In 2023, Apple must fix its embarrassing 5GB iCloud limit

It’s 2030 and Apple has released its first foldable iPhone, the iPhone 21 Pro Ultra Max Fold. You can get up to 4TB of storage and prices start at $2,500. But you still only have 5GB of free iCloud storage.

Was just a joke. Well, about the hardware part. It’s almost 2023, and yes, Apple is still only giving you 5GB of free storage with iCloud. Serious? There’s no denying that 5GB is literally nothing these days. It’s shocking how Apple continues to only offer 5GB for free when even competitors are offering slightly more before moving to paid tiers. Heading into 2023, it’s time for Apple to improve on that — even if it’s just a little bit.

5GB is no longer a realistic number

iCloud storage on iPhone
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

It’s easy to see why Apple is stingy when it comes to free iCloud storage: Apple is a company and wants to encourage users to pay for iCloud. That’s fine, but I hardly think 5GB is enough for most people to even determine if they need or want anything.

These days 5GB might not even be enough for a vacation if you want to take lots of photos and videos to remember your trip. This is especially true for a device like the iPhone 14 Pro, which is capable of capturing full-resolution ProRaw photos and 48MP ProRes video, with the latter requiring up to 6GB of storage space for just a minute of 4K footage.

One of the most useful cases for iCloud is iCloud backup, which you can transfer and restore to a new iPhone or iPad. This is how I have been backing up my own iPhone data for a number of years. Luckily, starting with iOS 15, Apple made a change to allow users unlimited free storage for the sole purpose of backing up their apps and data to iCloud. However, this backup is only stored for three weeks, giving you 21 days to restore this data to your new device.

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While that’s a step forward, I still think it’s about time Apple ditched the 5GB free tier and topped it up. It just isn’t enough, and if you look at the competition, other companies are a lot more generous.

Apple is lagging behind the competition

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The first major competitor that comes to mind is Google. And yes, Google gives you more free storage than Apple. Each individual Google account comes with 15GB of free storage through Google One, but it’s shared between Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos.

That might be enough for most people, but if not, Google also offers more storage through its paid Google One plans. You can get 100GB for $2 per month, 200GB for $3 per month, 2TB for $10 per month, or 5TB for $25 per month. As you can see, even with the paid plans, you get four options to cover most people’s needs.

Apple, on the other hand, is not only stingy with the free amount, but also with the paid plans. The cheapest iCloud storage plan is 50GB for $1 per month. Plans escalate from there to 200GB for $3 per month and 2TB for $10 per month. There’s also the Apple One Premium plan with 2TB of shared storage for up to six people, and you can also get up to 2TB of standalone iCloud storage, for a total of up to 4TB.

I suppose most people could probably get by with 50GB, so a dollar a month really isn’t much. But if you need even something more, you’ll have to jump to the next tier, which is 200GB. It seems that Google offers a sensible and balanced mix of storage tiers, giving people some wiggle room with the base tier before jumping to the next tier.

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There are other competitors for cloud syncing and backup services, like Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive, but they also offer horrendous amounts of storage for free: 2GB and 5GB respectively. However, both are more for your files and documents (perhaps photos and videos if you want a different backup method), so I wouldn’t say they fall under the exact same umbrella term as iCloud and Google One.

It’s almost 2023 – something has to happen

iPhone 14 Pro and Google Pixel 7 Pro.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Personally, I pay for Apple One Premium, so I have 2TB of iCloud storage along with everything else in this bundle. But I know older family members who keep getting error messages saying their iCloud storage is full because they still have the free 5GB plan and don’t want to buy more. This is probably more of a software issue than a hardware issue, as Digital Trends Senior Mobile Writer Andy Boxall mentioned in a previous article. Still, I think Apple could toss everyone a bone and up the ante from that measly 5GB to something more usable, like at least the Google One’s 15GB.

It’s been a long time since Apple has released an iPhone with 1TB of storage, so there might be one some glimmer of hope. I doubt it’ll increase in 2023, but hey, maybe in five years or so we can have a little over 5GB of free iCloud storage. Maybe it’ll be just in time when the iPhone Flip comes out.

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