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Samsung’s 16GB Galaxy S4s Actually Offer Just Over Half of That in Usable Storage

Galaxy S4 storage

We have seen this story before. When folks would buy their 32GB iPods back in the day (I guess they still buy those things), you would see that the full amount of storage you purchased wouldn’t be available, given the device’s system takes up some of this space. So at the end of the day, buyers are getting a few gigs less than what is listed on the box. Depending on how many gigs you got, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but what about when the system and bloatware take up almost half of a device’s storage? Is that not crossing the line? 

As buyers are discovering, the smallest variant of the Galaxy S4 is a 16GB option, but once all is said and done, just 9GB is available for use – almost half of the device’s storage. Now, this is somewhat understandable to a certain degree, given the GS4 comes packed with a ton of software features such as Air View and all of that cool camera software. But as we mentioned, how much is too much?

Yes, the Galaxy S4 does support expandable storage, but at this point a heavy user is basically forced to buy an SD card in order to maintain a large app library or keep lots of media on their device. For the prices people are paying, it’s sort of a downer.

Via: Geek.com

  • http://twitter.com/Jose__S Jose Sanchez

    Even with the MicroSD card, is it possible to move the apps and have them run off of it? I tried to move some apps on my gf GS3 to the MicroSD and it would not do it.

  • itsgonnalast

    Great post. This is one major downside of all those useless Samsung features.

  • Cameron Johnson

    Should of purchased a Nexus ;)

  • brkshr

    This just made my decision between the One & S4 a lot easier! I haven’t been a big fan of HTCs for a couple years now, but I think it’s time to give them another chance.

    Edit: Well, this & the locked bootloaders killed it for me.

  • mgamerz

    It’s not really half if like 1-3GB is taken up just by formatting the disk. You could never get that space anyways.

  • Sparxx2k7

    I understand the argument, but on the flip-side, a 32gb microSD is ~$25 give or take …. suck it up and buy an external card or use the one that came out of your previous phone …. geesh. You’re already spending a large amount anyway on the phone in comparison (whether subsidized or retail), so why not spend the extra on the card?

    • Stoker

      Thanks to Samsung’s retarded setup and all the dumb android apps that hard code the path to the sd storage it actually matters a ton. I got the 16gb s3 and am running out of program space for stuff like gameloft games, etc, because of this in spite of my 64gb extsd card.

      Even if you’re rooted, the current solutions for the s3 do not fix this, they just change a link at mount time. It blows.

  • Guest

    That is 70% of the 9.62 not half. Just ask and I will go over the arithmetic with you.

    • http://twitter.com/savagejeep SavageJeep

      It’s 60.13% which is closer to half than your 70%.

      My Math (because you lose points when you don’t show your work)
      9.62/12=.6013

      • TylerChappell

        Except you really only get about 93% of advertised storage due to formatting before any software is installed.
        16*.93 = 14.88
        9.62/14.88 = 64.65%
        But what matters is that this is just another reason to choose the HTC One over the Galaxy S4 for $200.
        Even my *16GB* Droid DNA had 11GB available.

  • Brandon Golway

    At least they’re not as bad as Microsoft with the Surface: the 64 GB surface only has about 25 GB free and the 128 GB only has about 80 GB free. Everyone should just opt for the highest storage and be done with it.

  • Octotron

    I think the issue is the fact that this is being advertised as a 16GB storage capacity phone, yet, you can’t put 16GB worth of data on it. There is an assumption by society that 16GB means 16GB free, which is not the case. Most of the time, say, when you buy a hard drive, the OS takes up such a minimal proportional amount of space, you do not notice.

    Marketing sucks.

    • Brandon Golway

      It’s also the fact that the manufacturer represents the storage size in base 10 (1,000 10,000 etc..) whereas the computer calculates it in base 2 (1024 2048 4096 etc) so you lose a good amount of “space” in that calculation. I remember getting a terabyte HDD and after formatting it with NTFS it only had about 910 GB free, where the hell did ~90 GB go?

    • mgamerz

      It says on the box that due to formatting you won’t get 16GB no matter what. Likely had a lawsuit in the hard drive industry ages ago.

  • http://twitter.com/spdivr1122 Stephen

    why does it matter? there’s a micro sd card slot…

    • PhoenixPath

      Great! Show us how to put our apps on SD again?

      • Sp4rxx2k7

        If you have 9GB of apps, there’s something wrong with you.

        • PhoenixPath

          If you think the way you use your phone is the only “right” way to use it, there’s something even more wrong with you. :)

      • http://twitter.com/spdivr1122 Stephen

        to be fair, i dont play many games on my phone (and none that are THAT massive in size for that matter). I guess i’m a minority that doesnt have 4 gigabyte apps on their phone.

        • PhoenixPath

          I made no claims regarding your usage or the usage of others in comparison, I merely implied one possible reason for requiring more space.

          We all know 640k ought to be enough for everybody., ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/RobertALyon Robert Lyon

    4.2.2 takes up 3.08 GB on my N4.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mahnacheeto carolyn zanella

    storage size is one of those things that have basically stayed the same for the past 4 years. IMO they need to make 64gb standard by now. We have 32gb in 2010. Its been 3 years. thats gone kinda stale i guess.

    • Justin

      The only issue with that is simply the price people are willing to pay
      for the 64gb standard. But I agree that anything 16gb is simply not
      enough; Although it amazes me that there are still so many people who
      are still sporting a 16gb or even an 8gb device, and actually choosing
      to do so!

  • shooter50

    wow, all this whining about space yet everyone was running out to buy the 8G Nexus 4.
    What a fickle group

  • Steven Strain

    What’s frustrating is there is no clear confirmation form
    the carriers when and if ever they plan to get the 32/64GB models.. And trying
    to ask question about this always brings out a torrent of, “well you can always
    put in an SD…”, and of course you have to go through the whole song and dance and explain to people why that isn’t an option because you can’t port apps to SD.

    BTW I must say I’m a bit disappointed with Samsung, first they announce the S4 with the Exynos processor, then we find out we’re getting the Snapdragon instead. Not a big deal, the Qualcomm is good enough for me, but the lack of 32 GB a deal breaker. It’s like buying a Ferrari with only a 2 gallon gas tank. :/

    I guess I can hang on to my Apple 32GB S4 a few more weeks and see or get the HTC One.

    • Christopher Riner

      My buddy made the switch fro. The 5 and loved his new One

      • Calvin Williams

        Pointless comment.. if he had an S4 and went to a One that would be different.

        • Christopher Riner

          He said he had an iPhone, and was thinking of getting the One. I was just telling him I had a buddy who did the same and couldn’t be happier, its just some feedback to help him make a good decision ;)

  • Gage

    What happened to the 64gb option they had on the website when the announced it?

    • cryosx

      they always announce a 64 or 32, but those are never available on launch (or ever at all)

      • Justin

        They wait until everyone who can’t wait buys a 16gb version, then re-release it as a 32 or 64 gb version later on down the road and make a big deal about it to stay relevant.

  • http://twitter.com/armus75 Armus

    Where’s the beef? I want 32gb on board!

  • Rodeojones000

    How much of the space it’s taking up is because of TouchWiz and other crap Samsung puts in there? Serious question. Every Android device I’ve ever owned has been a stock, vanilla, skin and bloat-free phone/tablet so I have no idea how much the OEM skin impacts this.

    • ronaldo

      In other words, “if you buy this phone you bought the WRONG phone and are doing it wrong”

      • Rodeojones000

        This stopped being funny a long time ago.

        • ronaldo

          Oh well now you’re doing it wrong.

  • umataro42

    I found that out when I tried to move some apps to SD on my parents’ Atrix HDs. I hadn’t noticed that change in 4.0+ because I got the GNex. I suppose it still helps for pictures or music but I’m not going to root their phones so seems like expandable storage isn’t as helpful as it used to be.

  • RoadsterHD1

    I think this would only be an issue if you didn’t have expandable storage but i does so buy a 64GiG SD card and shut up…. :)

    • umataro42

      JB doesn’t allow app to SD, so while it would still be helpful for storing pictures, videos, audio, etc., a lot of games are getting bigger and would have to be stored internally. I guess you can root to get that option back, but not everyone roots, so for them, this wouldn’t be that helpful.

    • Steven Strain

      Think about it, you’re paying a lot of money for a phone and
      now we have to pay yet more money and buy an add on part to make to work right? Right?!

      I think Samsung should throw in that SD card for free!

  • RoadsterHD1

    Thats just the way it is because people want more, they just want more

    • PhoenixPath

      Obviously. No-one could actually need more than that for apps and such. /smh

  • David Verba

    I’m getting one just so I can be part of the certain class-action law suit because of this…

  • cryosx

    32 should be the default size now, not 16

    • r0lct

      Certainly on any flagship phone. Especially HTC and Samsung who dedicate huge amount of space for temp files.

      • Guest

        HTC did just that.

        • r0lct

          Yes. HTC got it right. Samsung didn’t.

          • RaptorOO7

            Yes lets applaud HTC for getting it right for the 1st time, every other time its been one cockup after another. Droid DNA, HTC 8x both on Verizon.

          • tomn1ce

            HTC is still missing the microsd card slot that Samsung has on the S4…..I have a 32GB on my G-Nexus and I find it lacking breathing room…

          • Brandon Golway

            Not me, 32 GB is enough for me. I have a bunch of music and apps on mine and still have about 4 GB left. 16 GB on my Rezound was pushing it though. I’m just going to go for the 64 GB S4 because it’s better to have more and not need it than not have enough and have to split up your media between internal and external.

        • cryosx

          Love em for that, got the 64 One on att

          • Brandon Golway

            I think I’m going to opt for that on T-Mobile also. I have 32 GB in my Gnex but having twice that in internal storage PLUS the option of having another 64 GB of external storage is awesome. Say hello to never running out of storage space again!

          • http://twitter.com/EzioAuditore007 Ezio 007 Shepard

            Unfortunately, the 64 GB HTC One is only available on AT&T.

          • Brandon Golway

            I meant the S4 not the One, sorry. I hope that still isn’t the case though :-/ If it is, I can always throw a 64 GB sdcard in there and be just as happy.

  • Prince Campbell III

    Why is everyone acting like this is something new??? It wouldn’t as much of n issue if all 4 carriers had the 32gb GS4 also, but it only looks like AT&T will. BUt I am sure it’s the same way with the 16gb HTC One, but like I said there is no issues because they have the 32gb coming out.

    • guest99

      There is no 16gb HTC One just 32gb and 64gb

      • Prince Campbell III

        Okay, well that tells you how much I really care about the One. But I hope someone gets the point I’m trying to make.

        • Turb0wned

          You should care about the ONE.

          • Prince Campbell III

            No, I shouldn’t.

          • Rodeojones000

            You’re right. He and everyone else should care about why the One is such an ugly looking and disappointing device.

          • http://www.droid-life.com/ Tim-o-tato

            You are so wrong. So wrong! lol

          • cryosx

            he’s probably on verizon

          • Prince Campbell III

            It doesn’t matter what carrier I have.

        • http://twitter.com/Belatukadro Justtyn Hutcheson

          People downvoting because they disagree is plain ridiculous. Though, to your original post and point, the availability of the larger-storage versions (32 & 64GB for the S4, 64GB for the One) is dicey at best from past experience, and let’s be honest, it doesn’t cost the company anywhere near $100 for the extra storage, so why would I pay that much? Also, with so many people “loving” Samsung for putting a MicroSD in their flagship, I don’t see why anyone can complain about internal storage at all. They money they spent on the slot and engineering it into the device replaces the cost of simply bumping the internal storage to a base 32GB, which would likely be plenty for the average user (note I said average, some people use more, but the majority use less, and either way is okay). So, as always, you get precisely what you pay for, with all of its advantages and disadvantages.

          • Prince Campbell III

            It’s all good, I was making a simple point. I also didn’t know there wasn’t a 16gb HTC One. It’s nothing serious for me to worry about that device period if I don’t plan on getting it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CoRrUpTeD2 Phil Ip

    Thankfully Root allows your to remove all the bloatware and useless applications off the phone to avoid these issues =D

    • r0lct

      But that’s only a small piece. The majority of that you will still lose on any TW based Rom. So unless you run aosp your going to have 5+ GB in temp files.

    • New_Guy

      And move apps to SD. That is so clutch and makes this irrelevant for those that aren’t afraid to gain root access.

      • r0lct

        That should help <5% of their users.

      • RaptorOO7

        can’t move apps 2 sd anymore.

        • New_Guy

          Really? Not even with apps like App2SD?

        • Brandon Golway

          Yea I saw this with my buddy’s galaxy tab 2, he only has 8gb internal but had a 32gb sdcard and we couldn’t figure out for the life of us how to do it. I know it could have been done before but apparently the “bind” option in CM/AOSP no longer exists, at least that’s what I found after searching for it for a while.

  • Martez Ward

    Thats what I thought. I had to root my note 2 just to gain that back

    • r0lct

      Yes, if it wasn’t for sd swap I would have sold my Note 2 by now.

  • Jroc869, Nexus-Life

    Its like they are taking a page out of Microsofts book

  • http://www.facebook.com/luis.rosado.1654 Luis Rosado

    this has been like since we had devices with internal storage and its perfectly normal, people should just understand what a partition is and what iwll be taken by the systme partition, the sgs4 does indeed have a 16gb storage capacity. its just like any other flash media device have to be re partition for w/e format it will be used.

    • http://twitter.com/lokhor Nick Monrad

      for a premium device this is pretty pathetic though

      • http://twitter.com/nedrudrelytmai Tyler Durden

        Cough DNA

      • New_Guy

        Not really, it’s about a gig and a half more than usual. No different than people who buy an 8GB Nexus 7, Kindle Fire, iPhone 4S, and have only 5GB available. The OS takes space as well as the bloatware

        Thankfully, Sammy makes these way to easy to root. My Note 2 takes about 30 seconds to gain root and presto.

    • r0lct

      However storage requirements of apps and TW are growing faster than the provided storage. This is almost as bad as the 8 GB Nexus 7

  • gregmr

    Must be from all those “features”

    • michael arazan

      IDK, the apps on that phone in the picture was over 1 GB, was wondering if it was all bloatware apps, still haven’t heard the official bloatware numbers yet

      • Brandon Golway

        I’m sure they have at least one “high-end” racing game like Asphalt 7 on there or something that takes up like a gig.

      • gregmr

        We know at least the TouchWiz cartoon is on there – one of the biggest offenders

  • http://twitter.com/nedrudrelytmai Tyler Durden

    Jellybean is getting bigger and bigger.

    • BrianLipp

      touchwiz is getting bloatier and bloatier

      • http://twitter.com/nedrudrelytmai Tyler Durden

        Doesn’t account for hardly any if this space.

        • BrianLipp

          i have a gnex, 32GB, 28 useable. JB takes up ~4GBs. so the rest of it on the GS4 has to be touchwiz/bloatware

          • http://twitter.com/nedrudrelytmai Tyler Durden

            I rooted and threw a custom rom on my Note 2 and had the same amount of GB left.

          • BrianLipp

            depends on the ROM. Im using an AOSP ROM on my GNex with no additions. Even on my N10 with CM10.1 it uses 5GB of the 32

        • New_Guy

          Exaclty, the majority of that is OS.

      • Turb0wned

        Fisher price is getting bloatier and bloatier.