The Samsung Galaxy S4 is sure to be one of the hottest selling smartphones of the season. And it’s great news for consumers that it’s available on all four major wireless operators. But unfortunately, every operator isn’t selling all versions of the phone.
So far none of the U.S. carriers has indicated that it will support the 64GB version of the Galaxy S4. And right now the only major U.S. carrier I know of that is offering the 32GB version is AT&T. The company is charging $250 for the 32GB version of the phone with a two year contract, which is $50 more than the 16GB version.
Again this doesn’t mean U.S. carriers won’t eventually offer bigger storage versions of the Galaxy S4. Some people have suggested this is a result of a supply issue with Samsung. But as I said above, I wouldn’t put off getting a new phone in the hope that carriers will offer bigger versions sometime soon.
Still, Verizon and other carriers have emphasized that all versions of the Galaxy S4 come with a microSD card slot so that additional memory can be added. The device can accommodate memory cards up to 64GB. The devices can also connect to Google Cloud storage.
If you’re in a bind, you can store some of your digital media in the cloud and stream it or access it when you like, but remember that you must have a data connection to do so. And if you’re on one of Verizon’s new data plans, you’re restricted each month as to how much data you can use before you’re charged extra. (Remember that if you had an unlimited-data plan from Verizon and you buy your new phone with a device subsidy, you forfeit that unlimited-data plan.) In order to make sure you don’t exceed your monthly data cap, you may have to restrict your music and movie streaming to Wi-Fi.
There is one other thing you need to keep in mind if you’re concerned about storage on the Galaxy S4. This device is packed full of some very cool features. But you have to remember that there’s a trade-off when you add more features to the operating system: those software features must be stored somewhere.
Unfortunately, for Galaxy S4 customers that means they’ll have even less internal storage than they thought. Of course, there’s always a discrepancy between the advertised internal storage capability of a device and what’s actually really available to users. But the Galaxy S4 has even more features than other Android devices like the Nexus 4 or even previous versions of the Galaxy product line. And as a result, there’s a greater discrepancy between how much storage Samsung advertises is available on the device and how much can actually be used by consumers. In fact, some experts say that all of the Galaxy S4’s bells and whistles use up almost twice as much storage as previous versions of the smartphone.
How much storage will you get with the 16GB version of the Galaxy S4? Once you account for the factory software, which includes the Android Jelly Bean operating system, the system cache, and so on, you’re left with about half the internal storage you started with. So that means there’s only about 8GB of storage on the device for your own movies, music, apps, and games
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is still a great device. And depending on what apps you’re downloading onto your phone, the 16GB version with an external SD card may be enough storage for your needs. But if it’s not, you’ll have to be careful about the apps and media you store on your phone. You may be forced to rely on cloud services more than perhaps you have with other smartphones. In order to prevent a storage shortage, you can proactively make sure you’re storing as much of your music, videos, photos, and movies on your SD card as you can to free up space on your device for these other bits of digital content that can’t be stored externally.
But you may also want to consider either switching carriers to get a Galaxy S4 with more storage capacity, or perhaps purchasing a different device on Verizon’s network. As I mentioned before, AT&T offers the 32GB version of the Galaxy S4 right now. And the iPhone 5, which is available on Verizon, comes in 32GB and 64GB models without any SD card to expand the storage. There’s also a rumor that the new HTC One, which also comes in 32GB or 64GB storage versions, may soon land at Verizon. Like the iPhone, the HTC One does not have a microSD slot. Verizon doesn’t currently offer this phone, but there’s some speculation the company might announce it as part of its lineup in the coming weeks.