Samsung addresses Galaxy S4 storage issues, wants to see how it can debloat TouchWiz

It’s no secret by now that Samsung’s TouchWiz has become too big for comfort. It’s a rather rich suite of features, but with that richness comes a hefty price — valuable internal storage. The Samsung Galaxy S4 launched late last month and set waves in the community when it was discovered that nearly half of the device’s internal storage was inaccessible.

Users had a valid complaint: when a phone is advertised to come with 16GB, there shouldn’t be close to half of that being taken up for OS use. Sure, formatted storage is always less than the advertised amount, but this falls outside the realm of normal. Initially, it seemed Samsung was brushing the issue off, noting that their phones come with microSD card slots for this very issue.

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t quite that simple. External storage can’t be used to store apps, games and other key app-related data (like offline music files in Google Play Music). With more games exceeding 1GB, apps getting bigger, and other factors it’s easy to see how one can use up all their internal storage in a short amount of time. Yours truly is a victim of those circumstances on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

galaxy-s4-usable-space

Samsung knows this, though, and has decided it wants to try and do something about it. A Samsung rep revealed to CNet that the company is exploring possibilities for easing the load TouchWiz has on storage. We’re sure any changes won’t result in the loss of features, but perhaps some image resource file optimizations and other compression techniques can be employed. Nothing’s certain, of course, so don’t hold Samsung to it if they eventually decide there’s no easy way to get more storage.

Many folks argue this is a problem Samsung should have solved from the get-go by putting more storage inside their devices. Indeed, if you have a major flagship in 2013 there’s no good reason it shouldn’t have at least 32GB of internal storage (or at least give users more than one option). Samsung didn’t totally abandon that thought as AT&T has an exclusive 32GB option being sold, but that doesn’t do much of anything for those on other carriers.

No matter where you stand on this issue, we have to take this time to remember that things will never be good enough for everyone. We don’t like that Google doesn’t employ external storage on its Nexus devices, but we still put up with it for the sake of getting a Nexus device.

Likewise, if folks want a Samsung Galaxy S4 they’re simply going to have to accept the fact that more than 40% of the device’s storage is inaccessible. It’s a classic case of always having to take the good with the bad, no matter what the situation is. I’m not saying users shouldn’t get on a soapbox and shout — that’s the best way to spark change, and it’s the main reason Samsung is even investigating this issue any further.

But it’s best not to approach this episode with a sense of entitlement, because we ought to be grateful that Samsung’s willing to listen at all. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that the “bad” in this situation can eventually be eradicated with a firmware upgrade.

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  • Matchstick

    Well in the case of the Nexus 4, personally I’m willing to put up with the storage limitations not because it’s a Nexus device but because the price charged fairly reflects those limitations.

    • Jerel Butler

      I agree with that

    • zifnab

      I guess I agree, but I would have gladly dropped another $100 for 32gb, or $150 – $200 for 64gb. That’s what I don’t get, consumers are ready to throw their money at these companies, but they keep offering a paltry 16gb of storage all the while trying to convince me that their cloud storage is a valid option. Its not, and won’t be any time soon. Until unlimited data is offered everywhere at the same speed onboard storage moves, cloud storage will never be an option. At least Samsung offers an sd slot, but Android has limited access to the sd card so much that its starting to become as worthless as cloud storage.

  • Jerel Butler

    “But it’s best not to approach this episode with a sense of entitlement, because we ought to be grateful that Samsung’s willing to listen at all.” Have you forgotten that Samsung are not our great and full of mercy overlords yet? We have the right to complain and to tell Google Samsung or who ever our problem otherwise they lose our dollars, we do not bend to them they bend to us. Don’t become a slave to a corporation and eating its crap because it is there.

    • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

      Like I said, you have every right to voice your concerns and you, or anyone else, definitely shouldn’t stop doing so. But it’s important not to lose sight of other perspectives at the same time.

      • Jerel Butler

        What, why should I care about their perspective, they are serving me, i buy their products, I don’t like it, I complain. if they choose to listen or light cigars with hundred dollar bills and laugh at me going “You already bought it so deal with it peasant.” Is up to them, but the smart money would be on listening. or they will lose my money.

        • CalypsoArt

          What he said.

        • blue720

          Exactly. We control what we buy. HTC found out the hard way, so will Samsung if they don’t adhere to our wishes. Money=control.

      • zifnab

        Their perspective is they want to be like Apple, so with that in mind they should provide a 16, 32, and 64gb version to every carrier. Not this 16 to all carriers and 32 to 1 carrier that no one with a brain wants to use. This is 2013, 16gb is NOT enough storage. Christ I just had to return a laptop because 256gb wasn’t enough. Files are bigger, data moves faster, we need more space end of story. Its not like people aren’t willing to pay for the extra storage or Apple wouldn’t continue to sell their 64gb model. Honestly in 2013 we should be seeing 32, 64 and 128.

      • nick olaguez

        Some people are never happy.

        • Jerel Butler

          Some people aren’t, doesn’t stop them from knowing what they want.

          • nick olaguez

            Chicken little.

    • mirage03

      We’re the customers and if we don’t like what a company does, we look for other options.. This is what competition is all about. Let’s be glad that samsung is willing to listen to the customers and if samsung decides not to address this issue, the costumers can’t do anything about it and people are still gonna buy the phone. This is a company we’re talking about.

  • http://www.colossaldamage.com/ SuperMarino

    When the Windows Surface Pro came out and people complained that you got 50% of the actual storage, didn’t Microsoft come out and make a point that the HDD (or whatever) holds X and the available storage space is approximately Y. I believed the planned to be upfront about this going forward. This really should be standard procedure in this day and age. Getting a magical phone that has 500 Gigs of space is completely useless if you only have 1 Gig around for storage.

  • thedicemaster

    they could start by throwing out all tablet resources.
    I don’t know how it is on the s4, but my note 2 will use a tablet theme for certain interface elements if I play around too much with xposed app settings.
    trimming the system partition might also add some space, my note 2 only uses 2/3 of the 2GB system partition.

  • Jason Parr

    If they want to advertise as a 16 or 32 and touch wiz is that big they should add more storage. I would guess that they could be sued for false advertisement on that. My gnex is a 32 gig model. It has 28 gig available out of the box. That is more acceptable!

    • http://www.facebook.com/madmikeX3 Michael Parks

      Perfect example of what’s wrong with America. Everyone wants to sue someone.

      • DontFeedTheTroll

        you are an idiot

        • http://www.facebook.com/madmikeX3 Michael Parks

          O dang. You told me.

      • squiddy20

        By your logic, I apparently want to sue someone. Newsflash: I don’t. Try using the correct quantifier next time.

        • http://www.facebook.com/madmikeX3 Michael Parks

          O you really got me good bro. A vast majority of American’s want to sue others over frivolous lawsuits. Such as the OP stated about false advertisement. Thanks for catching my horrible grammar.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Craig-Slits/1374344100 Craig Slits

            “a vast majority”…. pull your retarded head out of your a$$.
            That means by your logic, well over 50% of America wants to sue over frivolous lawsuits… You do understand math right?

          • http://www.facebook.com/madmikeX3 Michael Parks

            Dang. There is just no pleasing you. I will now kill myself.

  • jgraham49

    It will be interesting to see how much internal storage is available on the Vanilla GS4, so we can really see the bloat caused by TouchWiz.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500019603 Nathan Bell

      Stock jelly bean takes up about 2.3 gb

      • jgraham49

        Then other part is all the extra features that they include with it, and how much they take up.

        • Nathan Bell

          my 8GB Nexus 4 has 5.67 GB of usable storage, so the GS4 will probably have 13.67 or so

      • Michael Landauer

        On both my VZW GNex and my Lenovo A2109, stock Jelly Bean is only about 400MB. Granted the system partitions on both are 800MB, so that’s 800MB that can’t be used for apps and data regardless of the exact size of the ROM.

  • Greg Chason

    let people uninstall features they do not want from Touchwiz, that would help alleviate the problem

    • Dan

      People willing to root yes. I uninstalled a lot of bloatware but it didn’t give me much in return.

      • Greg Chason

        I know people willing to root can, my point is make it so anyone can. Sure it may not do a ton, but every little bit helps

        • RobertArias

          The danger in your option is that if someone who isn’t familiar with software can inadvertently delete files that can cause problems with the phone up to and including creating a $600 paper weight. There would have to be complete lockdown of all “essential operational files”. Sounds easy right? Wrong ! We then create a situation where either the manufacturer or carrier decides what “essential operational files” is defined as. This then leads to where we are today, bloatware and UI bloat. The phone circle of hell.

          • squiddy20

            No there wouldn’t. In Windows, you can delete all the programs you want (via the “Programs and Features” window) without ever touching the actual OS. If Samsung grouped off all of Touchwiz’s “features” from the actual OS, and made them modules or even separate apps, they could be removed safely. No one in this convo was talking about giving people root access or anything like that.

        • Dan

          ah misunderstood your meaning, yes I agree, they should let anyone uninstall bloatware

  • jbo1018

    No. Taking the good with the bad is crap. Google/Samsung/etc had ALL the relevant data to know how much apps were increasing in size in the last year nor two. Yet Google decides we don’t need ext storage anymore and that the few phones that still have it can’t use it for apps and app data. I don’t care for the cloud for a lot of things and apps and app data can’t be stores there. I really hope Google and these MFRs see how big of a problem this is becoming and fix it. Either 64GB minimum internal or re-allow ext storage to be used for app and their data and put it back on the phones.

    • RobertArias

      I can’t agree with certainty that Google is to blame for your concern. In creation of a manufacturer UI, they can design the file structure to allow external storage of more than media. At least that had been my personal experience. I will say also that, even with their UI warts, Samsung has strived to provide the most storage and ram possible through the evolution of their phones. One if the biggest reasons many of us stick with Sammy is the external storage option that is missing from so many phones today. I can say with certainty that this is why I didn’t pull the trigger on the HTC One. Trust me, I would have if the external storage was available. It’s an amazing phone

  • dsfdsf

    Is the space really used by touchwizz or if it is reserved in the system partition? That’s not the same. Too small system partition is not a good idea. Just look at the Nexus One.
    Can anybody with a GS4 put the output of the “df -h” console command?

  • Dan

    I always thought it was stupid that most carriers don’t offer a 32GB version of popular phones (such as the Note 2). 16GB is simply not enough for some people, even with the option of a micro-sd.

  • Mike Broder

    I totally disagree with your comment that we ought to be grateful. I work in Pharma marketing and I can tell you that under no certain circumstances are we allowed to make product claims that are false. Samsung (and every other manufacturer) advertises total memory. What they fail to disclose in any literature or anywhere for that matter is what total usable space is available. As consumers we should either get the appropriate memory advertised or have the option to remove software contents at our discretion to achieve the total memory capacity. Where else could you market a product with half the advertised capacity (or use) and this be considered acceptable? Manufacturers prey on the fact that the average consumer is oblivious. Not cool.

    • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

      Pharmaceutical marketing is vastly different. That’s an issue of public safety and health, and the advertising is regulated much more strictly. This is a phone.

      • squiddy20

        To put it in tech terms then, if you got a 500GB or 1TB hard drive, and half that space was taken up by crapware and useless files that you would never use, with no easy way of getting rid of any of it, you wouldn’t be the least bit upset?

        Additionally, false advertising is false advertising. Sure, the device *does* have 16GB of storage, but can you use even half that right out of the box? Barely. When people hear “you can get a 16GB S4 for X amount of dollars”, they expect to be able to use roughly 16GB. Not 8.

        • bmg314

          Well said and absolutely correct.

  • Alan Shearer

    Simple, either advertise usable space as memory of phone (in this case, as a 8gb rather than 16 gb phone, but clarify, user space.

    Or install enough memory for 16 for user and then what you need for system, in this case would be 24gb total.

  • Babs Oyed

    The solution is quite simple, get rid of the 16gb version and start at 32gb of Internal storage and also make 64gb available from day one.

  • Michael Quinlan

    What’s this? A manufacturer’s skin is bloated? Seriously though, I understand that Samsung thinks of Touchwiz as a differentiating factor – and it is one. I just don’t think they realize hire many people list it under “con” instead of “pro”.

  • blue720

    On another note, they are offering a pure Android version of the S4, which would not include Touchwiz and bring the storage closer to the full 16GB.

  • phinn

    Let me help Samsung with their touchwiz problem:

    http://source.android.com/
    http://www.cyanogenmod.org/

    • Jerel Butler

      That is the best fix I have seen so far

  • Jordan Caviness

    I hope the Stock Android GS4 will have more room…

  • Jeffrey Evans

    Storage is cheap these days. Why don’t they just add more for just the OS and leave 16 gigs for user allocation as they see fit? It’s not like the large phones don’t have room for another chip.

  • Kevin Johnsom

    So, what if they don’t do anything. People already brought the phone and the company has their money! That’s what happens when you gotta have the next great smartphone as soon as it drops. If Samsung says there’s nothing they can do to make storage better, then what?

  • Maximillion82

    Samsung already managed this. The Pure android s4 that was announced yesterday, just push an update that kills touch wiz for good leave it stock look and just implement the useful features on vanilla android.

  • Rauel Crespo

    Since the Galaxy S4 has already been molested by TouchWiz, why not moddify Android even further and have a way to install ALL APPS TO EXTERNAL STORAGE? If that was an option I wouldn’t even mind having half my storage eaten up by the OS, as long as I could install a bunch of games. Right now, the 16GB Galaxy S4 is a waste of good tech…Wait for the 32GB one, or better yet get the HTC One which has 26GB of storage from the get go.

  • Lee McLaurin

    Why not just put out a 129gb or a 256gb phone. Is storage THAT expensive.

  • Jay Holm

    Hmm, I wonder if Samsung is serious???

  • Bobby Phoenix

    The easy fix is have enough total memory to have the 16 or 32 gigs available after the “factory” stuff is on it. Simple isn’t it?

  • Bobby Phoenix

    The easy solution is make products with enough installed memory to have the advertised amount (16 or 32GB) available AFTER all the factory stuff is on it. Simple isn’t it?

  • endinyal

    The reality is, if a company like Apple pulled this stunt you guys would be demanding a class-action lawsuit. Yet when Samsung does it, you simply grab your ankles. Samsung is playing you guys to the max.

    Samsung should do the right thing and advertise the phone as an 8GB phone. Shame on them.

  • WadeDogg

    bad look sammy,

    they have the 32Gb variants on the way but they should’ve had them from the get-go.

  • mirage03

    The funny thing about this “issue” is people complain about the 8gb storage being too little for big premium games, but if the phone had 11 or 12 storage space available, people wouldn’t complain about it? If you’re a gamer on a phone, 12 gb of space won’t be enough, even the whole 16gb won’t be enough.. Just get a console or handheld for that.. Lol

    And usually, those who are into phone gaming are also into forums like this and xda, I’m pretty sure these are the same people who are into rooting and installing custom roms.. Regular gs4 users probably don’t download a lot of premium games on their phones.. But seriously, who has a lot of premium games in their phones? Just get a vita..

  • mirage03

    Oh and yes samsung is awesome and even decides to address this issue.. I wonder what bloat are gonna be removed.. Lol, how about the carrier’s bloats?

    Samsung ftw!

  • Sami

    This is the reason why i didn’t bought the 16gb model. Any news when the 32/64gb models are released? On the other hand, i think Notes are the true flagships of the Samsung family..