As a smartphone operating system, Android strives to be a lightweight OS so it can run on a variety of hardware. The first version of the OS had to squeeze into the T-Mobile G1, with only a measly 256MB of internal storage for Android and all your apps, and ever since then, the idea has been to use as few resources as possible. Unless you have the latest Samsung phone, where Android somehow takes up an incredible 60GB of storage.
Yes, the Galaxy S23 is slowly trickling out to the masses, and, as Esper’s senior technical editor Mishaal Rahman highlights in a storage space survey, Samsung’s new phone is way out of line with most of the ecosystem. Several users report the phone uses around 60GB for the system partition right out of the box. 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 take a few guesses as to why things are so big. First, Samsung is notorious for having a shoddy software division that pumps out low-quality code. The company tends to change everything in Android just for change’s sake, and it’s hard to imagine those changes are very good. Second, Samsung may want to give the appearance of having its own non-Google ecosystem, and to do that, it clones every Google app that comes with its devices. Samsung is contractually obligated to include the Google apps, so you get both the Google and Samsung versions. That means two app stores, two browsers, two voice assistants, two text messaging apps, two keyboard apps, and on and on. These all get added to the system partition and often aren’t removable.
Unlike the clean OSes you’d get from Google or Apple, Samsung sells space in its devices to the highest bidder via pre-installed crapware. A company like Facebook will buy a spot on Samsung’s system partition, where it can get more intrusive system permissions that aren’t granted to app store apps, letting it more effectively spy on users. You’ll also usually find Netflix, Microsoft Office, Spotify, Linkedin, and who knows what else. Another round of crapware will also be included if you buy a phone from a carrier, i.e., all the Verizon apps and whatever space they want to sell to third parties. The average amount users are reporting is 60GB, but crapware deals change across carriers and countries, so it will be different for everyone.