Galaxy S4

British consumer affairs show will air segment on Samsung's new handset next Wednesday

There's been some controversy over just how much of the Samsung Galaxy S4's internal storage is actually available for apps, music, pictures and other content. Of the 16 gigabytes on the current crop of GS4s, around 9.5 is available on the international model. On some U.S. carrier-branded models, it's even less.

Now it appears the phone's storage issues have caught the attention of long-running BBC consumer affairs show Watchdog, as a clip from the end of this week's edition reveals that it'll be investigating the S4 on its next broadcast, to go out next Wednesday, May 15. In the teaser, which we've embedded after the break, presenter Anne Robinson says "[Samsung] claims its new Galaxy phone has an extra-large memory - what did it forget to mention?"

The show will likely get into the difference between available and advertised storage, as well as reasons why a microSD card isn't necessarily a cure-all for storage problems on Android. For those wanting to tune in, Watchdog goes out on BBC1 at 8pm UK time next Wednesday.

Source: YouTube; via: Clove Blog


Reader comments

BBC Watchdog to investigate Samsung Galaxy S4 internal storage controversy


Agreed. 32GB should be the minimum for high end going forward. The bloat and software features are becoming too much for 16GB devices.

I don't understand why this pointless remark is made each and every time. We KNOW applications will not run. Instead of recycling this tired line it would be best to discuss what the SD card can be used for which is pictures, music, documents, etc. If those with so-called storage 'issues' would simply utilise an SD card, as intended, then very few would run into any problems on a 16GB devices.

The Carriers want you to use more Data, ATT and VZW are charging Premium for data and want you spending more money on the new data gouging Tier ripoff.

Google limits the memory because they want to get Drive more mainstream. Which is stupid imo. I have a 32gb GNex and have the 200 gb plan on drive because HD videos eat a lot of memory, and I don't like to stream music cause of the lag, i prefer it on my device.

That's not the point. More internal storage = more room for apps. Yes, we know we can alleviate the internal storage by using microSD for music, movies, pictures, etc, but some phones don't have that option. 8-9GB is not a lot for a high end device. If a company is gonna make a high end Android smartphone that can run games awesome, run 1080p video, things that take up a lot of space, etc; then they should be giving the user more storage. I'm glad HTC went with 32 and 64GB because Samsung really gimped the 16GB model. And they have rarely, if ever, offered the 64GB variant of their phones in North America. When Apple announces 3 storage options for the iPhone 5, they deliver. When Samsung announces 3, they give you 1 or 2. It's ridiculous.

If you know the answer, why are you complaining about others' preferences? We're allowed to have our own tastes and choices. People who want to do way more with their phones won't have the best storage option with just a 16GB GS4. And I'll say this - I want a 64GB One, but if I could readily get a 64GB GS4, then I would be on that possibly because of the potential to plug in a 64GB sd card and not have to worry about storage issues, period.

Actually, simply forcing Manufacturers to specify ONLY what is available to the user is the answer.

If the OS and their skin takes up 9gig, then don't even mention that 9Gig, just advertise what is available for users.

Anything other is sort of useless, since you have to violate your warranty in order use any more.

that is just ridiculous, every other computer sold in the world advertises what size hard drive it had built in, none of them say anything about the space that the OS takes up.

you dont see laptops for sale with a 478gb hard drive now do you? no they call it what it is, a computer with a 500gb hard drive.

your picking this phone because it is what you want, all its little features (awesome free apps preloaded that you cant erase included)that make it better than the other phones require more space...

Quite simple dear Watson-
A HDD size of 500gb of which usable space would be 478gb it is still a very fitting amount for literally a good life.
Yet, when the phone is 16gb and only 8gb is the only usable space, and yet we can't even remove most of the crap-ware"as oppose to a PC" naturally everyone will feel completely cheated as i am.

PC in example is less than 5% loss. No big deal. Phone we're talking about is 50% loss. Not really an even comparison. If you were only getting 250GB of the 500GB advertised, there'd sure as sh!t be an outcry.And nobody would be talking about this if the loss on the phone was only .8GB.

I know its expected to lose a few gb, but almost half, bit of a joke really. I hope one day there will be an option of choosing software and apps which are put on there rather than being forced.

You can directly blame that on Samsung and their BLOATIFULL touchjizz which takes up so mcuh more room and makes the phone a laggy mess.

It should really be advertised as an 8gb phone, its bending the truth to almost breaking point to say its a 16gb phone. memory is so cheap now they could have made it 24gb, 8gb for the OS etc and left the other 16gb to the user. All phone companies are guilty of this, 16gb should mean 16gb.

I think people realise there will be some capacity lost for formatting and the OS itself. However I agree the situation is now getting a bit silly.

I have a note 2 and I'm running an AOSP Rom which is about 200mg (compressed install), the official samsung ROM is 1.2GB compressed. So the amount of bloat put on these devices is substantial.

I personally think the starting capacities should be 32gb, and its nice to see HTC have done that with the One. At the very least it should be easier to get the higher capacity devices though carriers. It was impossible to get a 32GB or higher capacity Note 2 from a UK carrier.

I agree. Higher end smartphones should be 32/64GB options. Mid-tier smartphones 16GB's. Memory is cheap enough these days it really shouldn't be an issue.

Ah but less storage means using "the cloud" more which in turn means more data that you have to pay for with forced capped data plans (at least on most carriers). If you want to use a lot of data you can pay higher plan rates. There's a reason for everything.

You hit the nail on the head! I've been saying that for some time since the focus on stearing everyone to these "cloud" based services. To me, it's just obvious what the phone companies and providers are doing.

I'm holding out to see what the Nexus 5 and Motorola X phone have &, maybe, I'll give Samsung another look-see if they drop 32 or 64 GB in the S4 in the summer. Maybe this TV show will motivate them!

Exactly, put a rom on it that is half the size. The non touch on the screen, the s voice crap, multi Window, ir remote apps. Where did everyone think that would go?

And the tons of extra windows in settings to do all that crap. That uses a lot of storage, but hey you have an sd card, right?

Watchdog are not known for their technical competence, they are generally about making headline news, so don't expect particularly insightful reporting.

I do agree though that computing devices should be honest in their reporting of specifications. Whether laptop, desktop, phone or tablet, the published specification should state how much storage is available to the end user *after* the device software is installed, and how much RAM is available *after* the device has been booted from cold.

Sure, they can say 8GB flash storage (16GB installed of which 8GB reserved by system), and 1536MB RAM (total installed 2GB of which 512M) used by system, as at least that means less disappointed buyers.

The Surface devices from Microsoft got bad press over this too. Many laptops, now that SSDS are common and so often come with only 64G or 128G drives, lose a very large chunk of storage.

Seriously? What next a controversy over 2 Gb of RAM available? Where is my 48mbps of HSPA+ when I run speed test? Does my battery last as long as it says in the marketing? Does buying a Samsung really get me the attention of cute girls that the folks in the commercials get?

This is definitely a waste of time. Just purchase the 32gb version or be happy with the 64gb expandable sdcard. Stop complaining the storage is enough.

Says the moron who mocked the storage options of the Nexus 4... Samsung advertises it as 16GB. Consumers can barely use even half of that because Samsung's bloated "feature-full" Touchwiz takes up so much space.
"Stop complaining the storage is enough" And you know what the population of the entire world, or at least just the US, wants/needs when it comes to storage because you've done countless polls and studies to back up this claim? Riiiiight.


I usually just lurk around, but this guy just speaks out of his ass. I remember him being all over HTCs nuts. Now he's on samsungs? I believe he will move onto LGs next and forget about all the crap he's been saying about the new line of LGs phones.

Yes. But can you USE all of that 16GB? No. Even filesystem discrepancies aside, you're only able to use 8.something GB because Samsung's crappy Touchwiz/Nature UI is so bloated.
Let's put it another way. If you bought a 500GB hard drive and it came pre-loaded with a bunch of crap (let's just say half the amount of storage, for comparison's sake) the average user couldn't get rid of, you'd be ok with that? Because this is no different.

May be it is time for the law to have a look into this matter.I remember ISPs doing the same thing. Saying stuff like 10mb/s and after you purchased it, you found out it was only 3 or 4mb/s because of your distance from the exchange. Now they say up to! It changes a lot of things as now the customer may ask, "what speed will I actually get?" something similar should be done for memories on gadgets. Telling the customer the memory is 16 but the actual memory available to them is a mere 10GB

The "law" does not need to do anything about this matter.

The "customer" needs to educate him/herself about what it is they are buying.


Right, lets let them lie to us and teach every school kid and grandmother how to detect the lies. Why not let cereal companies put rat poison in the corn flakes and teach everybody how to eat around the poison?

The idea that everyone has to be educated as an electronics engineer instead of making electronics manufacturers be honest is sort of asinine. Everybody can't know everything.

Just in

When asked about the storage issue, a Samsung representative replied:

'Your storing it wrong'....

But like the OP said in the original article. Just throwing a microSD at the issue won't fix the partition 'magic'. If your stuck with 6.8GB left for application storage, that's it. There's no way to move that storage to the mircoSD card regardless how large it is. And rooting doesn't fix the issue either unless someone committed to code a way to use apps2sd that actually works in 4.0+. Honestly the like a few people already said just say that 8GB is the actually storage and bump up the capacities that you sell and just be truthful about the true size. Its extremely limiting to only have less then 10GB from the get go before you even start using the device as a normal user.

i agree with your sentiments but just if case you run into difficulties you may like to know that such an app does exist by the way. Its called FolderMount and works perfectly on 4.2.2 I'm using it now.

Why pick on the Galaxy? Its not like any other phone has the space advertised either. My HTC One does not have 32GB of free space that's for sure.

Well as an example.

If you were expecting 64 and got 58 you would have got 90% of the expected space.
If you were expecting 32 and got 25 you would have got 78% of the expected space.
If you were expecting 16 and got 9 you would have got 56% of the expected space.

Basically its more apparent with the lower capacity models because the OS takes up proportionally more room.

Some people barely know how to use Microsoft Word or Powerpoint, and you expect them to root their phone? Okay.

If you can watch a video you can root a phone. It's very very easy these days. Every CyanoGen install I've done has been seamless and worry free. There's even some one-click roots out there that work flawlessly.

I hate when people use root as the solution for the phones flaws. Most people that bought the phone are just average Joe's that got convinced to leave their iPhone's for a this product. I'm sure more then half of the people that have a Samsung phone don't even know half of the features that their phone has and you except them to root?

True. But he did give you the best solution around.

Just like you expect him to understand where the average user comes from you gotta see that he's gone through rooting, and trust me it is easy, and it's your best path to saving the most space.

root, throw debloated or AOSP rom on it when becomes available. problem solved.

or just use an app called FolderMount, its free in the play store with an option to do an in app purchase to unlock the pro version.

allows you to trick the phone and spoof the internal storage of an app to an SD card. it copies the files and makes a ghost on the internal but removes the internal data freeing up space especially on big apps like games.

I have always felt manufactures should only be allowed to advertise the user accessible storage. It could have a terabyte but what good would that do you if 990GB of it was bloat.

Since we all love car analogies:

This would be the equivalent of advertizing a car's internal space as not including the space taken up by the engine.

(Oh, and in regards to a bunch of other comments: "your" isn't the same as "you're")

Well, if we're going to get pissy about grammar, it is not appropriate to hyphenate an inanimate object to show a possessive quality. It should be written, "This would be the equivalent of advertizing[sic] the internal space of a car as not including the space taken up by the engine."

Or we could all unwind the drawers and just have a conversation...


What hyphen? Perhaps you're referring to the apostrophe, which indicates a possessive case.

Back on topic, I do agree that companies should be more transparent about how much usable capacity you'll have on the device.

^^LOL @ the grammar police failures.

P.S. Your car analogy would be much better if you replaced "engine" with "seats or entire interior of car."

Congratulations to the British for fixing ALL OF THEIR COUNTRIE'S REAL PROBLEMS! I mean they would have had to have done that first before getting to something completely trite like this right?

I think you seem to be confusing a consumer rights program which is supposed to deal with exactly this sort of thing with the government who deal with "ALL OF THE COUNTRIE'S REAL PROBLEMS", DOES THAT HELP YOU AT ALL?

Well, they have that universal health care thing licked. And their homicide rate is about 1/4 of that in the US.

Very important reporting .. LOL.

I mean , I love this: "Anne Robinson says "[Samsung] claims its new Galaxy phone has an extra-large memory ..."

When, exactly, has Samsung claimed "extra-LARGE" memory anywhere? HAHA ...

It's a silly news story by people looking to grab headlines. That said Samsung has gotten way overboard with bloat. One of the many reasons I immediately root and install Cyanogen on my phones when I get them. I'd just get a Nexus but, unfortunately, the idiots at LG made the Nexus 4 without CDMA or LTE support. Since I'm not on a GSM/HPSA network I couldnt' get the 4.

I use the sd card for pictures, documents, movies and music and the internal storage is for apps. I have more than enough space left on the phone but then again I don't install or play large capacity games. Unless you're a gamer, you're not going to run out of space.

This isn't unique to Samsung. No memory is what it says clearly on the box it is. Doesn't matter if it's a 320gb external harddrive, a lap top, a computer, a phone or an SD card. At least on computers and phones you get things like operating systems and pre-installed apps and services. There is no excuse for a 32gb Micro SD card to come with 27.8gb of usable space.

This has been a long time frustration of mine, buying storage to suit specific needs just to get home and find out it doesn't nearly have the advertised space.

All storage, regardless of it's form, should be stated in net (actual usable) space to the end user.

Then Anne Robinson says, "Samsung, you are the Weakest Link! Goodbye!" (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

My thoughts? If you are going to go after one company you damn well better go after them ALL. I don't care if on is 9.6 and the other is 13.whatever they are still advertising false information.

Memory and Hard Drive manufactuers calulate 1000 as 1 megabyte vs the true 1024. So everyone that has a Hard Drive or Memory Storage is lying to you..

Until i have the option to store my downloaded music from Google Play Music on the SD card... This will be a huge sticking point for me, and where i spend my consumer dollars. Storage space advertised should be available space AFTER the system files are installed. Not before.

This is really good. This is one of the biggest reasons I'll be skipping this darned device.

Apps don't install to SD and you also can't store your music from the play store to SD, if you do, the music app simply doesn't find it.

High end devices should have at least 32gb or 64gb as minimum storage.

OMG!! Whats all the fuss about! Buying a device! Look it up before purchase!! Not happy with it dont buy it! Simple really. Lets face it what are you really going to put on such a high end device that isnt already on it.. most apps take up very little space.. you want to play games that take up high amounts of capacity.. buy a better more game focused device..

@babus100 why would I want to store my google play music on my device. Google give you 20,000 song storage of your own music + whatever you buy from the store on top of that to stream and you can pin playlists to your device storage and remove again as you like. You dont use instant messanger services offline why would it be any different for digital music.

This is such a non-story. Those who care about such things already know, and Joe public who just upgrades his phone probably won't even notice. Aren't Samsung putting a free micro SD in the box now anyway?

Samsung (and others) should stop bloating phones with 100+ apps noone wants, noone uses and that can't be removed without rooting... it's ridiculous.