Or Not to Get The 16, 32, or 64GB iPad

I’m sure there are some that may be disappointed that Apple didn’t drop the 16GB iPad and instead make 32GB the new entry level option. I can certainly understand that line of reasoning in 2012. We now have a display that is exactly double the resolution of the previous generation, which means many things.

For developers, it means including 2x image assists in their iOS apps, which I’m sure you realize by now are considerably larger PNGs, making the final build of your app in order of magnitude larger than what they used to be. For users, it means the average iPad app will be dramatically larger in size, which explains why Apple has updated the 3G download cap to 50MB — up from 20MB respectively. Where we’re going to see huge differences in app sizes is going to be games. There are already numerous A-list games in the App Store that are in excess of 1GB. These sizes of course seem tiny when you compare modern games made for your Mac that are in excess of 10GB, however on a mobile device there are size restrictions you need to work with. Of course, game developers are going to want to include much higher resolution artwork to take advantage of the Retina display, and not to mention the much faster quad core GPU.

Higher resolution artwork and more polygons in our iPad games means much larger downloads. We may not be there yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see some complex iOS games hit 2GB in size in 2013. So this begs the question, should one get the 16GB model, or perhaps splurge on the 32 or even 64GB models? This is a more complex question, and the answer depends on what exactly you plan on doing with your iPad. I can only give some suggestions and explain how I plan on using the device. Let me back track just a bit and discuss why Apple is still including a 16GB model. I don’t believe this warrants great exposition. I believe this really just comes down to the cost of flash storage. Even though Apple does have massive buying power with various flash storage companies, the overall general cost of flash storage hasn’t changed much in the last twelve months. This probably has a lot to do with various natural disasters that happened in Japan and Asia of late, but regardless, if Apple could have managed to give everyone 32GB of storage at the price of last years 16GB, certainly they would have done this by now.

While I deliberate over whether I’m going to wait in line this Friday for a new iPad, I have been giving equal consideration to how much storage space I’m going to need on my iPad. Since 2008, I’ve been using a various 16GB iPhones, and haven’t really filled them up to the brim. I don’t sync video or keep many games on my iPhone, or take a lot of video for that matter. I don’t think this will change with the iPad, even though it can take HD video, I really don’t want to be holding up a 9.7” tablet to take photos or video. Other than the standard things I will do, such as browsing, email, Twitter, Facebook, I can keep myself entertained with Netflix or Instacast for all of my podcasting needs. As for games, I tend to only keep a handful of titles on the device. I usually try to play games that have a story line that take anywhere from 3-10 hours to complete. I’m not such a big fan of the smaller time wasters like Angry Birds. The thing that would take a ton of space on my device is music, however, thanks to the absolute mess that is iCloud music, the experience is so horrendous that I don’t dare try to download music on my iOS device anymore. So, from now on I’ll probably end up just using a streaming music service like Rdio. Even though I have my own entire CD collection ripped, it’s just too much of a pain for me to deal with, and I don’t want to go back to syncing music with iTunes — you know just how much fun that is.

To summarize:

  • I won’t sync my music
  • I won’t sync video
  • I won’t be taking photos or HD video
  • I probably will only have a couple of big title games installed, which means maybe 4-5GB max of games installed at any given point.

I think it’s still going to be safe for me to get the 16GB Wi-Fi only model this Friday. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I doubt my mind will change come March 16th.