Can You Upgrade iPhone Memory?

mophie space pack iphone memory
The mophie Space Pack extends battery life and storage capacity for iPhones. image copyright mophie inc.
Was this page helpful?

Every iPhone is crammed full of music, photos, apps, and data (to say nothing of videos, ebooks and audiobooks, and other content), and all of that material can take up a lot of storage space. Even with iPhones that offer 128GB of storage, it's not hard to imagine running out of memory.   

Other mobile phones—like many Android devices, for instance—offer expandable memory to allow their owners to increase the storage capacity of their phones.

But those are Android devices; what about iPhones? Can you buy expanded memory for iPhone?

No Built-In Expansion

The most efficient way to expand an iPhone's memory would be to add more internal storage, but that's not possible. There’s no option for expandable memory for iPhone.

In order to increase the storage capacity of a mobile phone, the phone needs to include a slot for removable storage media like an SD card or MemoryStick. The iPhone has no slot for removable storage (the iPhone is famous for including as few additional ports and slots as possible; this may also be related to why its battery isn't user replaceable). 

The other way to add more internal memory would be to have a third-party company install it. I'm unaware of any company that provides that service (and, if they exist, would advise you to avoid it; it would void the phone's warranty and could damage the phone).   

Two Key Accessories

Sounds bleak?

Well, not thanks to a pair of iPhone accessory makers.

Mophie, which has made a line of very good expanded-life battery packs, now offers the Space Pack, an iPhone case that both expands battery life and storage space.

This accessory, which the iPhone snaps into, offers up to 100% more battery life (according to the manufacturer) as well as an additional 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage.

 By comparing prices at multiple stores you'll be able to save some money.

While adding a case is not quite as elegant as internal memory, it's the next best thing in terms of portability and weight. 

A second company, Sanho, offers its own external memory option for iOS devices in the form of its Hyper iStick. The iStick is a small drive that connects to the Lightning port on the iPhone 5 and newer models (or the USB port on computers and other mobile devices) and offers 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage. 

As a protruding attachment, the iStick isn't the most usable or elegant device, but it does offer a solid amount of extra storage.

Wireless External Hard Drives

There's also another option for adding storage to your iPhone: Wi-Fi-connected hard drives. Not all external hard drives with Wi-Fi features can be used with your iPhone—you'll need to find one that offers a compatible app. If you do, though, you can add hundreds of gigabytes, or even terabytes, of storage to your phone. 

Before you take this route, though, there are two things to consider:

  1. Portability—Even a small, portable hard drive isn't as portable as your phone or a case. You won't want to bring your hard drive everywhere, so whatever you have stored on it won't be available all the time.
  1. Integration with iPhone apps—Because the hard drive is external, the data stored on it is treated as a separate data source from your iPhone's internal memory. As a result, photos stored on your hard drive will be accessed through the hard drive's app, not your phone's Photos app. 

On the plus side, an external hard drive can also be used with a Mac or PC computer, so it offers added versatility. Compare prices on iPhone-compatible hard drives:

RAM vs. Storage Space

Technically, "memory" can mean two things when it comes to computers and mobile devices: storage for your data and the RAM (memory chips) that the device uses to run programs.

While there are a few options for expanding your iPhone's storage capacity, there aren't any options for upgrading your device's RAM. Doing so would require not only opening the iPhone's case, which would void its warranty and render it susceptible to damage, but also removing and resoldering electronics on the phone's hardware--that is very risky at best and a major cause of damage at worst. Bottom line: Don't do it.  

Need to install a new version of the iOS? We've got a few more tips to help you load that update on your phone!


E-Commerce Content is independent of editorial content and we may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page.