Nah, it is just pure laziness. It is probably the same reason that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has a 151 GB required download happily waiting for console players with the disc. Back in the day, developers used to do hardcoded optimization to fit whole videos into just half a megabyte. Now that development has been become more abstract and upper-level, software developers have gotten lazy. They refuse to hand check code to optimize it to the point that you have see them making all of the classic rookie mistakes, like redundant data of huge shared libraries and other resource files strewn across gigabytes of data. I wonder if anyone actually did a deduplication check on their package? I must say, Samsung is not getting a lot of good press lately. First the Samsung 990 Pro reliability issue and now this clearly lazy development work. Heads may even roll in the employee roster, but I suspect the leaders who refused to listen to the warning signs will dodge the bullet and pass the buck to the people they should have been listening to all along.
Basically, apparently the reported memory use for “system” includes the difference between the decimal and binary systems, i.e. where 1MB is treated as containing 1000kB instead of 1024. They suggest that this is possibly to avoid people complaining that their “512GB” phone actually only has 472GB of storage space.
Based on my device this seems plausible: I’ve got a Fold 4 with 1TB. The settings report that 95GB are used for “system”. Afaik 1TB is actually somewhere around 931GB, so about 69GB of my “system usage” might actually be due to this reporting decision, while the actual system size might be rather in the order of 26GB. Still a lot, but more plausible.
There has to be multiple things going on here and ARS seems to be oversimplifying/overstating this a bit.
A big part of the “bloat” seems to be the duplicative (IMHO anyway) apps that Samsung loads including the Samsung Browser and Samsung Mail App to name two.
FWIW one of the things I do with a new phone, most recently in my case the s22 Ultra is obviously load on the apps the I actually use as well as remove the ones that I can (some can’t be uninstalled on carrier sold phones, in my case Verizon. so for instance I’m stuck with the 350MB My Verizon app).
So long preamble out of the way, my notes say that the base load of my S22 Ultra when I got it was just over 27GB and the base load on our lab Tab S8 Plus 5g (again Verizon) is 31 GB.
So obviously something major has changed with the release of the S23 series that it’s now near 60GB according to several posts I’ve seen besides ARS.
TLDR Too soon to draw definite conclusions IMHO but it bears further investigation.
Ars also stated “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.” Is that proven? If so, that’s pretty awful.
Yeah I paused over that statement as well. I haven’t seen any what i would consider solid proof of that, just a bunch of conspiracy theories that sound akin to space lasers…
The one definite issue I’ve seen on multiple devices is that you can’t delete the app and on some devices such as lower end Samsung or Motorolas G series phones, you can’t even disable it (though you can on Samsungs S series and Fold series phones)
The OS took up 33GB out of the 64 GB of my Tab S7 FE, that’s way too big for an Android system . And I thought iOS bloating up over time was bad, but it only took up a bit more than half of my 32GB iPad.
I should feel lucky the Tab S7 Fe support SD card, and I use it mainly as a SuperDisplay device.
Not so sure that is just conspiracy, if you think of the overall “Metaverse” they are building, especially in the face of Google’s plans in AI. It feels like we are in an unseen arms race leaving the users with the unenviable task of choosing which “devil” they trust the most among Apple, Facebook/Meta, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and the remaining teeny weenies…
Wonder when Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm are going to get into selling chip space on the SOC? Oh wait, that’s reserved for CHINA…
I do think that Facebook will try to get their hands on any info they can semi-legally get at (the reason why I don’t run desktop WhatsApp…), I just wonder if it’s known what extra permissions they have on Samsung phones, and what they actually do with those.
On iOS I always have the sneaking suspicion that my “end-to-end encrypted” messages are keyword analyzed on-device and their marketable content shared with Facebook that way. Another plausible conspiracy theory.
But being serious for a moment, we often do work for government agencies including Homeland Security and in 2021 we analyzed a ton of Android devices with every tool we could think of or find including the very best network sniffers and couldn’t find evidence of anything that looked even remotely nefarious ;note that I didn’t say intrusive (MS Windows telemetry is still pretty much black box IMHO) ; as that’s a whole different category and it’s meaning depends on your perspective of course.
But then again perhaps if you believe there is a coordinated cabal of the tech companies and various black op government agencies…
And I also tend to agree with our security consultant that’s ex NSA which is that the vast majority of us aren’t worth the effort and the very few that might be , have far more sophisticated tools and methods aimed at them.
PS: we seem to be heading in this thread toward a record of how far off topic that we can go…
I just checked by Fold and ‘system’ is 45GB, which really does seem excessive. Even with all the extra features and apps.
That said, this has been some of the most lazy reporting.
It’s not new, just even bigger than before.
They complain about it being so big, but make no effort to bother to work out what is actually taking up the space.*
Because of not doing 2, they therefore can’t come to a fair judgement.
*And unlike us commenters who don’t need to bother going in to investigate what is happening even if we are interested; they as journalists do have, or at least are supposed to have, an obligation to investigate the facts. Lazy hacks.
I’d say I’d expect better from Ars Technica… but I don’t. I won’t dare say so on their forums though as sometimes they don’t take criticism well.
Judging by the comments section as well as some comments I’ve seen at places like XDA and Android Central I wouldn’t be surprised if ARS either pulls down the post or at least updates/revise it.
The one thing ARS did get right is that Samsungs Android load outs are and have been for awhile, far bigger in size than the rest of the Android OEMs. You can call it bloat or “customization” as their adovocates will claim, but it’s real regardless.
Digital Trends weighs in on this and clarifies a few things such as the kerfuffle of GBs versus GIBs.
OTOH I think it still overall just muddles things more and it’s obvious to me that the only people that know what’s truly going on is Samsung themselves and they aren’t doing much publicly to clarify things.