Samsung acknowledges S4 storage complaints; says it's "reviewing" options

A couple of weeks ago, we reported that the entry-level version of Samsung's new Galaxy S4 left considerably less storage available for users than some might have expected. The 16GB model comes with over 45% of its storage consumed by the footprint of the OS and Samsung's pre-installed software, leaving just 8.82GB for user data. 

Of course, this is precisely the reason that Samsung offers versions with greater storage capacities; for those users who need more storage, 32GB and 64GB models are also available (although in some markets, only the 16GB version has so far been released). Nonetheless, users have complained to Samsung about storage issues on the cheapest S4, but some decided to take matters further. 

Some British S4 owners complained to BBC One's Watchdog, the Beeb's flagship consumer affairs TV show, requesting that its team investigate and confront Samsung over the storage issue. In its report, Watchdog pointed the finger at Samsung's "bloatware" for eating up so much space on the entry-level handset.

Although a representative from Samsung did not appear on the show, the company was quoted as saying that they "appreciate this issue being raised and will review their customer communication for future products", in reference to the disparity between the advertised storage space and the actual amount of space available to users. 

Samsung isn't alone in this, of course. Smartphones, tablets, notebooks and PCs from all brands advertise total storage capacity, but leave less space available for users to store their own data. CNET UK's Jason Jenkins, who appeared on the show, pointed out that "this is a problem that the whole industry should address", but encouraged Samsung to take the lead in tackling the issue, suggesting that the company should state on its product packaging that only 8GB of storage will be available to users. 

Watchdog reported that Samsung recommended that owners of the 16GB Galaxy S4 take advantage of its memory expansibility through its microSD slot. In a statement to the BBC, Samsung additionally said that they are "committed to listening to our customers, and responding to their needs", adding that they are "reviewing the possibility of securing more memory space" for users via a future software update. 

You can view the clip covering Watchdog's report on the Samsung Galaxy S4 in the video below: 

Source: BBC Watchdog  | YouTube

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I recently got a S3 off ebay and the very first thing I did was unlock the bootloader and install a custom rom (Carbon). pure google experience.

So when is the watchdogs going ot pen Apple to the ground for this too. Instead og picking on Microsoft and Samsung which everyone seems to hate all of a sudden?

To Samsung, just make the phoine in 32 and 64 gb models period. 16GB is being cheap.

WTF are people doing with 9Gb of space on a phone!!?? I have personally downloaded about 200+ apps from Google and my storage is at 6.8Gb..

Sure, you put on a few big/small games 3-4 Gb you still have 2.5 - 3gb left! As for music and pictures 95% of them can be stored on your sdcard

Are people really using ALL of these apps/games in the same week!? (if you said yes, your full of sh*t) why not install them when you choose to use them!?

Its a sense of security people need in this modern world when they look at there storage info and see 20 Gb of free space (Insecurity problems. Don't worry I used to be the same until I grow up!)

This man was MOST certainly placed on TV to try and slow down sales of the Samsung Galaxy S4 or discourage future buyers..

I read of people in the comments filling up 128 GB of crap on a PHONE!!?? Ha!?

One word comes to mind...............................Hoarder!! (Or just plan lazy!)

Since i don't have an internet plan, i usually carry A LOT of videos in my cellphone (right now, 1637). However a 32gb microsd flash do the trick.

Amazon is your friend. 64GB with speed under a $1 a GB...seriously, if you're buying a $600+ phone...what's $50 for removable storage...My S3 had a TON of bloatware crap and Samsung apps out the wazoo....ONLY one I have any use for is the video player, pop out window is kind of awesome.

32GB base model would have solved this issue. When will companies learn to stop skimping on CHEAP flash storage? Microsoft did it with the 32GB surface. Not only do they put it too little storage but they always partition it in the most stupid ways taking away more user storage.

techbeck said,
Why I prefer vanilla android and/or the option to have expandable storage.

Exactly! It'll be interesting to see how much free space Google's Stock GS4 comes with.

For storage SD card is good enough for me. But being able to uninstall the default Samsung apps / move apps to the SD card would make me much happier (without rooting or switching to a non-stock ROM, thank you).

Salty Wagyu said,
Android (4.2.2) alone takes up ~375 MB. 7GB is a shocking amount of bloat put in by Samsung o.O

It is odd. They do have many apps to start with though.

I've said time and again - the tech industry need to stop fobbing people off with their labelling. Most of us understand that we're going to lose 8% of a disks "labelled" capacity due to marketing BS, and that the OS takes some space - but your regular consumer wouldn't have a clue.

It's kind of like buying a car that is advertised as a 4 seater, but finding that they installed the engine in the rear seats, so you can only use two. No other industry would be allowed to get away with it.

And plus - does samsung REALLY need 6-7GB worth of software on a damn phone? I mean iOS takes up about a gig - I don't see why Samsung need 7 times the amount of space.

Samsung. This is not the time to be skimpy with storage. Don't emulate the many mistakes Microsoft has made with its recent products (and latest OS).

In its report, Watchdog pointed the finger at Samsung's "bloatware" for eating up so much space on the entry-level handset.

"Entry-level handset"?

The storage available to the user should be separate from the storage for the OS, that way they can state 16GB and that is what the user gets.

metallithrax said,
The storage available to the user should be separate from the storage for the OS, that way they can state 16GB and that is what the user gets.

Have you EVER bought ANY device sold this way?
No, you haven't.

The only thing that needed to be done to avoid this whole fiasco is to simply load less bloatware or even EASIER would be to just make 32GB the base model.

No, I haven't. But that's the point. If you advertise as 16GB then it should be 16GB (or whatever it would be) of storage for the user. Not "it's a 16GB machine, but we are taking 8+ of it for the OS and other **** we are putting on it".

metallithrax said,
No, I haven't. But that's the point. If you advertise as 16GB then it should be 16GB (or whatever it would be) of storage for the user. Not "it's a 16GB machine, but we are taking 8+ of it for the OS and other **** we are putting on it".

I absolutely agree. Have we bought anything like this? No, but no reason it shouldnt change. I never understood why that part of technology never fixed itself. Always, you buy a '300gb' hard drive with a computer, you turn it on to see its only 275gb. False advertising? Sort of, but no one complained I think because it was really SO much space (275 is 'really' close to 300, and 275 is still 'alot', back in the day that is).

Now with the phones, its almost always less than 32gb and on average I would say 50/50 carry content probably 30gb+, whereas back in the day no one had 5gb of content and could careless about a few GB on their ipod's. The advertising HAS to change...no more stupid fine print, *Technical Specifications: 8gb of junk loaded on, so really only 8GB of space for you, and too bad if you didn't read this fine print".

EVERYONE complain, it will change. In the meantime, they should simply state its a 8GB S4. Simple as that. But I know the problem with that, "then no one will buy it"...durrr. But then why lie to us AFTER you want our $700...greedy, conniving companies will never change.

theslam08 said,

I absolutely agree. Have we bought anything like this? No, but no reason it shouldnt change. I never understood why that part of technology never fixed itself. Always, you buy a '300gb' hard drive with a computer, you turn it on to see its only 275gb. False advertising? Sort of, but no one complained I think because it was really SO much space (275 is 'really' close to 300, and 275 is still 'alot', back in the day that is).

Now with the phones, its almost always less than 32gb and on average I would say 50/50 carry content probably 30gb+, whereas back in the day no one had 5gb of content and could careless about a few GB on their ipod's. The advertising HAS to change...no more stupid fine print, *Technical Specifications: 8gb of junk loaded on, so really only 8GB of space for you, and too bad if you didn't read this fine print".

EVERYONE complain, it will change. In the meantime, they should simply state its a 8GB S4. Simple as that. But I know the problem with that, "then no one will buy it"...durrr. But then why lie to us AFTER you want our $700...greedy, conniving companies will never change.


Computers will advertise HDD size because that's what it is. The user is always able to wipe the drive and load it up as secondary storage in the future, so the actual total capacity is the most important value.

Also, the 'smaller' size reported by the OS when connected a '300gb' drive is a well-known issue explored and explained in full years and years and yeeeeeaaaars ago, coming down the difference between 300 billion bytes and 300 gigabytes.

metallithrax said,
The storage available to the user should be separate from the storage for the OS, that way they can state 16GB and that is what the user gets.

Sadly, that is how it works. The storage device has a system partition and a user partition, so they knew going into this exactly what the size of the user partition would be. They chose not to advertise that number.

Yes, but how much more would it cost them to have separate storage for user files, or use more memory and actually state what is available to the user.

This needs to stop. This is 2013, all high-end smartphones should have 128GB minimum storage at this point. Hell, I have 85GB of music just in MP3s alone I cant even load onto my phone (I work all day where there is no cell signal and listen to my music). .

Let's assume you work 12-hour days (crazy, but some people do).
Let's assume that you encode your music at 320kbps (it's the "iTunes Standard", and has decent sound quality thanks to AAC encoding).

That works out to 144mb/h, or about 1.7gb per 12-hour work day.
Even if you switch to FLAC/Lossless audio, you're still looking at only around 10gb of music per 12-hour work day.

So you go to work, listen to your music, then come home and (if you want to change it up), throw some new stuff on there.

Yeah, it's not the most convenient, but if you set-up some playlists or use some randomizer scripts, it takes a couple of clicks, and 30 seconds max (you can plug your phone in to charge while it copies music, or leave it overnight, while you sleep).

I have a 60gb music collection, and I've found that I only really want to listen to about 8gb of it at a time. I add new stuff as I discover it, and delete old stuff as I get bored with it. Sure, it's still on my computer, in case I ever want to listen to it again, but I don't need it on my phone.

I have a 16gb iPhone, and even with all my apps and games, and the default 3-ish GB that iOS 6 takes up, I still have 3gb of space left.

You don't need your entire music collection with you at all times, and very few people actually *want* their entire music collection with them at all times.

So no, we don't need 128gb iPhones.

His point was just that memory is so cheap there is no reason why 16GB phones should exist at all. I totally agree. I just bought a Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB SSD for my computer for about $120. That is a crazy fast drive, way more than a smart phone would ever need, yet I paid about the same for it as it would cost to buy a 32 GB phone vs a 16 GB phone. How does that make any sense at all?

All modern phones should come with 32 GB standard with a reasonable upgrade cost (maybe $50) to get a 64 GB version.

128GB?? No, that would drive the cost of the phones up. Keep in mind that phones need pretty good performing storage, not just the bulk-rate memory found on most cheap USB drives.

You'll notice, though, that your 128gb SSD for your computer is easily twice the physical size of your smartphone. It costs a LOT MORE to miniaturize these components, deal with the additional heat they generate, and power they draw. Not to mention the more complex controller hardware and software required to address the additional storage space.

Nope. Manufacturing a tightly-integrated, highly miniaturized, extremely power-efficient smartphone is a LOT HARDER than slapping an off-the-shelf SSD into your PC.

cyberdrone2000 said,
Let's assume you work 12-hour days (crazy, but some people do).
Let's assume that you encode your music at 320kbps (it's the "iTunes Standard", and has decent sound quality thanks to AAC encoding).

That works out to 144mb/h, or about 1.7gb per 12-hour work day.
Even if you switch to FLAC/Lossless audio, you're still looking at only around 10gb of music per 12-hour work day.

So you go to work, listen to your music, then come home and (if you want to change it up), throw some new stuff on there.

Yeah, it's not the most convenient, but if you set-up some playlists or use some randomizer scripts, it takes a couple of clicks, and 30 seconds max (you can plug your phone in to charge while it copies music, or leave it overnight, while you sleep).

I have a 60gb music collection, and I've found that I only really want to listen to about 8gb of it at a time. I add new stuff as I discover it, and delete old stuff as I get bored with it. Sure, it's still on my computer, in case I ever want to listen to it again, but I don't need it on my phone.

I have a 16gb iPhone, and even with all my apps and games, and the default 3-ish GB that iOS 6 takes up, I still have 3gb of space left.

You don't need your entire music collection with you at all times, and very few people actually *want* their entire music collection with them at all times.

So no, we don't need 128gb iPhones.

People don't want to constantly manage what they have on their phone.

While I agree storage should be larger on modern flagships, yeah 128GB isn't necessary. 32GB would be a good new base size. SD cards let you offload things like music, photos, and videos without issue. Apps require internal storage. And Google needs to allow Google Music to download to SD.

mrp04 said,

People don't want to constantly manage what they have on their phone.

While I agree storage should be larger on modern flagships, yeah 128GB isn't necessary. 32GB would be a good new base size. SD cards let you offload things like music, photos, and videos without issue. Apps require internal storage. And Google needs to allow Google Music to download to SD.


People who don't want to "manage" what they have on their phone probably aren't fond of duplicating their entire music collection to it, either. This is why cloud streaming has been so popular. When it comes down to it, managing an mp3 collection is a royal PITA.

Having a job where you work all day with zero connectivity but is still leisurely enough that you can listen to music the whole time is such an extraordinary edge case that such a person is just going to have to deal with going above and beyond what the market is willing to accommodate.

cyberdrone2000 said,
You'll notice, though, that your 128gb SSD for your computer is easily twice the physical size of your smartphone. It costs a LOT MORE to miniaturize these components, deal with the additional heat they generate, and power they draw. Not to mention the more complex controller hardware and software required to address the additional storage space.

Nope. Manufacturing a tightly-integrated, highly miniaturized, extremely power-efficient smartphone is a LOT HARDER than slapping an off-the-shelf SSD into your PC.

I do realize this, that is why I said to the first post that 128 GB is high. However, 16 GB with a $100 upgrade to 32 GB has been the standard for years. You don't think the actual cost has gone down at all during that time?

I like how he says after he downloaded all his apps and used nearly all the 9gb space.. then on the next screen it shows applications usage 1.63gb haha

I don't think it takes into consideration offloaded files to storage. I have a 4GB game installed but I don't show 4GB of applications.

No. The the system and data partitions would have to be resized to regain all of the space, which (as far as I know) isn't going to be possible via an OTA update.

I think Samsung is just playing for the media.

The problem could also be solved by having never sold a 16GB version of this phone. Clearly they knew the size of the base image long before release. If they really wanted to be "The Next Big Thing", they could have made 32GB the base size WITHOUT charging anymore for it. We all know with memory prices where they are that is entirely possible. I do understand that they would lose some money for those who would normally pay extra for 32GB if that was a standard size, so they could have also put a 32GB storage device in and only allocated 16GB to user storage if they wanted to claim it was a 16GB phone.

Going forward, yes, they can reparation the device with an upgrade, but that would make doing it OTA a lot harder. They could release the upgrade

The PIT would have to be reconfigured and reflashed. I don't see how it would work without completely reflashing an entire system image (which at the least will be 1GB or more) and losing all data. It seems to me that makes it impossible for an OTA to do this.

adrynalyne said,
The PIT would have to be reconfigured and reflashed. I don't see how it would work without completely reflashing an entire system image (which at the least will be 1GB or more) and losing all data. It seems to me that makes it impossible for an OTA to do this.

Is it really not possible to resize a partition without wiping it? Is there something special about the flash memory used in this phone that makes it that way? Because Windows and Linux can resize partitions without destroying the data. The only issue would be moving any partitions after the system partition up to allow the data partition to grow. This can be done by moving the files and shouldn't take too long (maybe 30 minutes) with just 16GB total storage with fast read and write rates.

It may be possible, but I've never seen it happen. I don't know enough about the technical reasons on why you cannot though. The NAND in a phone is the not the same that you would find in something such as an SSD.

adrynalyne said,
It may be possible, but I've never seen it happen. I don't know enough about the technical reasons on why you cannot though. The NAND in a phone is the not the same that you would find in something such as an SSD.

Using traditional tools, it is only possible to extend a partition forward, not backward (I assume the system volume is before the user volume, so recreating a smaller system partition would leave a gap that could not be used unless the user partition was also recreated). It would be possible to copy the user file-system to a microSD card, then repatriation the device memory (may need to temporarily create a 2nd system partition where the user partition was during the update process). Once the phone has been re-sized, the user filesystem can be copied back onto internal memory and extended to use use all remaining space on the device.

Samsung could make cloud based storage available for users with WiFi who do not have a microSD card. USB is always an option too.

I don't know about the ROM for S4, but I have an S3 and when i download a custom ROM, TouchWiz based Roms are over 1 GB in size usually, and AOSP (pure google) roms are about 200 MB.

ACTIONpack said,
Reminds me of the 32GB Microsoft Surface.

Except you can actually manually free up storage on the Surface by offloading the recovery partition to a USB drive (there's a built in tool for this).

ACTIONpack said,
Reminds me of the 32GB Microsoft Surface.

Yes, but how many Android programs uses more than 1gb?. Instead in Windows, several programs uses over 4gb if not more.

Nightwind Hawk said,
I don't know about the ROM for S4, but I have an S3 and when i download a custom ROM, TouchWiz based Roms are over 1 GB in size usually, and AOSP (pure google) roms are about 200 MB.
The contents of the ROM are compressed.Once the apps are installed, that rom takes up far more space. Obviously you dont know the difference.

I understand they're compressed, but both of them are compressed. What I said was just to show the vague comparison ratio between the both. The point: Samsung's ROM is huge/bloated.

After all, that's what this article is about.