If the latest iPhone leak is true, there's bad news for new buyers

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If the latest leak out of Apple's iPhone factories is true, then the next iPhone will start with just 16GB of storage.

9to5Mac's Mark Gurman published leaked images of the internal components of the next iPhone, the so-called iPhone 6S. One of the components is a 16GB flash storage chip.

That's bad news for all new iPhone owners if Apple ends up keeping the entry-level iPhone at just 16GB of storage.

Last year, for example, many couldn't update their iPhones to the latest iOS 8 software because their phones didn't have enough free space.

Low storage also means you may not be able to download larger apps and games because they require a lot of extra space to install. And 16GB isn't enough storage for people who have a lot of photos, text messages, and other media stored on their devices.

Most of Apple's competitors make phones with at least 32GB of storage. Many also let you add extra storage with a memory card.

On the other hand, Apple has taken a few steps to make sure iPhones with less storage can get updates. iOS 9, the next operating system for the iPhone and iPad, won't require as much free space to install as the current version does.

Apple will also let developers use a process called "app thinning" so their apps don't take up unnecessary space on the phone. That should help a bit.

Apple's argument for keeping storage on the iPhone low versus the competition is that a lot of people can store stuff online instead of directly on the phone. In June, Apple's SVP of marketing Phil Schiller told Daring Fireball's John Gruber on a podcast:

The belief is more and more as we use iCloud services for documents and our photos and videos and music, that perhaps the most price-conscious customers are able to live in an environment where they don't need gobs of local storage because these services are lightening the load.

But there's problem with that logic.

Apple only gives users 5GB of free iCloud space, no matter how many iPhones, iPads, and Macs they own. You can store photos, documents, and videos in iCloud, but that storage is also used to keep a backup of your phone.

It's easy to blow through the free storage Apple gives you, especially if you have multiple devices. Even if you're one of those "price conscious" customers Schiller refers to, you'll likely have to shell out more money for extra iCloud storage if you buy a 16GB iPhone.

Phil Schiller Apple iPadIf the latest leak holds true, Apple is making the same unfriendly choice it made last year. It essentially forces a lot of customers to shell out an extra $100 for the 64GB or 128GB version of the iPhone or pay more for online storage. I

f you want to be cynical, you can say Apple made the choice to make more money on iPhones instead of what's best for users.

In fact, one estimate from analyst Neil Cybart says that Apple could make an extra $3 billion just by coaxing customers to get the 64GB iPhone because the 16GB model isn't a good option for many people.

Ideally, Apple would make the entry-level iPhone 32GB, which is plenty of space for many, and go up from there.

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