Customers flocked to buy the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus when it was launched in Hong Kong last September, despite criticism of the products / Getty

Small hard drive and cloud services help Apple keep iPhones cheap, executive says

The next iPhones are likely to keep their small size as Apple looks to shift people to storing their information in the cloud.

Apple has long offered its phones with relatively small amounts of storage — including the smallest, 16GB option, in addition to 64GB and 128GB options. It is likely to continue doing so, according to comments from an executive.

Asked about the small iPhone, marketing executive Phil Schiller told The Talk Show podcast host John Gruber that: "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."

The company has been gradually shifting towards a focus on the cloud, now offering Photos and Music storage among its highest-profile products. But the company only offers a small amount of storage for free, asking people to pay extra to store more photos and to use the newly-announced Apple Music.

Apple has gradually increased the size of the storage in its more expensive options. But the 16GB one — the cheapest one and therefore often the default choice — has stuck around.

Unlike most other phones, Apple doesn’t offer the ability to upgrade storage with extra memory sticks or cards. Apple has never offered expandable storage of any kind — or a replaceable battery — and is likely never to do so.

Schiller said that adding to the battery was likely to make the phone thicker, compromising Apple’s central focus on design.

"If you want a product that's thicker with a bigger battery it's also heavier, more costly, takes longer to charge,” he said. "We model every thickness, every size, every weight and try to figure out what the tradeoffs are. I think we've made great choices there."