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16GB iPhone storage issues? For $90, some Chinese repair stores can upgrade memory to 128GB

Published Nov 4th, 2015 11:45AM EST
16GB iPhone 6s Memory Upgrade
Image: Austin Mann

It’s abundantly clear why Apple still makes 16GB iPhones: For the money. At the same time, not all iPhone buyers are willing to pay extra cash for the 64GB or 128GB models, so they end up buying a cheaper 16GB model. There are ways to fix memory needs, including updating to the latest available iOS 9 version, keeping unessential data off the phone, and buying third-party storage solutions that connect wirelessly to the device.

However, some intrepid iPhone repair shops in China have found a way to replace the storage on iPhone and iPad, something that hasn’t been done before.

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While it’s easy to upgrade storage space on a computer by swapping the old hard drive with a larger capacity one, regular iOS users can’t do the same thing on iPhone and iPad – and the same goes for any other mobile device.

But in China, you can upgrade your iPhone’s memory to 64GB or 128GB for around $70 to $90, Chinese site reports. Apparently, repair shops have found a way to trick the iPhone into accepting an NAND chip that shouldn’t be there, taking advantage of a loophole in Apple’s software.

The memory replacement is done in about an hour and involves tearing down the iPhone and removing the NAND chip from the logic board. Repair shops use heat to remove the default memory chip and replace it with a new one, which makes the upgrade a risky procedure for older devices like the iPhone 5s. On the iPhone 6 and iPads the procedure is a lot simpler, the report says.

Once the iPhone is reassembled, it can be successfully activated as long as all the information needed for the activation is transferred to the new memory chip, including unique identifiers that belong to that device.

It’s not clear how widespread this procedure is, but it looks like the store in question has upgraded at least 70 mobile devices.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.