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posted by hubie on Thursday February 09, @05:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the bloatness-knows-no-bounds dept.

Samsung's Android build is 4x bigger than Google's—twice the size of Windows 11:

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?!

[...] 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.

[...] Just on the surface, Samsung's 60GB system partition looks bad compared to the Pixel 7's 15GB, but it's actually worse than those two raw numbers. Samsung isn't even using one of the big, storage-hungry Android features that you would normally get on Pixel 7: A/B system partitions. The Pixel 7 (and most other flagships) can actually have two copies of the operating system, one that is online and being used, and another that is offline and sitting in the background. [...]

Original Submission

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Top Android Phones From China are Packed With Spyware, Research Finds 36 comments

A recent study shows that top-of-the-line Android phones sold in China are a total privacy nightmare:

New research suggests that users of top-of-the-line Android devices sold in China are getting their personal data pilfered left, right and center, according to new research. The collection, which is happening without notification or consent, could easily lead to the persistent tracking of users and the easy unmasking of their identities.

A study published by computer scientists at several different universities reveals that phone makers like Xiamoi, OnePlus, and Oppo Realme, some of the most popular in China, are all collecting massive amounts of sensitive user data via their respective operating systems, as are a variety of apps that come pre-installed on the phones. The data is also getting hoovered up by an assortment of other private actors, and researchers worry that the devices in question "send a worrying amount of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) not only to the device vendor but also to service providers like Baidu and to Chinese mobile network operators." Given private industry's close relationship with the Chinese government, it's more than enough to raise the specter of broader surveillance concerns for mobile users in China.

The PII being collected includes pretty sensitive stuff, including basic user information like phone numbers and persistent device identifiers (IMEI and MAC addresses, advertising IDs, and more), geolocation data (which, obviously, would allow an observer to unmask your physical location), and data related to "social connections"—such as contacts, their phone numbers, and phone and text metadata, the study found. In other words, the recipients of this data would have a pretty clear picture of who is using a particular device, where they are doing it, and who they're talking to. Phone numbers in China are also tied to an individual "citizen ID," meaning that it's inextricably tied to the user's real, legal identity.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by krishnoid on Thursday February 09, @05:15AM (5 children)

    by krishnoid (1156) on Thursday February 09, @05:15AM (#1290840)

    At least if you could stick in a microSD card [] you could argue that you could add more space for your own content. But how can Samsung justify marketing microSD cards when even their own phones couldn't bother to accommodate them?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, @06:40AM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, @06:40AM (#1290847)
      The buyers also pay for that, since with a 60GB OS they are more likely to need a 256GB phone and a new phone if that 256GB fills up (many apps like whatsapp don't seem to be very good with freeing up space and you can't move them to sdcards anyway).
      • (Score: 2) by Username on Thursday February 09, @07:08AM (1 child)

        by Username (4557) on Thursday February 09, @07:08AM (#1290850)

        I pre-order the s23 and they wouldn't let you buy the 128gb version, you can only get the 256 "for the price of the 128"

        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, @08:09AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, @08:09AM (#1290856)

          At this rate they're making the Chinese spyware phones look better...

          My Xiaomi only has 64GB flash. There wouldn't be space for much if the OS+spyware took up 60GB.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, @11:36AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, @11:36AM (#1290860)

        The Android filesystem is bizarre. Android in general is great, except for weird oversights like that.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 10, @01:23AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 10, @01:23AM (#1291016)
          It's not an oversight. Years ago my android phone allowed me to move and run apps on the sdcard no matter what the app wanted. e.g. I had control over that.

          Now Google has made it harder. Supposedly for security reasons?
  • (Score: 2) by looorg on Thursday February 09, @11:54AM (3 children)

    by looorg (578) on Thursday February 09, @11:54AM (#1290863)

    60GB for a phoneOS (/eyeroll). So is it easy, or can it even, be trimmed down and removed or will the phone balk at that and refuse or reinstall it again if you try? Perhaps that is a service for another company or app (there might already be one) that just trims all the fat and fluff from your phone. According to some of the comments to the article it appears the new phone had 100+ apps already pre-installed. Who wants that crap? More then the people that sell the phone.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, @01:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, @01:29PM (#1290867)

      > 60GB for a phoneOS (/eyeroll).

      This ^^^ for sure. I don't think it's a new problem either:

      I don't have a smart phone, my road warrior days predate them and I never saw the need. My SO got a new one a couple of years ago. First she bought another Samsung because her previous one gave good service for half a dozen years. Then she tried to wade through all the pre-installed crapware and after a couple of days got disgusted and took it back to Best Buy. She put the credit toward a slightly more expensive Google Pixel model that came with much less "stuff" installed, and she's been reasonably happy since.

      My guess--the ~10% premium that Google charges is the cheap way to get rid of all the Samsung crap (or, put another way, Samsung can offer a lower price because they are being paid for product placement).

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Thursday February 09, @02:13PM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 09, @02:13PM (#1290882) Homepage Journal

      You might look at UAD - []

      That is a GUI frontend for adb - []

      I've dabbled with them, and I've streamlined a Samsung A10 from Straightalk. I've had greater success with a Motorola G Stylus 5g purchased through Amazon, that was never locked.

      Some things, you can remove. Other things, you can disable. Yet other things, you can't touch. Using other tools, you can delete a lot of nonsense data that the various bloatware apps save to your phone. Your best bet is to avoid any telco locked phone in the first place, so they can't install their own bloatware.

      Better yet, is to root your phone (not possible with all phones, especially telco locked phones) then install the ROM of your choosing. I've not yet done that with any phone, and I'm not yet willing to risk screwing up my recent purchase. Maybe I'll grab another cheap feature phone in the near future to try it on. That A10 apparently can't be rooted, or I would give it another try. Or, more accurately, Straighttalk has locked that A10 in a fashion that no one has managed to hack yet.

      If anyone should take a real interest in hacking their phone, this seems to be the most authoritative site to find information - []

      If you don't have an assault rifle, sell your cloak and buy one. - Jesus
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Monday February 13, @07:55AM

      by takyon (881) <> on Monday February 13, @07:55AM (#1291495) Journal

      It's fake news, Ars Technica fucked it up:

      Update: The original version of this article glossed over the fact that Android's storage screen starts with the advertised storage space, not the actual storage space, and then fudges the "system" numbers to make everything add up. Therefore it's not fair to compare Android to Windows or to compare phones of differing storage sizes. The 60GB number is from a 512GB Galaxy S23 device. Last year the number was around 49GB on a Galaxy S22 512GB phone, so the 512GB version, including all the same inaccurate storage calculations, somehow jumped 10GB year over year.

      We can calculate the real world GB usage, and while all the numbers get smaller, the relative distance between Google and Samsung does not change. A 128GB Pixel actually has only 119GB of actual storage, so it erroneously adds 9GB to the "15GB" system on a 128GB phone, for an actual size of 6GB. A 512GB phone has 477GB of actual storage, so Samsung's 60GB storage size is 25GB on a 512GB phone, where last year it was 15GB. Samsung's 25GB Android package is still bigger than ever and four times the size of Google's 6GB Android install.

      20-30 GB is a lot, but it's negligible for a "512 GB" phone I would most likely never fill anyway. []

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Snotnose on Thursday February 09, @02:08PM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Thursday February 09, @02:08PM (#1290880)

    I used the Android debugger from Android Studio to remove Facebook, Twitter, and some other crapware from my phone. You can google for how to do it.

    Can you do that on this phone?

    Granted, the average user won't be able to do this. But I'm not the average user :)

    The inventor of auto-correct has died. The funnel will be held tomato.
  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday February 09, @05:05PM (2 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 09, @05:05PM (#1290920) Journal

    I liked my Galaxy S5. For a long time. But updates got bigger and bigger. Eventually it did not have enough room to do further updates.

    I had installed a Micro SD card which helped a lot. But eventually those fail, losing their contents. For whatever reason.

    My next phone was a Google Nexus 6P. From there on I've only gotten Google phones. They come with a few basic essential apps installed. Things like a dialer app for the phone, browser, app store, etc. But not preloaded with bloatware. If I want facetwit or whatever antisocial network apps, I know how to get them from the app store.

    I have a lot of apps, but they are all apps that I have chosen to have. Not a bunch of crapware forced upon me, and using up my device's space.

    Worse of all for Samsung: I could not remove that bloatware. I could 'disable' it so it didn't show up. But that did not make it take up any less space.

    I've never looked back.

    If I had π $ for every time I had to write 2π, I'd be irrationally rich.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by DannyB on Thursday February 09, @05:07PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 09, @05:07PM (#1290921) Journal

      One other thing, my Google phone seems to be first in line for the latest updates.

      If I had π $ for every time I had to write 2π, I'd be irrationally rich.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 10, @01:27AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 10, @01:27AM (#1291017)

      I had installed a Micro SD card which helped a lot. But eventually those fail, losing their contents. For whatever reason.

      Eventually everything fails. That's why you have backups of stuff you want to keep.

      So when the sdcard fails just buy another one, copy the backups over and stick it back in, easy.

      What are you going to do when your phone fails? Same thing right?