One UI 5.1 bloatware is not consuming 60 GB storage on new Samsung Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Plus or Galaxy S23 Ultra
Earlier this week, several outlets reported that the Galaxy S23 series consumed 60 GB of internal storage on One UI 5.1 alone. Drawing parallels with the installation sizes of Android 13 on the Pixel 7 series and Windows 11, these outlets attributed the apparent 60 GB consumption on the Galaxy S23 series to bloatware. For reference, the Pixel 7 series' system partition is 15 GB, a quarter of the Galaxy S23 series.
Apparently, the amount of pre-installed apps is to blame, with Samsung replicating all core Google system apps. Samsung is alleged to sell access to One UI's system partition. Typically, Android OEMs prevent users from uninstalling system apps. However, it is possible to uninstall most third-party pre-installed apps like Facebook and Netflix. Some outlets even reasoned that One UI's high storage usage could be why Samsung has not adopted A/B system partitions, which stores two OS copies for seamless updates. Please see our article discussing A/B seamless system updates for more information.
If these accusations were true, then Galaxy S models with 128 GB of storage would offer just over 50% capacity for user data and apps. Checking on a 128 GB version of the Galaxy S22 Ultra reveals that this is not the case. As the screenshot below shows, the device reserves 26.09 GB for 'System'. Conversely, a 512 GB version of the Galaxy S23 Ultra uses 55.23 GB for 'system'. While SamMobile acknowledges that One UI returns higher drive usage on larger capacity models, it reasons that is because of 'country-specific data'.
As @Golden_Reviewer discusses on Twitter, One UI reports storage conversion losses associated with representing 1,024 bytes per KB as 1,000 bytes per KB. For example, a device advertised with 512 GB of storage actually has closer to 476 GB (GiB) of usable space. Likewise, a 128 GB model has approximately 119 GB of storage, with 256 GB yielding 238 GB of space. Thus a Galaxy S23 Ultra with 512 GB of storage reports more than double 'system' usage than its predecessor with just 128 GB of storage.
Samsung has not explained why it has chosen the route of labelling these conversion losses under 'system'. Theoretically, this method avoids confusion about missing storage space, with 69 GB absent on 1 TB versions. Evidently, that has caught out even experienced technology journalists and reporters, with Ars Technica now admitting to its error. The website adds that even excluding these rounding errors, One UI 5.1 has a 10 GB larger system partition than One UI 4 or One UI 5.0. Again, this is not the case. Based on our brief look at One UI 5.0 on a Galaxy S22 Ultra and One UI 5.1 on a Galaxy S23 Ultra, the latter uses less than 2 GB more for its system partition than the former.