Half the storage on the Galaxy S4? Read the full story

If you read the newspapers or watch BBC’s Watchdog programme then you’ll soon see news of the Samsung Galaxy S4 storage “issue”. Headlines scream that the S4 comes with around half the storage you expect due to pre-installed apps.

First I wanted to check this and compare it with the slightly older Galaxy S3. I don’t remember any headlines mentioning the reduced storage when that was launched, so how much available storage does it have?


My wifes’ Samsung Galaxy S3, which has 16GB of internal storage, is absolutely full of crud. It’s rammed with games, apps, pictures and videos. Here’s what the internal storage looks like…

Half the storage on the Galaxy S4? Read the full story

So the Galaxy S3 actually has 11.35GB (of the original 16GB) available for user storage. We lose some space when a drive is formatted but it still means that around 4GB of stuff has been pre-installed and I can’t move it.

Out of the 11.35GB available there’s now games, apps and pictures that my wife has added too, so there’s now 9.46GB remaining.

Now for the Galaxy S4. This is absolutely brand new. I’ve just received a loan device from Tesco Mobile. I’ve taken it out of the box, logged in and taken this screenshot…

Half the storage on the Galaxy S4? Read the full story

As you can see, I have 9.15GB of “total space” and 8.45GB available on a phone with 16GB advertised storage. That means that around 6GB (allowing a bit for formatting) is taken up by apps and enhancements. That’s about 2GB more than the S3.

I had a check around and made a list of the Samsung-specific apps that had been pre-installed. These are below and you can’t remove these. Samsung tell us that The space is consumed with apps to “provide a high resolution display and more powerful features” for customers.

To be fair, I’ve got a HTC One here and there was around 8GB consumed before I started adding the pictures and videos included below. The One has 32GB of storage but you can’t put a microSD card in to supplement that. Imagine if this was advertised as a 16GB device (it’s actually 32GB of course here), there’d be headlines about this too…

Half the storage on the Galaxy S4? Read the full story

Samsung advises that customers can, at least, add further storage with a microSD data card.

This is an issue that isn’t going to go away and isn’t just restricted to Samsung. A lot of apps won’t install on external storage and many people also fill that onboard space with hi-res pictures and videos.

As more handset manufacturers add more software features and cool extras, it’ll all get installed on that advertised internal storage unless something changes. Is separate storage just for the pre-installed bloatware apps the answer? Should external storage cards stay? Should we make more use of the cloud storage that gets offered with most phones now?

Personally, if I saw a car advertised as 200BHP but then found that the air-con and on-board computer sucked out 80BHP I’d be pretty annoyed. Shouldn’t it be that a phone advertised as having 16GB or 32GB actually has 16GB or 32GB available??

Let us know in the comments. Personally I’m still a sucker for an external microSD ;)

Adapt Sound – 7.82MB
Animated photo – 2.8MB
Beauty Face – 4.83MB
Best Face – 1.93MB
ChatON – 14.1MB
ChatON V – 21.9MB
Chrome – 8.42MB
Dropbx – 5.27MB
Flipboard – 3.47MB
Group Play – 34.52MB
Kies – 1.17MB
S Health – 83.78MB
S Voice – 26.08MB
Samsung Apps – 8.37MB
Samsung Account – 7.6MB
Samsung Apps WIdget – 1.89MB
Samsung Books – 22.58MB
Samsung Hub – 8.93MB
Samsung Link – 22.1MB
Samsung Knox – 1.99MB
Samsung Keyboard – 6.67MB
Samsung Learning – 1.96MB
Samsung Music – 5.42MB
Samsung Print Service – 2.59MB
Samsung Setup Wizard – 3.85MB
Samsung Text to speech – 2.27MB
Samsung WatchON – 13.66MB
Samsung WatchON – 24.26MB

Huawei to hold event in London on 18th June
The Coolsmartphone Podcast - Episode 46
  • Darren Roberts

    If I remember rightly there was a bit of a to-do about the surfaces storage. I’m with you, if something is advertised as having16gb of storage it should be available storage. At least people could plan properly with their massive mp3 collections.

  • Iain McLaren

    I wouldn’t mind it so much if you had the choice of removing some of the bloatware that was on it if you knew you were never going to use it (without rooting). Some things on it just don’t interest me in the slightest, it’s the same with any manufacturer though and has been for some time. Very rarely have anyone comment on it in store though.

  • IT industry has been doing this for years – the whole broadband speed thing where you don’t get what they advertise. “IT people” are used to this, but there’s a whole new wave of consumers who aren’t “IT literate” and have a different expectation. Me? I always like to have an SD card slot, but I can see that changing over time – I have a NAS at home, but would prefer to stick all the media into the cloud…

  • weirdstuff

    I think it’s really bad. Just because the world as a whole is getting more technically adept (silver-surfers etc) the Technical Industries (specifically mobiles/tablets/laptops/computers) seem to be able to get away with what is essentially misrepresenting their products. This exists a little bit in other industries (like cars being advertised with a maximum speed that most will never achieve) but seems outrageously prevalent with Tech. Surely all it would take is trading standards to set a rule like ‘All tech products with storage must also carry an ‘actual storage capacity’ along with any such advertising’ and then everyone would understand? Simples.

  • ChicagoFM

    It happens with everything even external hard drive’s, what really annoys me are the pre-installed apps which you will never use and under able to remove. But from a consumer point of view are you purchasing as described and therefore fit for purpose.

  • Martin

    Looks like manufacturers are going to have to add an extra 8gig just for the OS and their bloatware.

  • Anonymous

    This is one of the great things about alternative ROMs on XDA – they dispense with the crap. Shame the manufacturers love to stop you doing this stuff.

    I wonder how Windows Phone and iPhones compare. I seem to remember the 16GB iPhone 4 having around 15GB free (maybe 14.something), but it was quite a bit at least, and even feeling slightly jipped about that!

    These days I tend to pay a bit more and go for the highest capacity of any going device, as I find it pays of in the end due to lack of frustration. However, memory built into phones is the most expensive flash memory… in the world!

    • Anonymous

      my htc titan ,(WP7.8), has 16gb internal memory and uses about 3.5gb for the operating system leaving 12gb or so free for use. i’m not totally sure about all the new fuss about this. for decades pcs have been sold by specifying the hard drive size but never saying how much is used up by the OS…

  • Carlos Willis

    for the many sheep in the world its an issue! but for the rest of us …XDA Developers is your friend!! As soon as i get the S4…i will root, and install a debloated firmware giving me…all that space back! Woo!

    • patch

      ha at least the sheep get a phone that they wanted and not have to root anything to get the phone to work how they wanted…lol those days of me messing around on a SPV are well gone…… fool

  • Richard Trahar

    And this is why Samsung should have abandoned 16gb models and do at least 32gb as a minimum as HTC has done. 16gb these days is nothing, and what makes it worse I can’t even get hold of a 64gb or even 32gb S4 outright or on a contract. At least with the iPhone 5/4S I could get 64gb the day it launched. High end phones these day should be at a minimum of 32gb, 64gb and 128gb.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, I absolutely agree about that. I also don’t understand why they see fit to charge sometimes hundreds more for the high-capacity versions when even the most expensive flash memory is relatively cheap these days.

      Good on HTC for making 32GB the low-end of their scale for the premium devices too, even though there’s no SD slot. If you think about it, the prices and capacities haven’t really changed much since the advent of the original iPhone, even though everything else has quite a lot (i.e. CPU speed, cores, GPU, RAM). The base spec was 8GB, rising to a maximum of 32 IIRC. The offline cost of a 64GB iPhone is approaching £800, which is patently ridiculous.