The great iPod capacity conspiracy

All through the product time lines you have lost space on portable media players to formatting.. but the iPhone OS on the iPod Touch/iPhone seems to take space loss too far. On a 8gb iPod Touch 2nd gen all that shows up as usable from the 8gb is 7.01gb. The big issue is that it uses 473mb for its os partition… and that means you only get around 6.5gb usable store media/apps/videos.

I discovered this via the $2.99 System Activity Monitor app from App Store, Also I compared the capacity of my 2nd gen iPod Nano and 2nd gen iPod Touch.

iPod Nano Capacity
Capacity of my iPod Nano 2nd Gen

iPod Touch Capacity
Capacity of my iPod Touch 2nd Gen

iPod Touch space useage

Here is the details on the disk usage inside my iPod Touch 2nd Gen


  1. Branhower from the Alfred community here. I accidentally clicked the X button after you PM’d me, there’s my e-mail.

    Anyway, I do feel that the iPhone OS does take up too much space. Depends on the phone, but I do believe Windows Mobile takes up less space and is more powerful. I always have about 100 megs of free space, even after the jailbreak puts more data in that partition.

  2. Ok..Seriously…What do you expect? You want them to put in a dedicated flash chip JUST for the OS or something, so your audio storage space can be segregated? I’m sorry, thats just NOT cost effective.

    They put in 1qty 8GB flash chip. ONE. NAND Flash (the newer kind of flash) dictates that certain amounts need to be reserved for something called “Wear Leveling”(google that) thats why you get the 7.4 gigs on your original Nano.

    As for your OS partition, hello, your iTouch DOES run a GRAPHICAL operating system. Your NANO uses a 16 or 32 megabyte firmware that has VERY limited capabilities.

    Sorry man, welcome to the complexities of running 3rd party apps with a rich Software Dev Kit environment!

  3. If 2-4gb flash drives can be commodity and cheap then they can include a dedicated flash chip for the OS and not loose money. And my nano is more capable than you may think…. Id be using it today if i didn’t have my iPod Touch. They packed lots of function in a tiny firmware.

  4. How do you figure a 2 or 4gb flash drive has an OS? It has a microcontroller!

    Have you taken your iTouch apart? Do you think theres even room on the circuit board to even put a different chip there? If they do it the way every other small device I’ve found does it, they pack chips on so tightly there’s no green PCB left!

    Commodity means that soon 16giggers will be cheap enough so you only have 1/32nd of your drive used for a rich OS vs 1/16th.

    capthca: early-morning bearskin < is this innuendo? 🙂

  5. OOh; also, ‘lots of function’ is what.. small games, video, audio, some 3d cover flipping… what else does it do? Does it actually have a third party API that can do anything you want to code? That stuff takes up a lot of space!

  6. And i was referring to the low cost of the nand flash chips the cheap flash drives use.. add a low cost flash chip for os and tell it to map the os partition to it.

    Accessories could run software on the old style iPods… more evident on the fm transmitters, voice recorders and other addons.

  7. Ah yes the chips are cheap. Re-engineering a circuitboard takes a long amount of time and is a costly process. Thats the reality of it.

    Their software was probably utilizing about 1MB or so of simple graphics and low-level API.

    Could it run a Webkit-based browser? Did it do full 3D graphics? Allow for programs to have large amounts of user interaction, data processing and all sorts of other generic APIs? Have a full working UNIX backend? Allow multitasking? (Jailbroken ipods/phones only; this is purely a soft limitation due, IMHO, to the lack of SDRAM in the things)

    Most of the functionality in that Nano was due to a microcontroller inside that decoded video and audio in hardware.

  8. Well it seems that it uses a certain % of the total flash ram and based on that… it is confirmed that a 8gb ipod touch uses 500mb partition for os, a 32gb uses 700mb partition for os. It’s not the fact the os has larger footprint its the fact that the firmware takes a % of the total flash instead of exact size.

  9. *shrug* a 32gb iTouch with 700 meg space may just be a bit extra for theoretical upgrades that require even more functionality than currently exposed.. If it were to be a linear progression your 32gb ver would take 2gb. Its instead 200 or 300 megs larger.

    In the scope of things, less than 1 gig out of 32, is almost throwaway space. I’ve got an 8gb memory card in my Sansa running RockBox. I’ve yet to fill the card up.

    Note, I do have over 200gb of music, I just rotate it every once in a while. When we start to see 1 tera mp3 players…ooh that would rock 🙂

  10. I think the real ‘conspiracy’ would be why Apple limited themselves to ONLY internal space. If anything a MicroSDHC slot would be negligibly larger than a memory chip, and offer infinite capacity; keep adding more cards.

  11. They can’t use all that space… that would rule out a 8gb model with 500mb and a 16gb model with 600mb.

    The way that the os sizes the partitions is really the issue… it would be less bad if all models used a fixed 500mb.

    A card slot would fix it but there is not much room in the design for a card slot. The classic could have room for one but thats pointless since its hard drive based… adding card slot to the ipod touch/iphone would take a major redesign. More of one than adding dedicated nand flash for the os.

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