Buy a tablet boasting 64GB of storage, and you might expect to get just that. But our tests have found you could only be getting just one third of this storage for your money.
Every tablet runs off an operating system (OS) that requires an amount of storage space itself. Add on the built-in apps that come ready-installed on the tablet (many of which can’t be removed), and you could lose even more storage space.
Read our expert Which? tablet buyers guide.
True tablet storage space
While this is true of any tablet, our tests found that there are vast differences in the amount of space you’re left with due to the demands of different tablet operating systems.
For instance, a 16GB fourth generation Apple iPad leaves you with 13GB of usable storage space once the OS and built-in apps are taken into account. A 16GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD leaves you with 11GB to use for storing your own files and apps.
This means that to get a decent amount of storage space on your Kindle Fire HD, you’ll have to pay more for a 32GB model.
In the infographic below, we show how much storage space is actually left on a tablet once the operating system and built-in apps have been taken into account:
Memory-hungry Microsoft Surface tablets
The most space-hungry operating system by far is Microsoft’s Windows 8. The lighter, tablet-only version, Windows RT, takes up just under 10GB of storage space for the OS together and its built-in apps, and you lose further storage space needed by Windows RT’s recovery tools (around 5GB is reserved for this).
However, this loss is dwarfed by the shocking amount of space taken up by the full version of Windows 8 that runs on the Surface Pro tablet.
Buy the 64GB version of the Surface Pro, and you’ll only get 21GB of remaining storage space once the OS, built-in apps and space for recovery tools are taken into account. That’s just a third of the total storage space left for storing your own content.
Some compensation comes from being able to add a microSD memory card to the Surface tablets to boost their storage space. You can attach an external hard drive to the USB ports, or use Microsoft’s SkyDrive online cloud storage to store files.