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I am Ricardo Lopez, Test Manager for Surface RT. After the OS, OfficeRT and a bunch of apps, you will still have more that 20GB. As you say, you can always add an SD card and while you cannot add apps there, you can get music, movies and photos there.

That Reddit comment is referring to the 32GB Microsoft Surface RT. Assuming everything, that means that Windows RT, OfficeRT, and a few small apps, the "light" version of Windows 8 requires around 12GB.

Does anyone have any data as to how iOS compares? How much space does iOS require?

I know that it does not cut into the storage allocated for the user (i.e. a 16GB iPhone will offer almost that much to the user). Data on iOS 6 is preferred.

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The exact answer will vary by device, because there are separate iOS builds for each one. The easiest way to figure this out is to examine an iOS 6 install image (a .ipsw file).

The iPad 3 (Wi-Fi only) is the iOS device that is most similar to a Microsoft Surface, although the two are still very different. The iOS 6.0 (build 10A403) install image weighs in at around 1.15 GB.

The IPSW file itself is actually a zip file that contains several files, but most of them are fairly small. The root filesystem disk image, which contains the entire installed OS, weighs in at around 1.12 GB in this case.

Someone with a jailbroken device could decrypt the image and provide a more exact answer, that's a pretty good estimate of the amount of space it will consume on the device when installed.

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The iOS 6 .ipsw file, used to restore it, is around 1GB, depending of the device. When installing through the iPhone itself, though, it asks for at least 2 GB of space.

An example of the required space for two different devices.

It's fair to presume, then, that the required space is between 1 and 2 GB.

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Ahh, beat me by half a minute. :) The extra space could also be required during installation for temporary storage of intermediate/backup files. –  jmk Oct 18 '12 at 8:52
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A quick survey of friends a while back has shown that you can expect the following amounts of usable space on an iPhone 5 with iOS 6:

  • 13.70 GB of space on the 16 GB model
  • 28.00 GB of space on the 32 GB model
  • 57.20 GB of space on the 64 GB model

The builds for iPad and iPod touch are different than each iPhone build, but the space taken by iOS when installed and overhead is in the 2.5 GB range across devices and storage configurations.

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