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N9 - 16 GB and 64 GB versions - How much storage space is really available?

The Nokia N9 comes in two versions - 16 GB and 64 GB - which is the size of its internal storage memory, i.e. space available for user installable applications and data (e.g. documents, music files, videos, etc).

As the N9 does not have a memory card slot and therefore it is not possible to further expand its storage space should you at some point need more, it is very important to choose the right version.

Obviously, the 64 GB version is better, period. But it is also more expensive. Therefore, we suggest that you carefully calculate how much space you usually need on your smartphone for storing your data, taking into consideration some important facts described below.

What majority of people planning to buy the N9 don't really know is that while the 16 GB and 64 GB versions indeed contain 16 and 64 GB of storage memory respectively, it is not a contiguous block and cannot be used directly to store THIS MUCH of any kind of data.

The advertised 16 or 64 GB is the total size and as such it is true, but (what is not clearly mentioned) it is PARTITIONED (divided) into several separate filesystems (or partitions), serving different purposes and allowing the user to put there different kind of data:

  • rootfs (/dev/root/): contains the operating system and it's also where all 3rd party applications get installed. Its size is 4 GB
  • home (/home/): used by the operating system to store various kinds of config files, databases (e.g. contacts or messages), etc. Even though many of these files contain user data, users don't have direct access to this file system; it is used by the operating system. Its size is 2 GB.
  • MyDocs (/home/user/MyDocs/): that's the partition where you can freely place your files like pictures, music, videos, documents, etc. It's the ONLY filesystem made available to the user and directly accessible for him, where any kind of files can be stored without any restrictions. That's the disk you see when you connect your N9 to your PC via USB. Its size on the N9 16 GB is about 9 GB and on the 64 GB version it is around 57 GB.
  • some other filesystems (e.g. tmp) which are just several hundred MB in total, i.e. not really important.

As you can see from the above, the N9 16 GB actually offers you a 4 GB partition for installing software (of which ~ 1 GB is already used by the operating system, so around 3 GB remains free for installable apps) and a 9 GB partition for storing data (pictures, videos, music, etc). In case of the 64 GB version it is 4 GB and 57 GB, respectively.

Long story short, on both the 16 GB and 64 GB version you can install up to around 3 GB of 3rd party apps, which means that the 64 GB version does NOT offer any advantages in this regard. It is space for user data (pictures, music, videos, ...) that's considerably larger on the 64 MB version: 57 GB vs. 9 GB, i.e. 48 GB more. And that's the most important thing to take into consideration when choosing the right version of the device. For the additional money you pay for the 64 GB version you get 48 GB more for your data. If you decide to pay less and get the 16 GB version, be aware that for your MP3's and video clips you will get not more than 9 GB. On the other hand, paying considerably more for the 64 GB variant, you will NOT be able to install on it more apps than on the 16 GB model, i.e. up to around 3 GB in both cases.

Hopefully it's clear now :-)

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