Kirk McElhearn writes about his experiment testing the real available space of base model iOS devices:
did an experiment. I have an original iPad mini, and I hadn’t yet gotten around to updating it to iOS 8 (in part because the over-the-air updater told me it needed 4.9 GB in free space, and it’s only a 16 GB device, and I didn’t have enough free space). I loaded it with only iOS 8 and Apple’s apps. I installed all of Apple’s apps: the iWork apps, iMovie, Garage Band, Find My iPhone, Remote, etc.
Apple should simply not sell 16 GB devices any more. If, after installing just the basics, there’s only half the advertised space available (I know, I already lost a couple of GB because of marketing), then users can’t put a lot of content on them. Many won’t care, but once you start downloading a few games, you get into a situation where there’s not enough room to apply updates, because they need so much free space. (And, as a commenter pointed out below, Apple still sells the iPhone 5c with only 8 GB; imagine the results if I tried this on one of those devices.) Once again, that Apple still, in 2014, sells 8 and 16GB devices is inexcusable and downright punitive.