You can get just about anything at the Shenzhen market in China, and that apparently includes an on-the-spot internal storage upgrade for your iPhone (in addition to a long list of counterfeit Apple products). It’s a service that, save for perhaps the most hardcore DIYers, is unheard of stateside.
Apple charges a $100 premium each time you bump up to a higher capacity iPhone, but at the Shenzhen market this third-party upgrade costs only around $60 to go from a 16GB model to 128GB. The 128GB iPhone model would normally be a $200 premium over the 16GB model retail price, and that’s not accounting for the fact you’d also have to purchase a new device. You can also get an upgrade to 32GB for $20 or 64GB for $35.
The process takes around 30 minutes and sees a Shenzhen market employee taking apart the iPhone and replacing the device’s internal flash storage with a new 128GB chip from Toshiba. And all of the device’s storage is transferred to the new chip, so you don’t lose any data in the process and can continue using the device with everything intact from before the upgrade.
The upgrade apparently works for iPhone 6, iPad Air and older devices with around 50 upgrades per day done at the Shenzhen market alone, according to the full video below courtesy of local company BeSound.
And not surprisingly, getting this type of upgrade from a third-party will completely void your warranty with Apple. But — Shenzhen aside— we aren’t holding our breath for seeing a similar service become popular stateside, as Apple will likely not be too happy about an unauthorized third-party cracking open iPhones, voiding warranties, and undercutting its lucrative margins on flash storage in the various iPhone models.
For the rest of us there are great external storage add-ons for iPhone that can be a solid solution for those running out of space. Lightning to USB thumb drives— like the one Hyper recently showed off at CES— is one way of getting some extra storage while on the go. And there are versions that accept microSD cards if that’s more your style.
Check out the full video of the upgrade being performed below: