Difference Between Device Storage and iCloud Storage on iPhone

Your phone has two different storage spaces, and they are bound to confuse you. This article aims at clearing your thoughts on the difference between the Device Storage and the iCloud storage on your iPhone.

Device storage indicates the quantum of physical storage that is available in your phone at any given point of time. It is very similar to the hard drive of a computer. The other type of storage that Apple offers its users is “iCloud Storage”, and it is through a cloud. Sounds simple, right? One drawback of iCloud is that you need to connect your phone to an active internet connection to access it. However, its penultimate advantage that it is physically separated from your phone and thus protects your data if your phone is ever stolen or damaged overpowers all negatives.

Difference Between Device Storage and iCloud Storage on iPhone

The difference between these two can be frustrating especially if you are a newbie to the world of Apple. Sometimes though you may have space available on your iCloud, you might not be able to go ahead with installing an app because of the constant error of “insufficient device storage” flashing on your screen

When you purchase an iPhone, you are offered several versions of the same. You are free to choose any one of them for your use. Here’s a list of options that are generally available to you-

  1. You can choose between iPhone and iPhone Plus
  2. You can choose among the different carrier modes.
  3. You can choose among the five amazing colours.
  4. You can choose among 32 GB (only available in some colours), 128 GB or 256 GB options.


The selection made by you will determine the amount of device storage that will be ultimately available to you on your phone. This means that the storage which will be available to you to download more apps, store photos or perform many other activities depends on the choice you make in the last option. You should be very careful while making this choice as it is effectively set in stone and you won’t be able to upgrade the same in future. You can only get an upgrade of the same by changing the device altogether.

On the other hand, the amount of storage available in iCloud is fixed at 5GB. This storage can be utilised to store device backups, sync photos, put photos in your iCloud, save pictures and perform other additional activities. Unlike your device storage, you can upgrade this storage available to you if need be. For this, you only need to purchase a storage update. This means that you will need to pay a monthly or yearly additional fee to Apple to avail the facilities of extra storage.

If you want to see detailed coverage of both the types of storage options being used on your phone, you can follow the given steps –

  • Go to the Settings
  • Now, open the General option.
  • Go to Storage and Devices.

There you will be able to see the total and available amount of storage on your phone. If you are confused that the total of used and available storage quantum does not add up to the storage you enrolled for, let me tell you that some of this storage space is also used up by the iOS. For example, if you have a 32GB iPhone, then for all practical purposes you only have 27.39 GB of usable storage space.

Next, you can have a look at the storage available to you in the iCloud section. This storage reflects the storage available to you away from the physical storage on your phone in the cloud.

To see a detailed summary chart of the amount of storage being used by the various apps on your hone, you can choose the Manage Storage option in the Storage section.

Similarly, if you choose the same Manage Storage option in the iCloud section, you will be able to see the proportion of the storage that is allocated to various requirements in your iCloud.

If you own several devices and want to club all of the data together so that you don’t lose any of the data in future, you can do so too. This way all of the data that you have on all of the Apple devices that you possess will be in sync for all future references. Moreover, recently Apple has also come up with Messages in iCloud. Earlier, backup used to happen in huge chunks. Now, it will happen in little ones. Moreover, you will be able to store the messages on all your devices both the iMessages as well as the SMS together on one cloud. Whenever you make changes in the message for instance if you delete a message or a thread, the changes will appear simultaneously on all of the devices so you won’t need to make the same modifications repetitively. Earlier, whenever you changed your phone, you lost out on your previous messages. Now, with even your messages backed up on your iCloud, there is no chance of you losing them. Whenever you purchase a new device, you can sync the messages on it. You will then have access to even your older messages and not just recently received ones.

If you are running out of storage on your device and want to install some new apps, movies or videos, then you don’t have any other option but to delete the existing one and then make some space for the newer ones.

If you want to save on storage space while using the iCloud photo library, you can do so by either turning on the option of optimising storage or by deleting some content from your apps.

If you have any further queries regarding the same, please feel free to ask in the comments section