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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra reviewers are experiencing high system data usage – up to 60GB

By Liu Hongzuo - on 7 Feb 2023, 4:49pm

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra reviewers are experiencing high system data usage – up to 60GB

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in Phantom Black.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has been seeded to various technology publications, and many of its users are bemoaning the massive storage sacrificed to house Samsung’s system data. 

As reported by Ars Technica, Android Authority, and as seen on social media services like Twitter, various technology publications and its editorial staff have noticed that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (and Samsung phones in general) occupy tons of storage space for system data. Several users on Samsung are seeing up to 60GB being occupied.

For comparison, flagship phones from other brands tend to use significantly lower amounts of GBs for system data. Per Mishaal Rahman’s sharing (Senior Technical Editor of Esper, an Android fleet management platform), the ASUS ZenFone 9 roughly uses 20GB+ for its system files. Google Pixel 7 Pro uses 15GB. 

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review unit at HardwareZone (8GB RAM with 256GB storage Phantom Black) uses almost 37.90GB for system files. This doesn’t include apps or files we’ve loaded for testing. The Galaxy S22 Ultra (its predecessor) in our other hand (literally) uses 37.10GB for system data, which isn’t that far off between generations. Both are recently reformatted phones (because of our testing and review period).

While it’s nowhere near 60GB, it can mean that Samsung Singapore probably went easy on us by not having too many duplicate pieces of software, or they didn’t go too overboard with tying in too many third-party partners – even between different generations of Galaxy S phones. 

Apps-wise, the Galaxy S23 Ultra we have comes preinstalled with the full Google suite (Chrome, Gmail, Drive, Meet, etc.), some Microsoft apps (365 Office, OneDrive, Outlook), and Netflix, on top of Samsung’s proprietary apps like Samsung Global Goals, Game Launcher, and Galaxy Store and many more. However, our S23 Ultra's storage breakdown already caters for these apps (under Apps, which is 7.84GB, including our benchmarking and other testing apps).

But, it could be too early for Singapore Samsung users to celebrate. The same publications claim that Samsung is one of the only Android phone brands not using A/B system partitions for OS updates (which is very odd, given that Google made it compulsory since Android 11, as captured in this developer note).

This means that all 60GB of system data these reviewers are seeing is a single copy of Samsung’s One UI operating system and all the bundled or duplicated apps that cannot be easily deleted. If you’re on a 128GB phone variant, that’s a lot of space sacrificed to keep the phone up and running. And because Samsung isn’t using any A/B partitioning for its operating system anywhere else, that also applies to our review units (and your personal Galaxy S devices, too).

Taken from Android Open Source Project's documentation about A/B partitioning for the Android operating system.

If you’re really curious, Google claims that a single partition of the Google Pixel's operating system should be around 4.5GB (before factoring in transient space requirement and preinstalled apps), and up to 9GB for those running a virtual copy of firmware for seamless phone updates. Hence, the extra storage space you see consumed by different brands is a combination of other factors, ranging from Google’s compulsory, preinstalled apps, to additional software and features (or bloatware) from different vendors and OEMs.

Samsung, with its One UI and its massive ecosystem, would mean that it had to host everything a Galaxy S phone is supposed to do, on top of having repackaged and rebranded Android features, or having duplicates of certain apps (for example, Google Chrome and Samsung Internet are both preinstalled web browsers on Samsung phones, and has been this way for aeons). It's easy to say that Samsung shouldn't bundle too much bloatware on its phones, but the lack of proprietary features would make it harder for an Android phone brand to stand out from the other.

Perhaps it’s time for the next One UI to prioritise losing some weight? Let us know what apps or features you'd like to see disappear from Samsung's One UI, or Galaxy phones in general.

Read the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review here.

Source: Ars Technica, Android Authority, Twitter

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