My old iPhone 12 Pro) has ~140GB of storage (out of 256), and it is completely backed up in iCloud. The problem is that the new iPhone 13 has less storage (128GB), so it obviously can't contain all of the data from the old one (mostly pictures).

I want the new phone to have a working backup for the new pictures, but I do not want the old photos to be downloaded. After I started the new phone it started syncing all of the old data, including the pictures, and I had to stop the process because it reached full capacity. Now the process is paused and the backup is not working.

Is there a way to make it work?
I can't find anything about this scenario, which is weird, I mean, there's no way to downgrade the disk space with newer phones.

  • Do you still have your old phone?
    – nohillside
    May 19, 2023 at 13:24
  • @nohillside Yes, I do May 19, 2023 at 13:38
  • In case setting "Optimize Storage" on the new phone only will not work (because the restore will overwrite settings), you can set it on the old phone, do another backup and restore that one.
    – nohillside
    May 19, 2023 at 13:51
  • @nohillside Not sure what you mean with the old phone, I do not want to restore anything, the old phone still has everything on it. May 19, 2023 at 14:02
  • Ah, had to reread your second paragraph, this isn't about restoring a new phone from an old as I initially thought. You can't have iCloud Photo Library enabled without it downloading at least low-quality versions/thumbnails of all pictures in it. But it should manage space in a smart way when "Optimize Storage" is enabled.
    – nohillside
    May 19, 2023 at 14:05

1 Answer 1


If you want to use iCloud Photo Library you must either:

  • Enable "Optimize Storage" and accept that your originals will not be on the phone
  • Buy a phone with enough storage for your entire photo library

If you would like to keep "Download Originals" enabled, then you must export and delete your older photos to another system. This is easiest to do on a Mac (highest fidelity - originals or as-edited files), but can also be done from icloud.com or privacy.apple.com (least fidelity - just the original files)

Personally, I keep Optimize Storage enabled on my phone and Download Originals enabled on my Mac where I then back up to Time Machine, but I understand that not everyone has both devices to work with.

  • I do have the "Optimize iPhone Storage" setting on, but it still syncs the photos May 19, 2023 at 13:54
  • @NitzanTomer Point of clarification, are your photos currently stored in an iCloud Backup or in iCloud Photo Library (are they visible on iCloud.com?)
    – Ezekiel
    May 19, 2023 at 14:04
  • The photos are indeed visible in icloud.com. I have "Sync this iPhone" enabled in the iCloud drive, and also in iCloud Photos. And "Back Up This iPhone" is also on in iCloud Backup May 19, 2023 at 14:36

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