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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 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.

132 Comments
  • There really is no excuse for phones not to have an SD card slot anymore (and playing the Apple or cloud cards doesn't wash with me, sorry).
  • Or if you are charging £600 then start at 64GB
  • Totally agree, at these prices 64gb should have been the starting point.
    You can't price a phone like an Apple or Samsung high end device and expect it to sell in my opinion.
  • This was intentional. Eliminate the 64gb model and guarantee 128gb upgrade.
  • Late, but this. Something that's twice the price of my Oneplus 3 should at least match it.
  • I guess you answered my question of no SD slot.
  • SD cards in a phone are completely useless now move on already stop staying in the past
  • "completely useless" hahah lol how are you going to live with 32gb on your phone then?
  • Lol.. What the hell are people putting on their phones !? I've had a 32gb for 3 years now. I have 10gb free still.
  • Really? Locally stored music, pics and vids? Backups? downloaded google maps? Come on now. 32 GB is not sufficient for a lot of people, depending on how you use your phone. i need a lot more than 23 GB available and dont' the cloud is not an excuse.
  • Google fixed the problem with Photos and Videos, by giving you unlimited free storage with Google Photos.
  • but it doesn't record directly to the cloud obviously, and if you wanna record 4K video, you'll be out of storage quickly, right? I mean im debating hard to get the 32GB at the moment but don't know.. :[
  • you must have only apps on your phone.
  • Alot, doesn't mean all. Know the difference.
  • you obviously havent used your phone at all. i have 32gb htc m9. used the 32gb in the first month. now have a 64 gb sd card. what is the spaced used for? photos, videos, apps. the more advanced technology becomes the more space needed.
  • By buying the 128GB SKU, I'd reckon. I mean, if you're paying that much for a phone, and can't pay a little more for 4x the storage... Why are you buying the phone to begin with? Probably need the money for more important things.
  • I will be just fine with 32gig. Was fine with it in my 6p still have 10gig open. Not everyone has their library downloaded on their phone. I agree that it would have been nicer had Google started at 64, but I can see the strategy here. If 32 seems small, then most of the phones woukd probably opt for the 128gig models with higher profit margins. One problem, the Blue model was only available in 32gig, 128 wasn't even an option. That was the only puzzling thing for me yesterday.
  • I appreciate not everyone wants or needs an SD card in their phone but to say they're completely useless is just stupid, there's a million reasons why people would want one.
  • Not the least of which a lot of folks out there don't want Google to store their pictures and videos.
  • If you are purchasing a phone that is heavily influenced by Google's AI and cloud capabilities but refuse to upload your photos to the cloud because you don't want google to have them you have more identity issues than you may care to admit. This is why 32 gb base on the pixel works.
  • It doesn't. I use Google photos and don't really leave anything on my phone. But regular use builds up app sizes and some games are pretty bulky. 32gb would fill up fast.
  • I put people who claim that SD Cards are completely useless on the same level as people who say "Google gives you a 127GB option, just get that. No big deal." Except the $100 price differential is a very big deal, especially in the era of being able to get a decent phone for $200. A 64GB SD card will cost me $20, not the $100 for the next best storage option. So if Google insists on starting the base storage at 32GB, an SD card certainly isn't useless. It would be more forgiving if the base was 64, or if they offered an option between the 32 and 128.
  • And that's the problem. If you're willing to use a $20 SD card then you don't get it. They are kinda saving you from yourself.
  • Uh, there are reasons why people would still want one. Granted, internal storage will always be faster and more reliable, but I do generally like it when we are given the choice, though it would be nice if we have both large amounts of internal storage AND the option to expand if needed.
  • Choice is power! I am pro choice.
  • Personally for myself I agree, but for many i see why SD cards are important. I take A LOT of photos, and i back them up with a mixture of "hard" copies on a dedicated NAS as well as in the cloud. I think its silly that any phone these days is less than 64 or 128GB.. but with that said I've never had an issue with space on any of my 32GB phones.
  • For my wife's job she records a lot of audio and video which take up a lot of space. She prefers to keep all of this on her phone so yes an SD card slot is very helpful even with the new larger sizes because that stuff is hard to backup and when she sees a client she needs it RIGHT NOW even if she does not have a signal. So SD cards are nice for some people even with the larger size phones out today.
  • Videos and pictures. I don't need the ultra fast or whatever speed of built in storage, but I also don't want to wait -forever- to load a video from the cloud.
  • Here we go again with the "wtf do you need so much space for yada yada".. I'll make it simple for all of you. If you use your phone normally, and by that I mean install an app here and there, utilize streaming apps for your media (i.e. Spotify, Pandora, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Plex, etc.) then you don't need hardly any storage. A 32gb phone will suit *YOU* just fine. But it is pretty naive of you to believe that everyone uses their device the same way *YOU* do. I personally wish that 128GB is the standard with 256GB as an option - if not higher. There are times when I'm overseas, visiting customers, and not only would I like plenty of music, synced movies, etc for my personal use during the two week trip, but I also need to carry several gig of photos to show customers other products (business based use) all on one device, without having to dig out a tablet or laptop. These massive sized screens nowadays are more than enough to show photos and view videos while flying on a plane. Then factor into the whole "my service doesn't have coverage everywhere" argument and it even plays into the local storage issue more. So while you absurdly gripe about someone else's complaint about not having enough storage a device, take a step back and sip on a glass of wine and think to yourself there are others that utilize their device completely different than yourself.
  • Amen brother. Some people just can't let go. 20GB is more than enough.. if you need more you are a hoarder
  • Useless? Since Android 6.0, the SD card can be used as main storage. I use it that way on my HTC one M8 and it works awesome. I no longer have to manually move apps to the SD card. Totally transparent.
  • Why are you moving apps to sd? Apps run best onboard. sd should be for mp3s and pics
  • Who uses mp3s anymore?
  • I agree as well. Streaming FTW
  • Agreed. The pixel uses even faster than standard flash memory. SD cards are slow and muddy the user experience. But not having a 64 GB option is pretty low.
  • You are right on both counts..
  • I want for the SD card to remain and be made mandatory on all Androids, period. I should know, I use TWO Sandisk Ultra (32 and 64GB for my XZ2 and Note 3.) But two things: 1/ TECHNICAL LIMITATIONS. Remember Adoptable Storage? You need a super good, super reliable card for your phone to not slow to a crawl or hang, and MicroSD cards have a very checkered history of reliability, just look at when the red-and-grey Sandisk Ultra cards going to pot. Also, consider that microSD cards apparently keep dying at an arbitrary number of read-and-write actions (Every time you save a photo to the SD, 'write.' Everytime you view it in your Gallery, 'read.') And often super good, super reliable cards are TOO EXPENSIVE in certain countries, so folks resort to fake cards and slow cards (class 4 and 6) and thus performance always goes to pot all the time. 2/ Why would Google want to? They're making boatloads of money through the Cloud, having more folks offload their stuff to the cloud because their phones have arbitrary storage limits, the more they'd be compelled to buy cloud storage, and the more money Google makes, not that they're already giving your photos to shady app developers so they can spam you with ads at every website to begin with.
  • Please show me with proof in their TOS or a reliable report that Google is sharing any user's pictures outside of Google. I'll wait...
  • Show me proof they aren't. I'll wait longer.
  • Agreed. Even if a phone had a 4K display with week long battery life, DSLR camera quality, Nexus smooth OS with all of Samsung's features, all the latest internals, waterproofing, and the prettiest hardware ever... I still wouldn't buy it if it didn't have expandable storage. I know I'm in the minority, but even 128GB isn't enough storage for me. Also, I absolutely DESPISE cloud storage. I don't want access to my files to be governed by my cell signal or limited by my data plan.
  • Sucks for you.
  • There is plenty of reason. Do you know the burst and sustainable throughput of the external SD interface? Have you ever tried juggling split storage? Thought not....
  • "There really is no excuse for phones not to have an SD card slot anymore" I can think of a couple just off the top of my head: - Not having an SD card slot leaves room for other things, like a bigger battery, better camera, better speakers, etc
    - External storage is never as fast, reliable, or as easy to manage as internal storage
  • Iphones are basically nagware. they are set up to automatically back up to icloud and you initially only get a small starting allowance. It's in iphone itself to ask if you want to pay for more storage space. Someone i know has an iphone 5 and they tell me it nags you quite often about this. eta: Aren't most cellphones doing away with external memory slots? I thought LG was the only one that still offered phones with microsd slots. eta: do all the people here who think external memory slots are useless work for the cellphone companies? Restricting onboard memory only seems to make people want to pay for either cloud backup or streaming services, which in some cases will take a bite out of your data allowance from your monthly plan
  • I'm just here for the complaining comments.
  • Me too. It's just too funny.
  • I'm here so that I won't get fined
  • For what?? Not showing up to AC anonymous? Lol
  • I love it
  • See at the prices they are charging 32gb shouldn't be a option simple as!
  • €1009.00 in Europe for 128GB pixel xl, GTFO Google.
  • This made me lol
  • looking at my current phone, i use about 5gb for apps.... that means i will have 18gb available for photos and videos, both of which sync to the Google cloud at original quality with unlimited storage.... ...i just don't see the issue.... unless you're the type who's shooting video constantly all day long, there's no reason to spend the extra money on the higher storage... just my thought. ....i also don't do any heavy gaming on my phone, but i would say the majority of the population doesn't either.
  • I believe too that there is an option to store most of the photos and videos to the cloud entirely, keeping all that storage open on your phone.
  • Guess you don't plan to use daydream. Those vr games take up a LOT of space.
  • It wasn't that long ago when 16gb wasn't enough space now 32gb isn't either?
  • I remember when people said you'd never need more than a 500MB hard drive. We live in a world where storage is cheap and developers are lazy. Most don't know the meaning of writing efficient code. And I can say that since I've been doing it for years.
  • Profit margins. Why spend extra for 64gb base models when all of your collected data says the general consumer uses less than 32gb of internal storage on their phone? The shelf life of the average cell phone is barely two years. Most people really dont need more than 32gb of storage for the lifespan of their phone in todays world.
  • Is the battery removable? Obviously not, so Google is trying to sucker iDiots. Have fun.
  • You don't need removable now it's gotten absolute it's better if it's not removable
  • That way when there's a battery recall you have to send in the whole phone, perfect!
  • And get a brand new unit.
  • Love how people speak for me. Awesome!!
  • Nexus hasn't had removable batteries for years now.. Pixel shouldn't be expected to reverse that.
  • soon 64 and 128gb won't be enough space as apps and photos becomes bigger by the second
  • I've got 42 gb free on my 64 gb phone. But I'm still glad I've got the option of a sim card. Just in case.
  • Umm... Every phone has an option of a SIM card...
  • This phone strikes me as a paid beta test. I expect the next version to be much better and I might pick this on up when it's $450 in 6 months.
  • This is Googles first edition of a model, so I am expecting some bugs. Undoubtedly the next model will be more polished, and the next after that. So unlike the Nexus which changed drastically in design over the years, this is a much more stable option for people. In that aspect it is very Appley.
  • Its the first edition of a model, but by name only. They still outsourced another company (HTC) to make the device, and the software is still all google. You could br right, but i'd venture to say that This phone will be a little more polished than a standard "1st gen" release thanks to the nexus line that came before it.
  • One thing I don't agree with is the lack of a 64 GB option. For some people, and myself that is the sweet spot for storage. In this situation and apple has done the same, it makes consumer go this or that, instead of having a solid third option. 16Gb isn't a valid option by any means. I preordered the 32gb because I haven't used half of the 64GB on my 6p.
  • I agree. My 64gb 6p hovers around 25-28gb left. So 128 is ridiculous and 32gb is useless.
  • My 64GB Note5 has 28.8GB available and that's with all the photos and video I take stored in Google Photos, not the device. That also includes everything I need offline for my trip to China next week. Point is I can live with 64GB and no SD card, I couldn't with 32GB.
  • To the people who want a SD slot.... Guess what! There's other phones that have one! Get over it! When has Google put a SD slot on a phone? Smh
  • Nexus One, HTC made it, 2010. That HAD an SD card. The problem is, the only true alternatives to Pixel(XL) that allow for microSD card all have arguably heavy-handed software (GS7/Edge, Note 7, G5, V20) or absolutely middling features and performance in critical metrics like, Camera performance (HTC 10, EVERY 2016 Xperia X-class) that folks don't want. They want the software of the Pixel but a MicroSD card, and the Pixel doesn't accomodate. Now, one could say 'just flash Cyanogenmod or PA,' but that's like saying to someone 'If you want your Toyota Camry to be as luxurious as a Mercedes, remove your seats and get Mercedes seats and a Mercedes interior.' That's insane.
  • I agree, I don't know *any* phone with high-range specs, with sd card support *AND* vanilla android
  • Moto Z?
  • Well I prefer unlimited cloud space for my images/videos and 32gb rather than 64gb all alone
  • True. Though not everyone has unlimited data on their phones, or unlimited WiFi in their homes. I also realize that those people will probably not be able to afford this phone in the first place.
  • I do have 4g, 15gb of data and unlimited data but I still prefer my private content on my phone. Let's say,
    Google photo is just too complicated. I can't sort my photos and videos by folder, and downloading a video takes too much time.
  • You always had unlimited storage. The only difference is 4k vs HD video. (12mp is the res limit of Google photos current unlimited storage.)
  • That's in-line with other 32GB Android devices.
  • What's happened to 64 GB? It seems like a good storage capacity which has disappeared. My Nexus 5X is 32GB, and that's fine for me. I'm sticking with it anyway.
  • 23GB huh? I just checked and I used 22 out of 53GB on my 6P. And that was only because I felt the need to download more stuff so that extra space wouldn't go to waste. Yeah, I can definitely live with 32GB. Lol.
  • Lets see design iphone, only 32gb and 128gb option, not water resistant, no dual speaker, no sd card support, no always on display. Same price as the note 7 and iphone 7 plus, no thanks. Not to say that the price is good for the note 7 or iphone 7 plus but both offers pretty good features. Pure andriod is very boring in my humble opinion, as my nexus 6p collects dust on my bedside stand.
  • Some iPhone options only come in 32 and 128 GB. What's with people's infatuation with water resistant phones? Are people dropping their phones in puddles or toilets at an alarming rate. Water resistance isn't a big feature in my opinion. 95% of phones for the past 20 years haven't been water resistant. What makes this feature so important now?
  • IDK, folks started to come to their senses and finally started asking for their phones to not become useless paperweights when their Pumpkin Spice Lattes spill to their glass and metal Obelisks. DON'T HATE ON PROGRESS, especially for progress leading to a feature that is absolutely HELPFUL AND USEFUL. i have an Xperia Z2 that has water resistance available, and that was absolutely put to good use when a careless waitress 'accidentally' spilled water onto my Xperia. If I had an iPhone 5, that phone would literally be nothing more than a PAPERWEIGHT!!!
  • I'm not hating, I just don't see water resistance being a highlight feature. Electronics aren't meant to be placed with water. If you take care of your phone, which everyone should, this isn't that useful of a feature. Accidents happen ya ya but how often does that situation occur. It doesn't enough for me to say, no this phone is useless or I shouldn't buy it. Also, say if no manufacturer offered water resistance, would you really care for a water resistant phone? It's just a gimmick and it is something people can live with it.
  • For one thing, GoPros became huge because among other things, they kept running even UNDERWATER. That was a marquee feature of GoPros and all the related action cameras, and having seen that the phone makers want to emulate the water resistance of the GoPros and how it wouldn't brick out when exposed to a few ml's of water. And NO, having a phone that will keep working even when someone spills water or coffee or whatever and not end up with a literal paperweight is not a 'gimmick' like 3D on TV's and phones, it is truly, objectively useful.
  • That's what the next model will have, instant upgrade for the first gen buyers. $$$, sit back and watch Google's stock go way up over the next six.
  • GoPros need a waterproof case to be " waterproof" unless the recent one finally "fixed" that
  • It did. They are waterproof now.
  • Water resistance is on the Pixel, if only for rain. I'll take that.
  • Not true some iPhones come in 128gb and 256gb. Water resistant is actually a useful feature.
  • Both of which are overkill. Tho, with as expensive as iCloud storage is, I guess it's needed there.
  • Yes, it depends on the person or situation. For me 32 without an sdhc is laughable, I have 128 with 30 open.
    Some of us also travel to where data service is spotty or extremely slow so we cannot rely on the cloud. I have 57gb free on dropbox but have to be somewhere stable to be able to use it well. If i was always around fast internet I may think it overkill also.
  • Puddles and toilets and me laugh!
  • My husband was riding his bike home from work with his S6 in a bag. It downpoured and some water got o it but not much. Now we have a bricked phone. Tried sending back to Samsung but it wasn't covered.
  • Who told you no always on display? It's AMOLED...so it can use glance.
  • I went with the 32. I am coming from a 16 that I haven't had any problems with (other than the occasional notice from google photos), so I think I'll be fine.
  • Still got 19GB left from 32GB N6,
    not really an issue for me,
    but surprised by no 64GB Pixel, and I can't believe it costs a manufacturer that much to jack the storage up from 32 to 128..
  • I still have 17.5GB left on my 32GB N6
  • This makes the HTC 10 even more appealing now
  • Some of us have massive amounts of FLAC files and movies among other things.
  • Good thing there's a 128gb version for you hoarders
  • Well, ya know, it's our phone. We can do with it as we please. Maybe you moving to a country where choice and personal customization of "your" stuff isn't allowed is in order?
  • I run training classes for a major company, upstairs in a huge warehouse, what your dumbass considers hoarding is me being smart and loading local training modules to cast to a TV from my phone since computers are rare and most business folks around me stake them out for hours on end. 128gb is my choice and my business needs, so deal with the fact the needs of others don't match yours.
  • Glad I got the 128gb.
  • If you need extra storage grab a USB C thumb drive. It's way cheaper than spending over $100 more on the 128GB model.
    https://www.amazon.com/Kingston-Digital-32GB-Traveler-DTDUO3C/dp/B010HWC...
  • Perfect solution for people that only need the extra storage for working or limited situations.
  • Yup, was super bummed there wasn't a 64gb, so I snagged the 128
  • Ultimately, 128 gb is probably worth the extra cash, although it may be a little painful at first.
  • I disable probably half of the Google bloat which saves quite a bit of space. Make sure you disable any apps you don't use. I can't believe they copied Apple down to even this type of detail. No 64GB option? I mean come on... With the seamless updates 64GB should have been the minimum at the price they are asking. At least they come with an OTG cable. 32GB is the new 16GB and the reason they don't offer the 64GB option is to make an extra $100 on something that probably cost them an additional $10 if even that.
  • Disabling the bloat doesn't delete it, so you don't get that space back.
  • 23GB is not as bad as I was expecting. I was expectibg like 18GB because of the extra system partition for seemless OS updates. 23GB is about the same as 32GB 6P was. However this does not excuse the facts its over priced, ugly, and lacking a couple key of features for this price point.
  • get moto z play , sd card, dual sim and DAYS of batterylife for four hundred bucks. No need to spend a thousand for iPhone or Pixel, it's working fine.
  • They should have started them at 64GB instead of 32 with a huge gap between that and 128GB. It doesn't make sense not to have a 64GB option. Smh..
  • Easy way to solve the UI problem. Samsung and other companies put their version of featured Android in the duplicate partitions, and the theme is updated separately and done through a system level app that isn't large. Only the theme is, which isn't duplicate.
  • 64gb should be the minimum on all flagships. Ive been out of room with 32gb on my Nexus 5 fir well over a year.
  • You have to remember Verizon is going to put a lot of their bloatware on the phone as well so that'll use more storage.
  • .. double post
  • Sheesh.. So many people have that super idiotic ideal of "well it's good enough for me, it should be good enough for everyone else" Well it's not.. Not everyone has the same wants & needs, and that's a good thing.. I have 1 Gbps internet and I love it., do you need it, maybe not, but so freaking what... I currently have an 18ft tent I go camping in, do you need it, probably no, but I sure as hell love having a tent with queen size inflatable bed and two twins and fans galore, with space to spare.... WTF should I care about what's "good enough for you"?.. I have a 256 GB SD in my phone, with every pic I've ever taken since the first camera phone, Just because you don't mind waiting for s#!t to download all the time, doesn't mean that I have to...
  • I have same setup - blow up up on cots to boot - 20' tent... booze table and snack table... :) and yeah, whilst camping (or hunting, fishing, etc.... ) we take PIX and movies - and have NO COVERAGE in a lot of spots we go! First day of deer season yesterday ... some texts came in... but few and was hard to get them OUT of where I was... took LOTS of pics! Just cloud doesn't work for me! Offline topo maps... yah, some music... loads of pics and vids... etc... I need more BATTERY life more than anything... we need to move off li-on bats and on to next new breakthrough! :)
  • 8.9 GB used of 111 GB in my N6P. I think I may order a 32 GB Pixel instead.
  • I have a lot of apps. Some I don't use often but I like having them when I need them. I'd like to have more but out of room. Every store has its own shopping app that you need for coupons and discounts.
  • Okay can we all just admit that nobody besides Tech nerds are going to be buying the Pixel fairy dust phones. I work with the public and I'm always asking about and talking about phones. Not one person young or old even know what a Pixel phone is. Sorry but I see the Pixel as another failed Google project.
  • Yes I'm quite sure you do work with the public...at Walmart... ya hilljack!
  • With phones like this, as in no card slot, you're better off going with 128GB. Can't afford it? Grind for it!!!!
  • This is my only complaint. 32gb is worthless and 128gb is massive overkill. I think I have over 30gb left on my 64gb 6p.
  • wow... ya that's a bit small but expected. 64GB would be perfect but they got rid of it so they could make a bit more on the 128 model. I went 32 this year to see if i could in fact get away with it. if i can't after 2 weeks its going back for the 128 model
  • I'm curious if the bloatware that Verizon is sure to install will be removable taking into consideration the locked bootloader
  • Meanwhile, on the 7 Plus 27.45 GB are user accessible (providing you uninstall the removable Garage Band and iMovie).
    Of course, that doesn't take into account future OS updates (Apple loves inflating the OS size), but still...