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Running out of space on your smartphone? How to increase your mobile storage

Smartphones store so much data that it can be difficult finding somewhere to save it all! Gone are the days of storing your contacts and some low-resolution photos - now we have apps, games and large files to download, and storage space is running out.

If you find yourself running out of available storage on your phone, here are a few ways of freeing up some valuable megabytes. Click on the link below that matches your smartphone. First, though, we definitely recommend starting with our General tips section before jumping to your smartphone's operating system.

General storage Tips

Expand your memory

Most Android handsets have a memory card slot to expand your storage with a MicroSD card. Likewise, many Windows handsets also take a memory card. Unfortunately, if you're an iPhone user this is one area where you'll miss out – your iPhone memory can't be expanded with any type of memory card.

If your phone does have a MicroSD slot, you could add as much as a whopping 256 gigabytes of extra space, depending on the specifications of your smartphone.

htc u play sim sd insert

It's important to note that, for the most part, older Android smartphones can only use the microSD card for photos, videos and other media files. Some apps can be installed to a microSD card, but most will still install to your phone's memory. This means that if you need more space for apps, then a memory card may not provide a solution – but it could indirectly fix the problem by giving you somewhere else to store all your media files. Newer versions of Android (Marshmallow and Nougat), have a software feature called Adoptable Storage which fixes the problem, but whether your phone has it depends on the manufacturer - for example, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge don't support the Adoptable Storage feature by default.

Things are a bit simpler with Windows Phones, which treat the microSD card as an extension of the internal memory - letting you install apps and games to your memory card without a hitch.

iPhone users are unlikely to get microSD support for their smartphones in the future – but you could consider items like the Leef iBridge external memory device. As Apple don't officially support expandable memory, gadgets like this do have their limitations and it's not as seamless as using a memory card would be – but depending on what you need, it may provide a way to move photos and videos away from your iPhone's storage, freeing up space for more apps and games.

For some handset-specific advice on upgrading your phone's storage capacity, nip into your nearest Carphone Warehouse store for a chat – or check online here to browse Carphone Warehouse's range of MicroSD cards.

Delete your unused apps

smartphone storage uninstallWith literally hundreds of thousands of apps available across different handsets, you may quickly end up filling your phone with a huge selection of games, apps and widgets you never use! Browsing through your phone every so often and removing the apps you haven't used for a while is a great way of freeing additional space on your smartphone.

If you’ve purchased some of these apps, fear not. All purchases are managed by the account linked to your handset, whether that's an Apple ID, Gmail account or Windows account. If you want to install a particular app again at a later date, as long as you're signed in with your original account, you can simply download it again without being charged.

Back up your camera pictures

If you use your smartphone to take a lot of pictures, it's a good idea to back them up to your computer every now and again. Not only will this prevent you from losing any photographs if anything happens to your phone, but it also gives you the opportunity to delete them from your phone and free up some space.

dropbox logoNowadays, most phones will have some kind of cloud service that allows you to back up your photos to online storage. From there, it's usually fairly easy to transfer them across to your hard drive – and even if you don't use whatever service your manufacturer provides, there are plenty of third-party options like Dropbox.

There's also the old-school way of connecting your phone up to your computer with a cable: most computers will automatically detect the phone as a camera and give you the option to sync your pictures. Your manufacturer may also have a dedicated software suite that you can install on your computer – however, these aren't always essential.

Delete your old messages

smartphone storage delete messagesGenerally text messages don't take up loads of space. But when you lump together all your conversations from the likes of SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and other services you may use, it can add up!

We've become a lot more sophisticated with our messaging habits these days – especially with services like iMessage and WhatsApp which let you receive pictures and videos from your contacts without charging you for an MMS message. All of those pictures, GIFs and videos take up a lot of space – in fact, you could end up using gigabytes of data if you're particularly fond of sharing photos and gifs between your friends.

Obviously, make sure any pictures you want to keep are saved somewhere – but deleting all those memes you've been sending back and forth could claim back quite a bit of space on your smartphone!

Device Specific Tips

All of the tips mentioned above apply to most smartphones – but try some of these handset-specific tips if you really want to make the most of your memory!

iPhone Storage Tips

The iPhone doesn't support additional memory cards, so you're limited to the amount of storage your phone is sold with. It's easy to check how much storage you're using on your iPhone, just follow these steps:

  1. On your iPhone, tap on the Settings icon.
  2. Scroll down the settings list and tap on General.
  3. On this next settings page, find and tap on Usage.

This will show you how much space you've used and how much free space you have remaining. It'll also give you a breakdown of your storage, so you can see at a glance what's using the most space!

You can also see the how much space each of your apps is taking up. Some apps can take up as much as a couple of gigabytes of your storage – so uninstalling any apps you don't use is a great way to free up some memory on your iPhone.

iTunes Match

iTunes logo macIf you have a lot of music in your iTunes library on your computer, you may not be able to fit it all on your iPhone! If you want to be able to access it when you’re out and about, consider signing up for iTunes Match.

This service uploads all your music from your PC to iCloud – where it can be streamed or downloaded to your iPhone over the internet.

There is a yearly charge for this service, but if you want easy access to your entire music collection from your iPhone, this could be the best way of doing it. Any tracks downloaded to the phone from iTunes Match will inevitably take up space – so be sure to stick to streaming your music to avoid this. Data charges may apply if you use this service over a data network instead of Wi-Fi.

Android Storage Tips

Samsung Galaxy S7 4_3There's a huge range of Android phones out there, ranging from budget-friendly handsets to wallet-busting flagship phones. This means Android phones can vary wildly in terms of storage capacity – so while a top-of-the-line model probably won't have any immediate storage concerns, you may run into issues pretty quickly on some budget phones.

This also means that there's a fair bit of variation in how the menus can be displayed, so finding your remaining storage space can be totally different from one phone to the next. Generally, you can find out how much storage you're using following these short steps:

  1. Find and tap on the Settings icon in your Apps list.
  2. In your Settings menu, find and tap Storage (or something similiarly named).

This will give you a general overview of what's using the most space on your smartphone, as well as showing you how much space you have remaining.

Move apps to microSD Card

format SD 4_3Some apps can be run directly from the microSD card without having to be installed on your internal memory. To move an app to the microSD card, follow these steps:

  1. Drag your finger down the screen to access your Quick Settings.
  2. Tap on the cog icon in the top-right corner to go to the Settings menu.
  3. Scroll down and tap on Applications.
  4. Select Manage Applications from the new menu.
  5. Scroll down the list of apps until you find the application you want to move. Tap on it to see more options.
  6. Press the option for Move to SD Card.

If the 'Move to SD Card' option is greyed out or replaced with 'Move to Phone', the app is either already on the microSD card or it is one of the few apps that has to be installed on the internal memory.

Clear app data

Some apps store a lot of temporary files on the internal memory, which can build up over time. Apps like Facebook, Google Maps and web browsers are particularly bad for this, due to the massive amounts of data they have to manage on a regular basis.

Clearing out these temporary files will free up some space and can be a real life-saver on some entry-level phones that don't have loads of storage:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Applications.
  3. Select Manage Applications.
  4. Find the application you want to clear out, and tap on it.
  5. Press the options for both Clear Data and Clear Cache.

The 'Clear Cache' option is not always available, so don’t worry if it’s not there. For your social media accounts, this won't delete any data from the account itself – only the temporary data that was downloaded to your phone. However, it will delete your stored login credentials, and you will probably have to sign into the app again - so make sure you know your password before doing this!

We wouldn't advise deleting the data from messaging applications as this would delete the messages from your phone. However you're generally safe to delete the data and cache from things like the internet browser or mapping apps.

Windows Phone Storage Tips

If you have a Windows Phone handset, then your phone generally does a pretty good job of managing its own storage. If you follow our general advice above with regards to deleting unwanted apps and periodic reboots of your phone, then things should keep ticking along nicely.

To check how much storage you're currently using, you just need to find Storage Sense in your list of apps, which will give you a breakdown of your storage usage – and also give you some tips as to what else you could do to make sure you're not wasting any space.


Hopefully we've helped you free up some valuable memory on your smartphone! If you follow these tips, you should be able to keep your smartphone running efficiently – and without any warnings about low storage space.

If you do have any further issues, give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to investigate any of your storage issues!

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