Google Pixel: Here's how much space you really get in the 32GB models

Google's Pixel phones only come in two storage configurations — a base model 32GB, and a pricey 128GB model, for which you'll pay a $100 premium. So if you're looking to save some cash on what's already a pretty expensive phone, you might be wondering just how much space you really get on the cheaper 32GB Pixel. Well, here's the answer.

It's not as simple as a single number, because of the way Android app updates work, but here's a quick breakdown:

  • The formatted capacity of the phone is 29.7GB — that's how much space there is in total.
  • The OS takes up 5.39GB, leaving you with around 24.3GB of space for your own stuff on a freshly unboxed 32GB Pixel
  • ... But updates to built-in apps have to come out of that. Google's demo units had 1.22GB taken up by apps, so a more realistic starting number would be around 23GB

A few things to note here. Even if you don't install any third-party apps, subsequent updates to built-in apps will whittle that number down further, over time. That's because updates to preinstalled apps occupy the same space as newly installed apps from the Play Store. (Even if you don't update, just using your phone accumulates cached data which also takes up space.)

MORE: How to free up storage space on Android

Secondly, more than 5GB might seem a bit steep for what's still a relatively barebones Android 7.1 experience, but it's worth remembering that Nougat's seamless updates feature is likely at play here. In order to update faster and more easily — and with less chance of bricking due to a software update — phones shipping with Android 7.0 or above duplicate the partitions where the Android OS lives. This redundancy is a good thing, but it also takes up a few extra gigabytes.

MORE: How seamless updates work in Android 7.0

Still, 23GB (give or take) is about on par with what you'd expect from a modern 32GB Android phone — the real test will come when the likes of Samsung and LG start pushing out mid-range phones with Nougat. Losing a few extra gigabytes on a 32GB "Google experience" phone isn't a huge deal. But factor in a heavier UI layer (like Samsung's TouchWiz) and more built-in apps, and a future 16GB handset might end up with a lot less space available to the user.

Alex Dobie
Executive Editor

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.