The Galaxy S4 is a beast of a phone, and very likely to be the best-selling Android device in the world this year. It's also pretty bloated when it comes to software: on a brand new, unsullied phone, more than 6GB of internal storage is taken up by Samsung's TouchWiz version of Android. Most markets don't yet have access to a 32GB or 64GB model, and the base 16GB version has less than 10GB of user-accessible storage available. After a less than flattering feature on the BBC consumer protection show WatchDog, Samsung gave the following statement to CNET UK:

"We appreciate this issue being raised and we will improve our communications. Also, we are reviewing the possibility to secure more memory space through further software optimisation. Samsung is committed to listening to our customers and responding to their needs as part of our innovation process."

Take note of the complete lack of commitment in that statement. It's important.

Samsung's reply to CNET is certainly mostly inspired by the BBC's investigation, but it might also have something to do with the fact that Google announced a Nexus-style S4 yesterday at Google I/O. The Galaxy S4 Google Edition will come with a completely stock version of Android 4.2, giving us a direct comparison with TouchWiz on the same hardware. Of course, we don't know how much or how little space the software on the Google Edition will take, but on similar Nexus devices, the System partition is generally much more trim.


Samsung and its fans have generally countered that since nearly all its devices have a MicroSD card slot, a lack of local storage is compensated for with expandable cards. But since Google decided to nix moving apps to the MicroSD card in Android 4.1, we're right back to the regrettable situation of relying on on-board storage for all apps, and most non-media content. Improving communications, as Samsung puts it, probably doesn't entail more that a disclaimer on retail packaging, much like hard drives have had for a while now.

With high-definition video and massive games becoming commonplace, power users are starting to demand at least 32GB of internal storage. Samsung really needs to trim the fat in TouchWiz, or start offering more capacious models on day one. Preferably both. Unfortunately, the company has only committed to "reviewing the possibility" at this point, which (if you'll pardon my cynicism) could mean a whole lot of nothing.

CNET - Samsung changes mind, will look at storage on Galaxy S4

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • ProductFRED

    inb4 Samsung says "We tried but it affects the user experience [blah blah blah]. Use the cloud, kthxbye."

  • ScottColbert

    Take not of the complete lack of commitment in that statement. It's important.

    I think you mean take note?

    • Jeremiah Rice

      Yup. Sorry about that.

      • Josh Legoza

        Also "probably doesn't entail more that a disclaimer on retail packaging"

        I think you mean "more than"?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667020551 Jose Torres

    So Samsung is pretty much saying that they will shoot out their typical updates and maybe trim off a few megabytes here and there over time, as they always do.


  • Babs Oyed

    Implement the only solution - get rid of 16gb. The minimum should be 32gb or 64gb on day one. 16gb should be the minimum in very low end phones.

    • Dan

      Yes! Force everyone to buy a phone with the amount of storage that Babs declares to be the only valid option. And there should only be one screen size. And no hardware keyboards.

      Alternately: STFU, buy the phone you want, and leave the rest of us alone to buy the phones we want.

      • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

        Dan is an idiot.

  • Chris

    32 and 64GB should really be standard. its 2013 after all. Cloud services like drop box are ok if you have an active connection but not everyone has that.

    • chris125

      that plus with unlimited data going by the wayside, more storage is better for limited data plans

  • JonJJon

    Has it been found out anywhere how much on board storage is available for the "nexus style" GS4? Just curious.

    • Michael Ta

      99% sure that it's the same as Nexus 4 since it's "pure" android.

    • Jarrod Bush

      Probably about 12 GB. Stock Android is around 4 GB.

      • lewishnl

        I don't think that's true... My 8GB Nexus 4 has about 6GB of usable space.

        • mgamerz

          Partitioning would do that, bigger space = more for partition

    • Drew M

      It's a hair under 13 GB free for the 16 GB Nexus4

      • Adrian Price

        he's on about the Google Samsung Galaxy S4 not the LG Nexus 4

        • anzensepp1987

          16GB =16GB - I don't think that the Google-ROM for the S4 will be much heavier than the N4-ROM...

        • squiddy20

          Stock Android is stock Android. It doesn't really vary from manufacturer to manufacturer since, well... GOOGLE is the one behind stock Android.

          • Adrian Price

            What the fuck are you talking about? The guy asked about 1 phone this other guy is talking about another. Read the comments before talking or your ass

          • squiddy20

            You obviously missed the point then. It doesn't matter what device it's on because, as I said above, stock Android is stock Android. It's the more or less the same size whether it's on a Nexus 4/7/10, Galaxy Nexus, HTC First, or this new de-Touchwizified S4. Same base apps, same capabilities, same UI (besides the obvious difference between tablet and phone UI). Basically, the only differences lie in the drivers used to communicate between hardware and software (due to the myriad of different hardware Android runs on), and *maybe* higher quality images for higher-res screens (like on tablets). Don't believe me? Go download a few of the factory images for the Nexus devices. Of the devices that have downloads for 4.2.2, there's only an ~75MB difference between the biggest (Nexus 4) and the smallest (yakju Galaxy Nexus).

            This whole thing can be likened to Windows. Upon a fresh install of Windows, be it on an HP, Acer, Dell, Gateway, what have you, assuming you go through the same process on each machine, you'll have basically the same amount of storage taken up by the OS on each machine. What we're talking about here is no different.

            Also, try proofreading your posts before you post them. You clearly missed a few words in that last sentence.

  • Asphyx

    The answer to this problem is quite simple....
    Abandon the old 8GB and 16GB standards in the future. If they only made units with 32GB or more, the price of those chips would drop like a rock and the only reason for putting low ram in would go away! The ever increasing proc speeds is slowly making bloatware a little less of the issue it used to be and now it's just the storage required to hold all the bloat that is the issue.

    If the Mobile manufacturers would just bite the bullet and put 64 GB in every unit the price would make it affordable and who knows they might have the R&D money to go up to 128 GB or more for the future.

    • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

      It's never a cost problem -- if OEMs get rid of the 16Gb, how can they give user an incentive to spend much more money to buy the 32Gb version when that extra 16Gb only costs them a tiny bit more to manufacturer. Do you really think the iPhone 16Gb costs $100 less than the 32Gb? Of course not. Samsung and other OEMs are simply following Apple's evil practice.

      • chris125

        samsung only charges $50 more though so they are only half as evil as apple lol

        • Asphyx

          The prices of the phones have little to anything to do with the size of the chips in them...

          It's all about what the Market Target is...

          16Gb = Cheap Buyer

          32 GB = Medium Spendr

          62 GB = Power User

          Make 32GB the low end and it will be the same price as the 16GB models are now!

          Because the only reason they charge more for more Ram is because they CAN because there is a 16GB model filling the Low end market!

          • chris125

            Ram is not what the 16/32/64 is...... May want to go search ram that's usually 1-2gb

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1443641660 Jason Lee

            target market has nothing to do with a £600/$600 phone, i have the 16gb version in the uk and its the only version available, and probably will be for some considerable time, we have only 1 LTE and one 3.5G network, soon to become 6, we only have one network with unlimited data, so things like dropbox is out and measly 1gb data plans are the most often available packages without paying crazy prices for data, the price difference at source between the 16gb and 32gb version is a massive $9/£9, it is 2013 and we are still hanging on 16gb flagship phones, my old nokia n96 of 5 years ago had 16gb storage, but back then it was not even a 1ghz processor, it was like a single core 260MHz or something, apps often were less then 2-3 mbs and even good games where only like 200mbs, and it even had a micro sd card slot, nowadays apps and games can be 10 times that size still on the same 16 storage, but now we have more complete os so you get less storage for bigger apps, how does that make sense.

      • Asphyx

        And if they bought enough quantity to put them in every unit they would only cost as much as the 16GB chips they use now!
        The issue is more 16Gb are in demand so they make more of them and it's cheaper. If they didn't have to make 16GB chips then they could leave the plant set up for 32 GB and the price on 32GB drops to 16GB levels...
        It's all Supply and Demand.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1443641660 Jason Lee

          there is only about £9/$9 difference for the storage between 16/32GB versions, and considering that the phone was £600/$600 it would have been as easy to put in the slightly bigger option and factored the cost into it, the consumer would never really have seen the difference

      • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

        Oh its eeeevvvviiiilllll in your very sheltered world....

  • http://www.geekchoice.com/washington-dc Dagmar Schneitz

    I'm a little confused. If the photo amount is 520MB, how many pictures can that hold?

    • Adrian Price

      thats how much space is being used by the phone by photos, not how much it can store, dumbass

      • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

        Your mommy is a dumbass.

        • Adrian Price

          Wow, what are you like 10 years old?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1443641660 Jason Lee

            says the person calling somebody a dumb-ass for asking about storage, he obviously is not as clued up on storage layouts and so is asking a valid question to help him understand i think the only 10 year old here is you.

  • Could be Anyone

    Samsung removing bloatware?

    Did someone at Samsung take too much drugs and can't think straight?

    • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

      They didn't say they were removing anything
      Of course they didn't really say...anything...

      • Could be Anyone

        Of course they didn't, Samsung loves bloatware and if anything they will include more bloatware in future updates like an extra 4GB of it.

  • chris125

    I will be interested to see what happens and what they get rid of if they do update it to free up some space.

  • PINJ

    I Dont Mind. I Mean Its Not Like This Is A 8GB Model. You Still Get Over 8GB Of Free Storage

    • Ridlion

      Why capitalize every word?

  • biggerguysf

    How about just loading in LESS CRAP!

  • http://twitter.com/armus75 Armus

    No S4 until vzw gets 32gb. 16 just isn't enough even with a 64gb card

  • grammar_nazi

    iSamsung is on its way down. The S3 was the climax, the S4 is the post-copulence cigarette, and there's nowhere to go but down from here.

    • Samsung Fanboy

      you're dumb.