Android somehow takes up 60GB of storage on the latest Samsung phones. Yes, the Galaxy S23 is slowly trickling out to the masses, and we must highlight that in a storage space survey, Samsung’s new phones are way out of line with most of the ecosystem. Several users have reported their new Samsung devices use around 60GB for the system partition right out of the box. So if you have a 128GB phone, that’s nearly half your storage for the Android OS and packed-in apps. That’s four times the size of the normal Pixel 7 Pro system partition, which is 15GB. It’s the size of two Windows 11 installs, side by side. What could Samsung possibly be putting in there?!
We can speculate on why Samsung’s devices are so large. The company is known to have an inadequate software division that develops poor-quality code and seems to modify Android for the sake of it rather than improving it. Also, Samsung may be trying to create its own ecosystem that is distinct from Google’s, so it duplicates each of the apps that would usually come with its devices as part of a contractual obligation. Consequently, you end up with two app stores, two browsers, two voice assistants, two text messaging apps, two keyboards, and so on. All these are added to the system partition and generally cannot be removed.
Unlike the clean operating systems you’d get from Google or Apple, Samsung permits pre-installed apps by third parties who have paid for space on their devices. This allows Facebook, for instance, to obtain access to more extensive system permissions which would not be allowed in an app store, enabling it to keep track of users more effectively. Other common pre-loaded software includes Netflix, Microsoft Office, and Spotify. If a phone is purchased from a carrier there will also be extra applications included. Verizon’s offerings as well as other programs are hoping to sell to third parties. The amount of space taken up by these bloatware varies between countries and providers but users generally report that Samsung devices use around 60GB for the system storage.
Samsung’s Galaxy Android vs Google’s Pixel Android
Samsung’s 60GB system partition may seem large compared to the Pixel 7’s 15GB but it doesn’t come with the same benefits. A/B system partitions, which is not available on Samsung phones, mean that the Pixel 7 can have two copies of its operating system. One that is online and in use, and a second offline version sitting in the background. This means that when an OS update is downloaded, instead of a lengthy 30-minute reboot which Samsung phones require, Pixel phones only need a shorter 30-second reboot as the updated OS runs in the background. In addition, should something go wrong with the updated OS during boot-up, Android will switch back to the old OS and retry the update.
Android’s A/B partition feature first debuted in version 7.0 back in 2013; however, Samsung is the only major OEM that has not taken advantage of this capability. Google repeatedly threatened to make it mandatory, before eventually dropping its efforts. With virtual A/B partitions, the operating system can be updated without any additional requirements. The process involves creating a copy of the OS in the background and swapping it for the old version once boot-up is successful. Afterward, the older version is discarded entirely. Google provides a breakdown of how much extra space will be needed during an update. According to their calculations, 4.5GB is needed for the Android OS (plus some additional room for pre-installed apps), while compression reduces it to 2.1GB extra storage requirement during the update process. Here’s an in-depth review about Android OS capacity.
Compared to the Pixel phones, today Samsung’s Android OS is such a mess, it doesn’t seem like it will ever be able to adopt A/B partitions feature. That’s why system partition can grow over time, meaning that 60GB will only get bigger after each update rolls out. As usual, Samsung solves this by throwing more hardware at the problem. While the base model of 128GB might start to feel cramped, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has plenty of room for crapware, with sizes up to 1TB.
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