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Why Your Phone Comes With Less Storage Than Advertised

A phone’s internal storage is an important figure when it comes to buying a new one. It becomes even more of an issue when your phone’s storage can’t be expanded. Apps, contacts and messages are all things that can be stored on your internal storage. If your phone is getting full on internal storage, you might find that it begins acting up a bit – not letting you access your gallery or browse the internet, for example.
That’s exactly why it’s very important to know how much internal storage you’re getting with a phone. However, you can’t take the value advertised to be the true amount. Take the 16GB Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, for example. You’d be right in assuming that you’d be able to use that 16GB completely as you wish. The problem is that when first turning on the device you’ll discover that you only have 8.8GB of storage. The rest of it has been put aside for things like the operating system, Samsung’s software and bloat ware preinstalled on the device.
HTC says that you get less than what’s advertised because “part of the space is being used to make sure your phone is running at optimal performance levels”. It makes sense, but it’s annoying that you’re not told upfront how much actual storage you’ll get.
The trouble is that it isn’t simply a case of subtracting the operating system from the advertised value. One reason for this is that phones can run different versions of an operating system and this can cause a variance in how much space they take up. Another reason is that a lot of phone manufacturers and network providers will preinstall apps on your phone. A lot of the time you’ll be unable to remove them (or move them to a different storage drive), meaning that they’re needlessly clogging up your internal storage. You’ll find that the only way to remove these apps is to jailbreak your device, a procedure that will void your phone’s warranty.
Consumer watchdog company Which? did a test of various phones that advertised themselves as having 16GB of internal storage. Out of their sample size, they found that the HTC Windows 8X was the best, offering 15GB of space. The Google Nexus 4 followed with 13GB, the Blackberry Z10 with 11GB and the Sony Xperia Z with 10GB. The worst offender was, as discussed earlier, the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Rory Boland, the deputy technology editor and digital producer at Which?, says that the problem is that “manufacturers aren't making people aware of how much space they're really getting when they buy the phone. And it's a bit of a lottery”.
In response, Samsung have said that “the Samsung Galaxy S4 uses part of its internal memory to bring our customers its innovative and unique features. A portion of memory is reserved for future software upgrades, such as potentially new platform updates or premium suite updates. By doing so, we are able to provide added value for Galaxy S4 owners throughout the device’s entire lifespan”.
Advertising the ‘incorrect’ storage value is something that is done across the technology world (like on hard drives, for example), so it’s unlikely to change any time soon. However, it’s worth bearing in mind when shopping for a smartphone that the internal storage capacity advertised doesn’t necessarily mean the amount of space available for your own use.


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