Samsung responds to Galaxy S4 storage woes, says current setup is for the greater good

by: David GonzalesMay 3, 2013

samsung galaxy s4 vs htc one s4 lockscreen aa
When it came to light that up to 45% of the Samsung Galaxy S4’s internal storage space was taken up by “system apps” that rendered it unusable for user storage, many people voiced anger and disappointment. This was true at least for the Galaxy S4’s 16GB model, which apparently only offered users less than 9GB of actual available space, and the issue is now in the center of a heated discussion.

Today, Samsung has sent out a response to all those who have expressed concerns over this particular issue. According to the Samsung statement, which was first published through a report online on CNET, if you’re a Galaxy S4 user and you find the handset’s storage situation to be problematic, you really shouldn’t because they made things the way they are for your own benefit.

According to Samsung, the “system” part of the Galaxy S4’s internal memory takes up approximately 6.85GB of total space. That’s how users get left with less than 9GB for their own personal use. Is it wrong? Samsung says it isn’t, and in fact, it’s the reason why users are able to enjoy the phone’s “high resolution display and more powerful features.”

Samsung also notes that users who really need more storage space than the Galaxy S4 readily offers can turn to external solutions, and it has made things somewhat easier for them by bundling a free microSD card with every unit “for extension of memory.”

Up in arms over space

Samsung Galaxy S4 storage
Samsung’s stance on the issue is understandable, but for some users, what it did with all of that used up storage was never really a bone of contention. The problem was with the fact that it decided to advertise certain units of its Galaxy S4 as 16GB models even though users can only really use a little over 8GB of space in them.

As many have pointed out in various online discussions, Samsung can only fix the issue by either taking away some of the system applications to free up precious storage space, or simply selling the Galaxy S4 at a lower price which will reflect the fact that it comes with less user-available storage space than advertised. Of course, Samsung is probably loathe to do either one of those things, but it’s worth noting that the users themselves are the ones who have suggested these possibilities.

What else is there?

Is there a better way for Samsung to get out of this mess? We don’t know. But what we do know is that as smartphones such as the Galaxy S4 get more and more advanced, this will only become an even bigger issue that will affect more and more people. Since the mobile phone’s first inception, it has evolved to become a full-blown, always-on, handheld computer. There’s simply no excuse for phone makers to leave such sophisticated products with glaring, easily preventable flaws.

Back in the heyday of netbooks, manufacturers such as Acer, Asus, and Toshiba decided that the standard size for netbook hard drives should be 160GB. So they started releasing products that came with 160GB hard drives and sub-$500 price tags. For netbooks with Windows 7 pre-installed, approximately 9.4% of the total storage was taken up by the “system” while the rest became available to users for actual storage. That’s a whopping 90% of advertised storage space available for use in any way a user likes. And how many people complained about this? Absolutely none.

Samsung itself got on the netbook bandwagon, so it’s no stranger to what we’re referring to here. Perhaps it can heed some of the helpful suggestions that have been thrown out online. If it does, then we will no doubt see them implemented in some of its future products.

  • sid_m

    It’s 2013. Micro-SD slot or not, flagship phones should ship with a minimum of 32GB internal storage.

    • I was actually surprised they didn’t make 8Gig affordable Galaxy S4 version too. I know people that will buy it and add an SD card instantly.
      It’s not like people are having difficulties using their 8Gig nexus devices even without SD option

      • David Gonzales

        You raise an interesting point. Goes to show just how much taking away all the “extra” stuff helps with freeing up storage.

      • lil bit

        Because the NX4 has a lot of available storage. But 8GB in a S-series Samsung, with all the useless bloat, wtf? Are you really that stupid or are you off medication?

      • the 16gb nexus I had only used maybe 2gb if that?? Nothing I didn’t notice….but imo anything after 4 gb of use, the company should be forced to advertise it as say The Galaxy with 12gb….not 16! Isn’t this sorta false advertising???? I’m sure it isn’t but, it just seems wrong.

        • Jacob Guo

          Why don’t we sign an online petition and have congress look into it by calling the Samsung CEO to congresss to answer why 16GB wa advertised but only 8.84GB made available? Additionally, they are delaying the release of the 32GB, which most of us would have love to own. If Samsung seems so concerned to response to the unhappiness with millions of their customers, they may increase the internal space to 24GB, with a push from congress,to make space for the software and bloatware from carriers and samsung themselves.

          • Send your petition to the North Korean president – he can do better.

          • William

            While it should have been more than 9gb left, pretty much all storage don’t have the full amount. Even Iphone 16gb does not have 16gb space left over.

          • Pick Stupid

            Wtf? Do you think the congress know more about tech then nerds? If so you’re miles wrong. What’s the point of asking if we already know the answer – It’s actually a 16GB memory inside the cellphone and that’s why it’s advertised as this. Do you really think Samsung need to respond to why they weren’t the first manufacturer that only advertises how much free space there are left….

          • Pick Stupid

            You’re also suggesting that the congress (sigh) should force Samsung to use 32GB memory. You clearly now NOTHING about free market.

  • Honestly it should have been expected, but close to half the memory used by the system is a bit extreme. My personal thought would be that in the future they need to make a note of the approximate storage space on the phone after System usage. I’m not getting the S4, I’m waiting for the note 3 this time around, I doubt I would have bought the 16GB version even if I was going to upgrade because I know I use a ton of storage, but if I was a more casual user that shock of reduced space over what was advertised would really annoy me.

    I know I use a ton of storage for video and images… I have a 32GB S3 with a 32GB SD and I have had to go in and transfer all my images and video off the device 2 times (yes I use cloud storage, but I still have to get the items off the memory) Since I got it in June 2012 overall I have used approx 138GB of storage for images/videos. Space is a major concern for many users…

    • This issue is a good thing for samsung to consider in my note3. It should pack at least 32gb memory by then.

  • Nikkikoala

    I got my s4 on Tuesday..I didn’t see a free MicroSD card?!

    • Go back and claim it, it must have been stolen or dropped off the box.

      • bembol

        Must be a U.S. thing because my Bell didn’t include one,

      • Nikkikoala

        T-mobile says that the phone does not include a free microSD . Can anyone confirm that a microSD card has been included?

  • hamza

    can,t believe that

  • lil bit

    Ahah, greater good? S-voice anyone? Would be so much better without, why is this useless bloat even there? S-translator? Will it at all be able to translate simple words, looking at the quality of the rest of S apps and features, and deep tripadvisor integration, how is any of this good? These crappy features and useless apps make up a big part of the reasons why Note 2 was my first and last samsung, i rather have no features than non working or useless features. Xperia Z all the way, purity and beauty with no bloat.

    • Stacy B. Smith

      I voice text my state milages with S-Voice. I’m able to do so without looking at my phone. I used to write them down which is a little dangerous crossing the Glenn Spence bridge in Cincinnati. S-Voice has made it alot safer!

  • disqus_zTeSmyIQeA

    Does samsung know that apps cant be transfered or downloaded to micro sd card.

    • Mike Reid

      Sure they know. They’re just spouting marketing excuses.

      But don’t worry ! They’ll be happy to sell you later versions with more capacity…

  • freedomspopular

    I don’t see why everyone’s complaining. Not enough space for you? Wait for a higher storage version, or buy something else. Bunch of entitled whiners.

    • JGaLaXY

      If someone told you they had a 20oz bottle of Mountain Dew and you said “Ok, got the money for it, here you go…” Then gave you a bottle with 9 Ozs of Mountain Dew you wouldn’t be a little pissed? lol

      Annnnnnnnnnd….I can’t wait for god knows how long for a higher storage version…I got a cracked screen, stuffs ridiculous

      • desperately Need new phone

        Exactly. My screen is cracked too and the touch is way off. My eyes were set on this forever but I will not settle for that little storage. Pitiful. Now I don’t know what phone to get!

  • RaptorOO7

    Or maybe Samsung should have skipped the 16GB, errr 8GB S4 and shipped the 32GB and 64GB only that way customers didn’t need a jar of vaseline when using this device.

    I am left wondering whose benefit this is for, certainly NOT mine. I want space and its another reason I WON’T buy a GN 8.0, 16GB in the US with what 8-9GB of actual space if we are lucky. Yet they sell 16/32/64GB of the S4 overseas and 16/32GB of the GN 8.0 tablet overseas, just NOT in the US.

    Samsung you have lost this sale, you sized it wrong and I WILL vote with my wallet on another device that has 32GB with well over 20+GB of usable space on board.

    • Read several of your comments on other posts. I agree completely man, if they don’t release a 32gb or (preferably) a 64gb version in the US soon, I’m getting a different phone. I had been looking forward to an S4 but I WON’T be locked in to a 2 year contract with a quad-core device that only has 8gb of application storage.

  • “For the greater good”——Fight Club?

  • kascollet

    Samsung should have kept on copying Apple, not Microsoft :-D

  • “And how many people complained about this? Absolutely none.” This is incorrect. I for one always complain when manufactures only list the size of drives/storage, and not the “Available space for user.”. As recent as the release of the Windows 8 tablets this has been a huge issue. People complained enough that Microsoft says they will put both the max size (IE: 160GB), and the available space for users (IE: 120GB) plainly on the retail box. ALL manufacturers should do this.

  • TechGuy

    There is not even the choice of a 32Gb or 64Gb variant here in Europe. Nobody even has them for pre-order.

  • Well I can sympathize with the fact that almost 50% of advertised space is missing! But in all fairness – I recently bought a laptop with 1TB HDD. And guess what – available space is 904GB! That’s a whopping 100GB gone.. caput!
    That is the price we must be ready to pay. When tech advances so does the related crap! That is why I went for the 1TB HDD option anyway. I know I won’t get 1TB but i would get enough to satisfy my needs.
    People just need to be clear of what they want and not complain about what they don’t have! But as stated in the beginning, I do sympathize with this scenario.

    • kascollet

      This is a well-known issue in hard drive capacity calculation method. Nothing to do with the present topic.

      • Agreed on the calculation. And everything to do with present topic
        I purposefully didn’t mention the calculation part to see who would latch on to the most irrelevant part :)
        This is about the confusion created by Samsung in reporting space.. Similar to what Microsoft does reporting the TB value while calculating TiB. So as previously stated, people need to figure out what they want rather than complain about what is not present.
        One buys an F40 for a purpose – speed. Not comfort. Nobody complains the lack of airconditioning. Heck even one of the most basic and taken for granted things – a door handle – is not present! There is a string you pull to open the door! Nobody complained about even that! One has to be clear of his/her requirements else there will be 101 reasons to complain :)

  • bembol

    I have a 64GB Ultra SanDisk microSD but that’s not the point. We are being charged for 16GB when in reality there’s only less than 9GB. I have 8.44GB since Bell also decided to ADD their bloatware.

    Samsung needs to correct this if Apple (love them too) had done this the Internet would’ve crashed with all the backlash. I am waiting for my S-Cover Samsung.

    I agree it’s 2013 and 32GB should be the standard anyways.

  • Ftlum

    They need to let us install apps on the SD card. It’s otherwise next to useless. Had I known about the inability to fully use the SD card, I would have waited for 32 gb. This was false advertizing and will make me rethink about Samsung products.

    • David Gonzales

      I honestly cannot believe it.

  • Since when is this really news? Anyone with any knowledge of hardware knows total memory advertised isn’t total memory available, at least Samsung is the only major OEM sticking to uSD slots. Some people are impossible to please.

  • sirjohnj

    This may sound odd to many, but their way of thinking may me want to return to the iPhone with 32 to 64gb of memory without internal storage card. I and I alone will decide what is best for me even if it is temporarily the second best for now. their reasoning just might push me towards the iPhone 5S and 6.

  • When Have You Seen any “upgrade” or new version of any gadget released with that amount of storage LESS than its predecessor?? I have always been in Samsung’s corner, given how much I loved my 32GB S3. Although, even with the external card put in it, I’ve always thought it was annoying and a pain to even delegate my photo apps to store my photos externally, or figure out how to make sure apps like Spotify was storing music in the proper storage. Finally bought a 3rd party app to help me with it. With HD Games, Facebook Home, and other apps requiring more and more storage capacity, it seems ridiculous that Samsung would even release a phone with only 9 gb of available Internal storage, especially for the price. If the operating system needs more space than usual for it’s new features, then you make the phone with enough storage. It’s not like they didn’t tell every tech website the S4 would be released in 3 different storage capacities. To make things worse, Samsung scoffs, as if insulted, and acts like we are supposed to swoon over the new features (most of which I will never use, I got the S3 for its speed, camera, and sharing capabilites.. Loved how I could share virtually any Web content with other apps.. something my iPad sucks at) The S Features have rarely ever used, including the S Beam, that all was gimmicky. The S4 looks even more bloated. Then, they don’t even tell the consumers when, if ever, they will even release a 32GB version?? So if I buy the phone now, and an external card.. Samsung will release the 32GB a month later?? BUT I thought it was for the greater good, and I didn’t need that much internal storage?? (Also sick of their delay excuses, “they didn’t realize the demand, so they’re behind” BS,. .. IT’S ALL MARKETING HYPE) At least Apple doesn’t do that, and releases all storage capacities of the iPhone the same day! (Makes me second guess my anticipation for the S4. My current contract is up, and although I thought I’d never say it, the IPHONE 5, or HTC One is looking really nice right about now!

  • Dean

    i hope they don’t do the same with the note 3, as long as internal storage is fine (32 or 64) it’s fine but 16gb & all this crap… that’s a no for me then :(

  • William

    I want to thank everybody who buys a device when it first comes in, just to be disappointed by a flaw or not enough of this or that. That way I can enjoy my wait or get something else.

  • jieng





  • Si
  • Stacy B. Smith

    I agree advertising should be restricted to MINIMUM USABLE DISK SPACE (mabey even give it a cool acronym like MUDS) The manufacturer would have an allotted amount of empty space for updates. Instead of listing the GALAXY S4 as it as MUDS-8.8GB