When will smartphones have 1 terabyte of storage? Probably around 2021

While I’m no fan of Apple, the iPhone has so far been the leader in performance and storage. The internal storage of Apple’s latest and greatest iPhone provides a good benchmark for the current level of storage of the entire smartphone industry. When an iPhone with a new level of storage comes out, every manufacturer plays catch-up with Apple releases a flagship phone of similar storage.

Here is a chart that shows the trend in iPhone in internal storage. It extrapolates the trend into the future to predict when the iPhone will likely have one terabyte of internal storage (blue is historical storage levels, orange is predicted, and the dotted line is the trendline):

The chart assumes an exponential trend, since storage density and prices have followed an exponential increase and reduction trend.

I assumed that from 2018 through 2020, the iPhone will stay at 512 GB, similar to how it remained at 64 GB from 2011 through 2013. It is possible that instead of this, the iPhone will stay at 256 GB from 2017 through 2019. This will not significantly affect the historical trend.

Here is the same chart with the forecast extended to 2030. The trendline predicts an internal storage of 5 terabytes in 2027 and 10 terabytes in 2029.

I know that 10 terabytes in a smartphone may seem unnecessarily high. But historical trends show that every age can find good (and frivolous) uses for all the storage it can get.

Below is a table of every iPhone release date, device name, highest offered storage and battery capacity:

Release Date
Device Storage (GB)
Battery (mAh)
June 29, 2007 iPhone 1 16 1400
July 11, 2008 iPhone 3G 16 1150
June 19 2009 iPhone 3GS 32 1219
June 24, 2010 iPhone 4 32 1420
October 14, 2011 iPhone 4S 64 1432
September 21, 2012 iPhone 5 64 1440
September 20, 2013 iPhone 5S 64 1560
September 19, 2014 iPhone 6 128 1810
September 25, 2015 iPhone 6S 128 1715
September 16, 2016 iPhone 7 256 1960

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