Apple’s New iPhone Ad: ‘Don’t Let Me Go’

I saw this new iPhone 15 commercial a few times over the weekend, watching basketball. (Congrats to the South Carolina women and UConn men, both of whom won championships convincingly.) The gist of the commercial is that you shouldn’t worry about deleting photos to free up storage, because modern iPhones have plenty of space. The commercial-ending tagline as our protagonist stops deleting photos and resumes shooting new ones of his adorable dog: “Lots of storage for lots of photos / Relax it’s iPhone 15”.

It’s true that the iPhones 15, 14, and 13 all start with 128 GB of storage, which I think is the perfect baseline storage capacity. Only the so-old-it-still-has-a-home-button 3rd-gen iPhone SE starts at 64 GB. Especially when you’re talking about photos — which is what this commercial is about — 128 GB is a lot of on-device storage.

But this commercial made me want to yell at my TV each time it came on: “The problem is iCloud storage, not on-device storage!” The free tier of iCloud remains just 5 GB, and the $1/month paid tier offers just 50 GB, which may not be enough to back up even a 64 GB iPhone SE. I’m an outlier — 660 GB in iCloud Photos alone — but my wife, a casual/occasional photographer, has 55 GB in iCloud Photos. Even people who don’t shoot many photos in a year can wind up with large photo libraries because they’ve been using iPhones for 10–15 years.

I’d much rather have constrained storage on-device, with ample storage online, than the other way around. iOS does a great job in this situation with the (on by default) “Optimize iPhone Storage” option in Settings → Photos. But the other way around is surely the situation for many, if not most, iPhone users: more space on device than storage in iCloud. And no amount of cleverness in iOS can protect a user with un-backed-up photos and videos if they lose or break their iPhone.

Am I missing something? It feels like this new commercial is just whistling past the single biggest shortcoming in the Apple ecosystem.

Tuesday, 9 April 2024