Beating all expectations, the Android 13 firmware shipped on Galaxy S23 phones can take up almost half of the internal memory available in the base unit. Adding to the fact that Samsung does not allow for storage expansion by installing a microSD card, budget S23 buyers may find that their newly purchased phone cannot be used to its full capacity, leaving insufficient memory for storing vacation photos and videos.
Although Android is a Google-developed platform, the problem also seems to be caused by Samsung, which has allegedly neglected for too long to optimize the firmware delivered on the devices.
Even on cursory analysis, the 60 GB partition allocated by Samsung just for Android installation looks bad compared to the 15 GB partition allocated by Google on Pixel 7 phones. In reality, it’s even worse than it looks, with Samsung omitting one of Google’s innovations designed to reduce Android app installation time at the expense of less efficiently allocated storage space. Specifically, the Pixel 7 uses a two-partition, A/B system setup, hosting two copies of the OS. One is actively used and the second serves as an offline backup. When an OS update is downloaded, Samsung phones equipped with a single copy of the OS must apply it over the main system image, a process that can take up to 30 minutes for major updates. Pixel phones, on the other hand, perform the update process in the background, requiring only a reboot of the device to activate the latest firmware version.
The dual OS system also provides a mechanism that provides redundancy in the event that the active firmware is compromised, either by a failed update or by NAND Flash memory corruption. Thus, if the phone fails to load the operating system, Android simply reverts to the previous version and attempts to restore the failed copy.
Available since Android 7.0, the A/B partitioning system is not supported even on newer Samsung phones, a decision that can only be explained by the far too large baggage of pre-installed apps. Apparently, the solution found by Samsung to address this shortcoming is to drop the 128GB memory provision for all Galaxy S23 versions except the base model. The bad news is that the 256GB versions are no cheaper than the 128GB equipment of the Galaxy S22 generation, while offering less actual storage space, relative to the capacity listed on the label. Worse still is that users who would previously have been happy with 128GB of memory may find the remaining storage space to be wholly insufficient.