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Samsung defends 16GB S4's mere 8GB of usable storage

Samsung says the lack of usable space is down to 'powerful features' that take up room.

Samsung's Galaxy S4 has drawn criticism as phone fans discover the 16GB version of the 5-inch smart phone actually only has around 8GB of useful memory. Samsung has defended its flagship blower, saying you're getting more features and a higher-res display in return.

Nearly half of the S4's storage space (after a factory reset, our 16GB Galaxy S4 showed 8.49GB of available room) is taken up with the phone's operating system and built-in apps, limiting the amount of data you can store on the company's quad-core monster.

In a statement sent to CNET, Samsung says, "For the Galaxy S4 16GB model, approximately 6.85GB occupies [the] system part of internal memory, which is 1GB bigger than that of the Galaxy S3, in order to provide [a] high resolution display and more powerful features to our consumers."

I'm not sure how the S4's 1080p display would impact storage that much -- although the images and assets used in each app would have to be higher-res -- but the statement continues, "To offer the ultimate mobile experience to our users, Samsung provides [a] microSD slot on Galaxy S4 for extension of memory."

MicroSD app limits

Unlike the HTC One and iPhone 5, the Galaxy S4 does come with a microSD card slot, to expand the amount of storage at your disposal. What you might not know, however, is that Samsung doesn't let you install apps onto that card.

That means that while you can buy extra space for photos and videos, you'll need to keep a close eye on how many apps you install. Cutting-edge games will hog space -- Real Racing 3 for example asks for at least 1.2GB of free space on your phone, so it's easy to see how the S4's 8GB could quickly fill up.


When we put the S4's less-than-advertised storage to our Facebook fans, many (but not all) were annoyed.

"Samsung should be selling this as an 8GB phone, not 16GB!" a commenter writes. "Price should be lower then," another opines. "This is a scam and mis-advertising," one irate consumer says.

"I personally feel that if you buy a 16GB phone, it should have 16GB available for the user. When I buy a pint I expect a pint," another succinctly writes.

Some commenters think a spot of Android tinkering is the easy way to get that storage back. "Root... simples," one writes. Others aren't convinced though, with one opining, "For £550 you shouldn't have to void your warranty and potentially brick your phone, simply to have the advertised amount of space."

Not everyone is worried. "I've never got close to filling the internal storage on my S3," on unconcerned commenter says.

Samsung isn't the first company to come under fire for selling customers short on available space. Microsoft's 64GB Surface Pro has just 23GB of usable space, while the 8GB Wii U actually leaves just 3GB available to gamers.

What do you think of the S4's limited storage? Is it wrong of Samsung to market this version as a 16GB device, or is less capacity no big deal to you? Let me know in the comments, or on our spacious Facebook wall.

Now playing: Watch this: Samsung Galaxy S4

Update: Clarified language around what Samsung meant about the S3, and why the higher-res display might affect storage.