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Galaxy S4 Storage Controversy Televised, Samsung Reviews

By - Source: Tech Radar | B 39 comments

Samsung responds to the Galaxy S4's storage space controversy, after being criticized on BBC One.

Those who own a Samsung Galaxy S4 are sure to be familiar with the now public problems the company has been facing concerning the phone's internal storage. Users have found that almost half of the advertised internal storage of the 16 GB version is used by the phone's own operating system and installed apps. While Samsung has stated that this is due to the "more powerful features" the phone houses, and that the external storage can be expanded, the issue still remains that only the internal storage can be used for installed applications, of which there are remarkably few.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Storage Space

Of all the people who are upset, Anne Robinson from BBC One's Watchdog took issue with Samsung not doing anything about this flaw and decided to voice her concerns on international television. In doing so, Samsung has subsequently released a statement saying that they "appreciate this issue being raised and will improve [their] communications," adding that they are "reviewing the possibility to secure more memory space through further software optimization." Do you think that phone companies should be reprimanded for advertising misleading information concerning their product's storage space, or are customers at fault for having too high expectations and not doing their research thoroughly enough? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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  • 19 Hide
    greghome , May 20, 2013 12:19 PM
    The iPhone 16GB only has 10GB of space for you to install Apps and put in Media files, while it's storage is completely non-expandable.....................
    Now tell me...........why is this not an issue with the iFone, Other Android Phones or even Windows phones?
  • 17 Hide
    4745454b , May 20, 2013 12:40 PM
    I know that 16GB isn't going to mean exactly 16GB. I would expect to have most of it however. But "almost half" is NOT acceptable. I could see as long as they covered themselves by saying "16GB internal/8GB usable" it would be on me to make sure I know what I'm getting. But if they say 16GB internal and I have to open it to find out I only have 8GB then there is a problem.
  • 16 Hide
    WithoutWeakness , May 20, 2013 12:24 PM
    This is a very similar issue to what Microsoft faced with their 32GB Surface RT only giving the user 16GB of usable space after the OS and apps.

    Part of me wants to side with Samsung and agree that users should understand that a portion of the internal memory will be unavailable due to the OS and pre-loaded apps. It would be easy for a Samsung fan to point out the availability of inexpensive 16-64GB MicroSD cards and the ability to cheaply increase the amount of available storage for users who need more.

    But it's hard to look at a situation like this, look at how cheap NAND is for a company like Samsung that manufactures their own memory, and try to understand why they didn't just make 32GB the base model. The extra $5-10 per device that it would cost for Samsung to double the internal memory would avoid a situation like this outright and give them another edge over their competitors on the specs sheet. I love Samsung but this was easily avoidable and should have been anticipated after what Microsoft had to deal with.
Other Comments
  • -4 Hide
    Grandmastersexsay , May 20, 2013 12:17 PM
    If the issue is that someone bought the 16 GB version of the S4 thinking they would have 16 GB of free space, it is not Samsung's fault they are an idiot.

    On the other hand, if the problem is that people, in the United States at least, are limited to the 16 GB version, and have no access to the 32 or 64 GB version, then that is the carrier's fault for not ordering them, not Samsung's.

    Either way, people trying to blame Samsung are just the Samsung haters. For those haters, I would like to point out there are more Samsung manufactured parts in your HTC or iPhone than HTC or Apple manufactured parts.

    Hopefully Samsung decides to do something about this undeserved bad press and brings us 256 GB base models on all future devices.
  • 19 Hide
    greghome , May 20, 2013 12:19 PM
    The iPhone 16GB only has 10GB of space for you to install Apps and put in Media files, while it's storage is completely non-expandable.....................
    Now tell me...........why is this not an issue with the iFone, Other Android Phones or even Windows phones?
  • 2 Hide
    icepick314 , May 20, 2013 12:20 PM
    why is it so hard for the phone makers to allow app installation on external storage?
    at the end of the day, 8, 16, and 32GB isn't enough when you don't have 8, 16, and 32GB to begin with and you start installing your collection of apps and media...
  • 16 Hide
    WithoutWeakness , May 20, 2013 12:24 PM
    This is a very similar issue to what Microsoft faced with their 32GB Surface RT only giving the user 16GB of usable space after the OS and apps.

    Part of me wants to side with Samsung and agree that users should understand that a portion of the internal memory will be unavailable due to the OS and pre-loaded apps. It would be easy for a Samsung fan to point out the availability of inexpensive 16-64GB MicroSD cards and the ability to cheaply increase the amount of available storage for users who need more.

    But it's hard to look at a situation like this, look at how cheap NAND is for a company like Samsung that manufactures their own memory, and try to understand why they didn't just make 32GB the base model. The extra $5-10 per device that it would cost for Samsung to double the internal memory would avoid a situation like this outright and give them another edge over their competitors on the specs sheet. I love Samsung but this was easily avoidable and should have been anticipated after what Microsoft had to deal with.
  • 9 Hide
    Grandmastersexsay , May 20, 2013 12:26 PM
    Quote:
    why is it so hard for the phone makers to allow app installation on external storage?
    at the end of the day, 8, 16, and 32GB isn't enough when you don't have 8, 16, and 32GB to begin with and you start installing your collection of apps and media...


    Google doesn't like external storage. They want you paying for their cloud service. 64 GB works out to $5.44/month Google would be losing. Plus they love having some private data to scan to aid in their targeted advertising campaign and plans for world domination. You can literally buy a hard drive of equivalent size every month for what Google charges. It is no wonder they don't offer SD slots on their phones and removed App 2 SD support from Android awhile ago.
  • 6 Hide
    sporkimus , May 20, 2013 12:39 PM
    Here's the issue. Why is it so hard for manufacturers to just give the consumers what they are advertising? If you advertise 16GB, then give us 16GB (or at least something very close). If you need to install a ton of bloatware, then do it on separate partition within the memory.
    If the phone will only have 8GB of actual available storage, then advertise it as such. End of issue.
  • 17 Hide
    4745454b , May 20, 2013 12:40 PM
    I know that 16GB isn't going to mean exactly 16GB. I would expect to have most of it however. But "almost half" is NOT acceptable. I could see as long as they covered themselves by saying "16GB internal/8GB usable" it would be on me to make sure I know what I'm getting. But if they say 16GB internal and I have to open it to find out I only have 8GB then there is a problem.
  • 7 Hide
    ddpruitt , May 20, 2013 12:43 PM
    If you have less than 90% of the advertised space available to you they should let you know. Using half or even a quarter of your storage space just to run is a little ridiculous. The easy solution is to bump up the storage to 32Gb or 64Gb. I have trouble understanding how flash is so cheap and manufacturers still refuse to add any significant storage to their devices. I still have an older Archos 605 that has a 160Gb drive!
  • 1 Hide
    becherovka , May 20, 2013 12:45 PM
    I would expect some of the memory to be lost, tho this was not the case with all phones. One of my phones had storage for the stock rom separate to the useable advertised memory. 8 gig of apps is quite a lot, considering media can be on SD card, if you are a heavy user like that wouldn't you go with the 32gig option.
  • 4 Hide
    threehosts , May 20, 2013 1:16 PM
    Quote:
    If the issue is that someone bought the 16 GB version of the S4 thinking they would have 16 GB of free space, it is not Samsung's fault they are an idiot.

    Now you are quite harsh on people. I don't think it is OK with this at all. It's like you buy and pay for 16 gallons of gasoline but only get 8. Now, there is a long tradition of delivering less storage space than advertised when it comes to hard drives which to a large part is due to the 2^n "confusion" and also to a considerable part due to the need to reserve some of the storage space for file system data such as the MBR, partition table, meta-data etc. As an educated buyer with a lot of space for hard drives in the computer case and a wide selection of large hard drives we have learned to accept this and compensate whenever it is necessary, even though I wouldn't say this is OK either.

    This is a non-issue with chip based memory such as RAM. If you buy 4GB of RAM this is what you get (and not some stinking 3.67GB or something along those lines).

    So as with RAM, this should also apply with SSD storage. There is no problem whatsoever to add cells so that it truthfully comprises exactly 16GB as advertised. SSD storage is ridiculously small as it is when it comes to smartphones and portable media players, so any deviation from the advertised storage space is quite palpable.

    When it comes to storage space used for the operating system, Android has its own ROM so I find it hard to see why the phone would need so much of it's storage space. I guess 1 GB max would be acceptable but then again, they shouldn't advertise that the phone has 16GB of storage space when 1GB of it is reserved for the system. So even here, the manufacturer can actually add cells to compensate or simply say that it merely has 15GB of storage space. I know that Windows based phones and tablets (particularly those with WinRT and Win8) are even worse than Android based ditto, but that leaves no excuse for Samsung and their ilk to do the same.

    I think what the manufacturers do is unethical and a false advertising where they mislead people to believe that their devices are better than they actually are. I can understand that some people might feel that this is not such a big deal. But the line has to be drawn somewhere and I think that the phone manufacturers have crossed this line.

    Think about it, we're talking flagship products here and this is 2013. Do you remember when your computer had no more than about 12GB of storage space? I can tell you that it was well more than 10 years ago. If you buy a small laptop today, it comes with 2TB of storage space, that's 2 whooping TeraBytes! If you want one with a faster SSD, you can get one with 512GB without too much of a price-premium. So I find what the phone and tablet manufacturers are doing is absolutely unbelievable and unacceptable.

    You could speculate that perhaps they don't to put too much storage space as a ruse to push people towards on-line services. If they think limiting storage really will do that then they are doing themselves a great disservice. When considering the unreliability of today's mobile networks, especially when travelling, using on-line services as a replacement for internal storage is not a viable option. If you analyze the situation more carefully you will find that the more storage a device has the higher the desire for on-line backup solutions will be. So, larger internal storage space will rather increase the demand for on-line cloud based services and not decrease them. When you think further about it, even people behind real computers and HTPC systems with profuse amounts of internal storage still buy digital streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify...

    So a big appeal to those cell phone manufacturers is stop with this clownery and release devices with 100+GB plus expandable storage that deliver as advertised. Home computers passed the 100GB over 10 years ago and yet, portable devices have not even caught up even with that.
  • 1 Hide
    rbagany , May 20, 2013 1:31 PM
    ID10T error...
  • -5 Hide
    wysir , May 20, 2013 1:46 PM
    Quote:
    So a big appeal to those cell phone manufacturers is stop with this clownery and release devices with 100+GB plus expandable storage that deliver as advertised. Home computers passed the 100GB over 10 years ago and yet, portable devices have not even caught up even with that.


    They aren't clowning around as far as space goes. If you want a smart phone with 100GB, it will look like the old mobile phones you could knock somebody out col with. There are huge limitations due to the device size and the fact that consumers expect the battery to last 16+ hours. Phone technology keeps getting better and requiring less battery power per phone performance. Phone batteries are slowly getting better, but not nearly as quickly as technology is progressing.

    To compare smart phones and computers as far as capabilities are concerned is ludicrous.
    /rant

    You can't really blame Samsung for this. Companies have been doing this for years regardless of what the technology product. Gas stations advertise their prices as (ie 3.37&9/10 per gallon). However, there needs to be a regulation for all technology devices proclaiming how much space is usable, along with total capacity.
  • 2 Hide
    spartanmk2 , May 20, 2013 1:55 PM
    I agree they (any tech company advertising storage/space) should list only the available storage after they install the OS and apps.
  • 3 Hide
    ohim , May 20, 2013 2:14 PM
    This happens to PCs hard drives since the beginning of time, why do we find idiots with shiny phones wonder about it now ?
  • -2 Hide
    redeemer , May 20, 2013 2:19 PM
    Here the thing there is lag on the S4, the firmware update help a bit. Secondly the plastics used with its "Hyper Glaze" makes your hands feel greasy. Now I appreciated the Touchwiz, features and enhancements but seriously the OS image is huge. We cannot even install apps on the SD card. My music is on the cloud and I stream my movies, so I absolutely have no use for SD storage. I returned my S4 for an HTC One never looked back.
  • -3 Hide
    teh_chem , May 20, 2013 2:29 PM
    For the love of god, stop. This is nothing new. And as far as I can tell, Samsung never advertised 16GB (or whatever the size) of AVAILABLE storage.
    Of course, wording is going to be used that implies the most available storage. But it's pretty naive or ignorant to assume complete access to all of the storage installed. If you buy a desktop computer with a 500GB hard drive, you don't get 500GB of available storage space due to formatting issues and OS size. Expecting anything otherwise out of a computer that happens to fit in your pants pocket is silly.
    All of that being said, I think the manufacturer should list available space. But I also don't think it's worth any of this attention if they don't.
  • 4 Hide
    threehosts , May 20, 2013 2:36 PM
    Quote:
    ... If you want a smart phone with 100GB, it will look like the old mobile phones you could knock somebody out col with. There are huge limitations due to the device size and the fact that consumers expect the battery to last 16+ hours.

    What a ludicrous statement! To make a point, you can easily fit two or even more 64GB microSD chips into a phone and yet it will be "ultraslim". I can even go as far as to say that you can stack a full-height CF slot and a full SD card slot on top of each other behind the screen and yet have a fairly slim phone. The old HTC Roadster has exactly that and is no more than .45 inches thick.



    The power consumption of such storage is negligible compared to more demanding components such as the display, CPU, WiFi, GPS or mobile communications modules. And the difference in power consumption between a smaller storage chip and a larger chip is even more negligible.

    To make another point, the iPod Classic 160GB has a power hungry hard drive and yet it offers up to 36 hours of playback time.

    E.g. Toshiba has had 128 GB SoC e-MMC modules in full-scale production since 2010 and before that there were other possibilities as well. Slapping two of those chips into a phone wouldn't affect the form-factor and nor would the battery life be noticeably shorter. Also, at the beginning of this year, Toshiba has offered these chips using 19nm lithography which brings the power consumption even lower. They are not only less power consuming but also faster.
  • 3 Hide
    Grandmastersexsay , May 20, 2013 2:42 PM
    Quote:
    Here the thing there is lag on the S4, the firmware update help a bit. Secondly the plastics used with its "Hyper Glaze" makes your hands feel greasy. Now I appreciated the Touchwiz, features and enhancements but seriously the OS image is huge. We cannot even install apps on the SD card. My music is on the cloud and I stream my movies, so I absolutely have no use for SD storage. I returned my S4 for an HTC One never looked back.


    It looks like HTC can only afford to outsource their online smear campaign to Chinese firms. If HTC wasn't on the verge of bankruptcy, maybe they could afford people to spew this dribble who could actually use proper sentence structure.

    Maybe if HTC worried about what was on the inside of their phones as much as they worried about the exterior that gets covered with a case anyway, they wouldn't be getting ready to go out of business.


  • 3 Hide
    Shin-san , May 20, 2013 3:04 PM
    I had the displeasure of using an Android phone with less than 1 gig of internal storage (but could take 32 gig micro SD cards). Just the standard updates will fill up the internal storage, and you can't install 100% of the apps to the SD card, maybe 30-70% of them. I constantly have to clear out space. A lot of Android apps tend to take up internal space for caching
    You also can't just run apps from ROM anymore. As soon as you get an update, the app gets installed onto your internal storage. I also don't like that these devices are getting rid of the micro SD card expansion, which gives you a lot of storage space for media. Luckily, the S4 looks like it still has one.
  • 1 Hide
    Mike Honcho , May 20, 2013 3:06 PM
    Quote:
    The iPhone 16GB only has 10GB of space for you to install Apps and put in Media files, while it's storage is completely non-expandable.....................
    Now tell me...........why is this not an issue with the iFone, Other Android Phones or even Windows phones?

    Actually it has over 14gb available. That is tolerable. This... not so much.
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