back to article Apple's 16GB iPhones are a big fat lie, claims iOS 8 storage hog lawsuit

Apple is being sued by fans upset about how much storage space iOS takes up on their iPhones, iPads and iPods. A class-action lawsuit (PDF), filed in California by Paul Orshan and Christopher Endara, alleged the OS uses so much flash memory that the advertised device capacity is misleading. The sueball was lobbed at Cupertino …

That's only partially helpful. Yes, you get lots of storage for music files and photos. No, you don't get any more room for apps on most (not all) handsets as they are forced to store in main memory. My kids are constantly having to delete apps to make room for some new game or other, and moan mightily about being unable to remove bloatware that they never wanted or use.

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Would that include the proprietary connector that allows you to connect ..... a 32Gb SD card?

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Re: This..

No. Both my kids' phones have trashed their SD cards and they were reputable branded cards from a reputable source. SAMSUNG galaxy fame. SAMSUNG is to blame for this.

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Anonymous Coward >>"Funny you mention that, because Windows Phone does (or at least did) merge its main memory with the SD card memory."

Nope - Windows Phone has never done that. External storage is selectable, not merged.<<

That is exposing the memory hierarchy - which is an implementation detail - to the user. You probably don't understand what Apple has done (or is doing) or will argue against it as an old techie. Apple stores you data safely where ever. The user does not have to think about where or more importantly, how. Users no longer think in terms of lower-level abstractions such as files to store entities.

On iOS, there is no 'save' - whatever you are working on is automatically saved to SSD. Save is being deemphasized on OS X.

Programmers also should not think about memory hierarchy - they should not think about moving data from main memory to registers or where data gets allocated. That is a real backward move in Dalvik (Android's OS), where Google has exposed registers in the memory hierarchy.

Apple is going in the right direction here.

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Re: Well...

@AC

"I can fill the SD card to the brim with MP3 files no problem. How do I get my friend's pre-Kit Kat Google music app to play them? Oh, you can't? I guess you might not be as helpful as you thought."

Took the micro SD from a broken MP3 player, inserted into my old Orange San Francisco, 4 years-old and running Android 2.2, turned it on, opened Play Music, and the songs and audio books appeared instantly. Music on the root of card, books each in their own folders. Absolutely no problem at all.

Not sure how it could be any easier.

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FAIL

Re: Well...

On my pre kitkat S3 mini just loading the music on the card is enough for the music app to pick it up...

But just for shits and giggles I've just installed the google music app. All of my music is on the SD card, copied there using a card reader not the phone. Open Google music app. Press the little three line menu button. Press "MyLibrary" button. All my music available.

Wow. Very difficult.

Oh, guess I might be helpful after all, but my previous assertion was wrong. It's not just hardware you shouldn't touching.

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Who cares?

1) Apple sells a lot of phones and therefore attracts more attention.

2) Apple is an American company and has more buyers; and more litigious buyers.

3) Apple attracts computer-illiterate buyers who wouldn't know a byte if it bit them on the ankle.

4) Apple doesn't give a stuff about what you think. Just gimme the money...

I go for 4, myself. Maybe 3...

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Linux

Re: Who cares?

Californians. That's who. They have some pretty demanding consumer protection laws.

it's odd that those people sitting in northern California never considered this problem. Perhaps the droning of the fanboys drowned out anyone who could have suggested that Apple was making a mistake.

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I have a 32 GB iPhone. Strangely enough, it actually has 32 GB of storage--exactly as advertised. The OS does use some of the space, but I'd rather have the phone with an OS rather than without.

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Anonymous Coward

No, what it SHOULD be is that you have 32GB (ALL 32GB) available to you and the OS resides in its own dedicated space or whatever. Yes, I consider the PC analogue to be deceptive also. At least with a hard drive, you don't expect 20% of the space to be stuffed with programs, and I hate shared-memory graphics chips.

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Strangely enough, I have an Android tablet (Polaroid PTAB-800) that does it exactly the way you describe it. EXCEPT that it doesn't, as the OS and all installed apps need to fit into the dedicated space. If your apps use any extra space for app-specific data, it's stored in the OS section, not in the user section, which is brilliant unless you want to have more than two large apps installed at once. On the other hand, I still have a full 8gb of space, and can add an SD card for more storage, but can not get more app space. If you root the PTAB-800 you can *technically* run apps from the SD, but it tends to glitch badly more often than not, which cost me several months of progress in Valkyrie Crusade.

It's a first-world problem, and one of the reasons I will never buy a cut-price tablet ever again, but it also points to why Apple did what they did. I'd love to see the plaintiff's reactions when they realize that they can only have a handful of apps installed in their "separate OS partition", but they still have 16 (or 8, or 32) GB left for porn and MP3s.

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The counter would be, "You're doing it wrong."

Apps installed by the user SHOULD go into the user space, NOT the OS space (which should be reserved for system apps and their updates).

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The Anonymous Coward writes: >>No, what it SHOULD be is that you have 32GB (ALL 32GB) available to you and the OS resides in its own dedicated space or whatever. Yes, I consider the PC analogue to be deceptive also. At least with a hard drive, you don't expect 20% of the space to be stuffed with programs, and I hate shared-memory graphics chips.<<

That is much too confusing to users. Which version of OS do you have - they all take different amounts of memory. With 16GB OS takes up proportionately more that 32GB and that more than 64 or 128GB.

This really is still a non story.

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Anonymous Coward

Untouchable

Will get thrown out. Apple have shown they are untouchable in courts in the us. It's as if everyone has free stuff they should be declaring

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Re: Untouchable

I would hope that if Microsoft was sued for Surface or Google was sued for Nexus it would be thrown out just the same. It has nothing to do with Apple being "untouchable", it has to do with this being a mind numbingly stupid lawsuit.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Untouchable

What about if Samsung were sued .... surely they'd lose since they'd clearly just copied Apple

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Re: Untouchable

You're inventing false claims from thin air.

In the US courts Apple has: been found guilty under antitrust law of ebook price fixing; lost the attempt to establish that Amazon can't call its an 'App Store'; lost an attempt to compel various rumours sites to reveal their sources; been successfully forced by Creative Labs to pay royalties for use of hierarchical menus in iPods; failed to win a patent case againt HTC; failed to win a patent case against Kodak; failed to win a patent case against Motorola.

Apple has ended up settling rather than going to court in the US: with resellers who argued that Apple were illegally driving them out of business; an antitrust case about cold calling employees of competing companies; a class action over the reliability of early MagSafe power adaptors; a class action about price switching, where gift cards couldn't buy the number of songs indicated due to a price change; the trademark case with Cisco about use of the iPhone mark; a class action over iPod battery life.

So Apple has been successfully prosecuted by the US government. It has lost cases started against it by other companies. It has lost cases it started against other companies, it has had to pay out for cases started against it by groups of consumers.

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truth in storage

Apple's iPhone 6 Tech Specs page:

https://www.apple.com/iphone-6/specs/

Apple advertises 16GB, 64GB and 128GB capacity. Arguably, capacity is different from available capacity. No mention of "The operating system takes up about 3GB out of the advertised capacity" on that page.

Misleading? Definitely. I do not expect a non-techie consumer to anticipate these kinds of storage capacity semantics shenanigans. Neither should Apple. And it shouldn't be that difficult for Apple to add that disclaimer to their Tech Specs page.

Don't know if it will hold up in a US court, though.

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Re: ST Re: truth in storage

"......And it shouldn't be that difficult for Apple to add that disclaimer to their Tech Specs page......". Previously, when writing RFP responses, I have been instructed to calculate the exact amount of memory and diskspace space available in a system after the OS, apps and patches will have been loaded and the system has the apps running at idle, then put those figures into the response, eg "the system will have 16GB of RAM of which 14.3GB will be available for application use at system idle with the application stack listed in Appendix C". We had to do so for legal reasons as our customers could sue if we delivered the kit and it actually only had 13GB at idle. That was several years ago, so if we were worrying about that then it would suggest Apple do have something to worry about today.

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Re: ST truth in storage

true, apple also place themselves as easy to use so hiding information isn't in the perception of their products. Afterall you should expect anyone to be able to use an apple device easily, not have to figure out why 16gb isn't 16gb afterall.

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PJI

Re: truth in storage

Ignorance, naivety or just blind prejudice and mendacity seem to be the rule in this comments section.

I suspect even most non-technical buyers must be aware that the essential computer software (e.g. operating system, file system, management software, application libraries) take up space. I seem to recall Apple even brings this to people's attention, such as when giving advice about the IOS 8 update.

What is all this nonsense about Android (some) hardware being OK because one can insert external storage? So a Samsung ad. claiming 32 GB of storage is all right, even though it does not warn of the available storage, because you can spend more money on a SD card (but be sure to buy a top quality one)? If you buy a mini when you want a six seater car, is that all right because you can attach a trailer? Or perhaps you buy a four seater car and imagine that it will carry four passengers and not know it needs a driver.

Ever bought, say, a 256 GB SSD drive and noted that, with NOTHING of yours on it, the available space is several GB less (with the Samsung drive I have got, it is 249.2 GB) than the quoted 256 GB? Perhaps I should pretend ignorance and make a claim against Samsung.

So, how would you quote capacity? A table of numbers against each past, present and possible future OS and and app sizes?

I note that Samsung also quotes just "storage" size, e.g. 16 and 32 GB for the Galaxy, no mention of size available to the user.

Are these complainants saying that they were silly enough to buy a mobile telephone without finding out, e.g. from the seller, a little, basic detail such as what that capacity means? If they are sufficiently aware to understand how many hours of music or films or whatever the capacity represents, then I suspect that they also knew that the device needs system and application space. On what basis did they decide to get 16GB rather than 32 or 64? Just price or did they ask the salesman (or search the internet) for some practical advice and details?

No, this is just another set of litigious Americans thinking they've found a short cut to some easy money from a very rich, very successful firm.

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Re: truth in storage

> Ignorance, naivety or just blind prejudice and mendacity seem to be the rule in this comments section.

Had you not started your rant with such an idiotic and unnecessarily snide comment, I might have read past the first paragraph.

I am a techie. Guess what: it is not obvious to me at all that the iPhone has only one physical storage device available, and that its Operating System is installed on the same physical storage device as the one dedicated to general-purpose storage. The Tech Specs do not mention any details about the physical storage device layout, nor do they mention anything about how many I/O channels are available on the iPhone's motherboard. And assuming that a mobile phone has only one physical storage device available is just as dumb and ignorant as assuming that a laptop or a PC has only one hard drive available, or that a laptop or PC motherboard has only one I/O channel available.

The iPhone's Operating System could have been installed on a physically different and separate storage device that is not part of the advertised available storage capacity.

There would have been valid technical reasons for doing so. This separate flash storage device used for the OS could be a different Class than the one available to the user for storing music or videos. OS updates happen less frequently than the user writes or erases photos or videos, so, storing the OS on a physically separate device reduces the overall probability of single-point-of-failure of the phone.

So, quit playing storage know-it-all on the Internet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: truth in storage

Ah, but you did not read past the first paragraph so I wonder how you came to your opinion.

You may describe yourself as a "techie"; but it seems you are not an inquisitive one and are not used to reading the sort of technical specifications published with these sorts of devices by most manufacturers or suppliers. You could have found out a lot more about IOS and the hardware on the many web sites discussing it. Apple make no claim that the OS is on separate storage; other comments have covered that too. Details such as IO channel numbers are irrelevant to this discussion and, indeed, to 99.99% of users and, I suspect, to you other than to boost your own claim to credentials.

There was no "playing storage know-it-all…". You are playing at being a hardware expert for mobile devices and at being an OS design architect - on the internet. Feel free. But, as you said, you did not read past the first paragraph, so your remark has got no basis.

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Re: truth in storage

> Ah, but you did not read past the first paragraph so I wonder how you came to your opinion.

I assume you mean "how I reached my conclusion". Answer:

By reading the idiotic first paragraph in your original rant.

Grammar lesson: one does not "come to an opinion". One comes to a conclusion, or one holds, or has, an opinion.

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Re: truth in storage

Actually, I think this all stems from old dumb phones. When we had an Ericsson with 4Mb of memory, that was what it had, and all the OS was in flash. Therefore people understandably expect the same behaviour today.

I suspect also when you had the old iPods the situation was the same, and if the OS did take up space on the disk it was 100Mb or so...

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Re: truth in storage

@ ST

>I am a techie. Guess what: it is not obvious to me at all that the iPhone has only one physical storage device available, and that its Operating System is installed on the same physical storage device as the one dedicated to general-purpose storage.

You are NOT a techie, cut the crap! All current generation smartphones use this storage strategy. I heard Nokia smartphones were different back in the day ... Note that I did not/will not comment or vote on the guy you are answering to ...

>The Tech Specs do not mention any details about the physical storage device layout, nor do they mention anything about how many I/O channels are available on the iPhone's motherboard. And assuming that a mobile phone has only one physical storage device available is just as dumb and ignorant as assuming that a laptop or a PC has only one hard drive available, or that a laptop or PC motherboard has only one I/O channel available.

Do the tech specs mention expansion slots of any sort ? Yes. Do they mention a built-in sd card port ? no ... ouch, sorry. Now, why do you need to know how many I/O channels a device has ? You know, it can have 1000, if they are not hooked up to a connector, you will not be able to connect anything to them - unless you bolt something onto the hardware.

Now, an iOS device can read an sd card!! You can get an sd card adapter that plugs into the magic connector (dunno the name of that thingy on JesusPhones, too lazy to look it up). You can get an sd card adapter that converts a micro sd card into a plain sd card as well ... no, you cannot launch any apps from it, just like unhacked android phone. Not sure you can write to it ... I guess you can.

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Re: truth in storage

There was a class action suit against Western Digital for exactly this reason - "The class-action lawsuit against Western Digital Corporation involves the way the company reports hard drive capacity. For example, an 80GB model reported by the hard drive manufacturer will only hold 74.4GB of data, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. This is a known fact throughout the storage community and is no news to those of us who have ever bought or used a hard drive." They settled. ref:http://www.dailytech.com/Western+Digital+Settles+Drive+Capacity+ClassAction+Lawsuit/article3072.htm

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Re: truth in storage

"you cannot launch any apps from it (sd card), just like unhacked android phone"

Not sure where you get that from. I've used unhacked Android for some years, and have always moved those apps which can be moved (not all can, admittedly) to uSD with no problem. In fact, my old Note looked positively sparse with the card removed, as most apps were unavailable.

I always used App2sd as part of the 10+ toolbox app to do this, but the option to move individual apps to sd has always been there in the standard Google toolbox. Generally I look for apps which do what I want and CAN be moved. Heck, I even had seperate cards with different apps on them in my old Dell Streak days (yes I know, dumb, but it worked).

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Angel

Re: truth in storage

The prefix gibi (symbol Gi) represents multiplication by 1024^3, therefore:

1 gibibyte = 2^30 bytes = 1073741824 bytes

The gibibyte is closely related to the gigabyte (GB), which is defined as 10^9 bytes = 1000000000 bytes, but has been used as a synonym for gibibyte in some contexts. 1GiB ≈ 1.074GB.

Historically, the prefixes kibi, mebi and gibi were officially made standards by the International Electrotechnical Commission in 1998 to distinguish binary multiples from their decimal multiple counterparts.

To add to the confusion, the prefixes kilo, mega and giga can be used interchangeably for BOTH binary and decimal multiples giving each prefix two distinct and incompatible byte capacities.

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Unspeakably dumb

I'm not a fan of iStuff, but this is stupid. It will go nowhere.

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At least Microsoft Australia advertises actual user available capacity on their surface tablets.

Storage:

64GB has >36GB available disk space

128GB has >96GB available disk space

256GB has >211GB available disk space

512GB has >450GB available disk space

Wonder if it's because of a lawsuit?

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I suspect it's more to do with Australia's advertising laws which place a little more emphasis on telling "the whole truth". Australia can smack down and fine a firm whose ads cross the line into "deceptive".

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If I recall correctly, Microsoft did run into trouble over exactly this with respect to their Surface tablets. I can't recall though if it resulted in a lawsuit. It was headline news for a while. The fact that most people can't recall it probably has something to do with the fact that most people can't recall that the MS Surface tablet even exists.

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It is also because in one of those cases that is over 50% of the advertised space. A reasonable consumer expects a degree of space used by OS paraphernalia but not in that magnitude. They also expect that a 32GB device from manufacturer A holds roughly the same amount of their stuff as a 32GB device from manufacturer B.

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Nothing new here

The phone has 16GB of storage. You need an operating system and that takes up some of that space and this has been true even back to 8 bit computers like the Commodore 64 which didn't have 64K of space for programs but rather just 39K (although if you didn't need BASIC you could use more.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nothing new here

You know that. I know that. Millions of people don't. The people here who are calling other people dumb may not know the real loading capacity of their washing machines, whether or not their domestic boiler capacity is throttled by the area of their radiators, or (and this is very common) the true cost of their car ownership.

We tend to think what we know about is obvious. A bit of truth in advertising might not come amiss, though.

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Dumb

some people are dumb

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Re: Dumb

Hmm? Would you be more specific.

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Re: Would you be more specific.

Would you be more grammatical.

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Re: Would you be more specific.

No

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What? No lawsuit about RAM?

I think they should sue everybody because operating systems also tend to take a bit of the advertised RAM...

Ridiculous as the lawsuit is, I noticed that, e.g., Samsung have a footnote to the specs on their website (UK, at least): "User memory is less than the total memory due to storage of the operating system and software used to operate the phones features. Actual user memory will vary depending on the mobile phone operator and may change after software upgrades are performed." Seems fair.

The Apple iPhone6 spec (https://www.apple.com/iphone-6/specs) does not have a similar footnote, but it does have another curious one: "1GB = 1 billion bytes; actual formatted capacity less." I am not sure what it means, except that maybe they don't operate in powers of 2 (and thus 16GB is a bit less than what I would expect) and they don't use the full 16GB storage (not sure if "formatted capacity less" only means some filesystem overhead).

With all the hype that iStuff is somehow "magical and revolutionary" I am not surprised that some non-technical users may have expectations...

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Boffin

"actual formatted capacity less."

The 16GB refers to the raw storage capacity, i.e. for flash memory the number of binary bit-states the flash cells can hold. When you format the storage to be able to hold a file system (FAT, NTFS, ext3, XFS.. etc) that will take an amount of the raw storage as well.

And then the above mentioned Operating system will take an additional chuck of that storage again.

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Re: What? No lawsuit about RAM?

>>but it does have another curious one: "1GB = 1 billion bytes; actual formatted capacity less." I am not sure what it means<<

Not curious. When you format a (disk) device, the formatting software is likely to find bad areas on the magnetic medium and to remove them from the allocation list. This reduces the actual capacity of the device. It's not any software overhead, just imperfect manufacture, and the integrity of your data is more important than device capacity.

The basis of this is that programs and data live in an idealized software environment - that environment is provided by the system software since hardware can be faulty. The OS will even avoid bad areas of RAM if it finds them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What? No lawsuit about RAM?

It doesn't work like that. Sectors are reallocated at a low level, which is transparent to the operating system. If your OS sees bad sectors in a modern disk drive, then you're really in trouble and your drive is about to die.

The disk drives themselves have a pool above the capacity to reallocate sectors.

You actually get less because the file system itself takes up space for metadata. This varies depending on the file system: FAT disks allocate sectors for directory records. Other file systems have inodes or journals etc. etc. These take up space.

Of course, if you use a compressed file system you can find you have more allocated capacity than the device's raw capacity.

The other difference relates to the "1GB = 1 billion bytes" assertion. It does: G is an SI prefix meaning a billion (using the now-common short scale) so this assertion is absolutely true and has led to the adoption of the GiB notation. Operating systems inevitably use the latter, so the amount seen by the OS appears to be far less, especially as 1 TiB is way less than 1 TB. It wasn't a big deal when hard drives were sold in MB.

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Re: What? No lawsuit about RAM?

Its because apple uses base 10 to calculate disk space (as does pretty much every other hard drive vendor). Interestingly most operating systems still used a base 2 to display - which leads to confusing results as the user sees much lower storage than was previously advertised.

Really interesting is that for a while apple OSX display in base 10 too, which means a 250GB hard drive reports as 250GB even though it is actually a little less (something like 240GB or so I think).

The formatted capacity may also be taking into account EFI Partition, Restore Partition, Wear-leveling blocks, Write-buffer area and a whole bunch of other stuff I have no idea the meaning of.

Source: http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201402

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So how is this any different to PC makers selling you a machine with a drive that is partitioned down from its stated size to accommodate the cab files to reinstall the OS?

Oh of course its bad because its Apple, cue much gnashing of teeth....

This is getting so old.

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Linux

Call it a basic math problem.

> So how is this any different to PC makers selling you a machine with a drive that is partitioned down from its stated size to accommodate the cab files to reinstall the OS?

One of those does not take up a double digit portion of the available storage. The other one does.

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Probably because you can reallocate that partition back if you were inclined to do so (just pray that you never need to reformat)

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CRT screen sizes and viewing area

Who else remembers back when CRT's ruled the world and you got a big 21 inch TV only to discover the viewing area was actually 20 inches?

Advertisers were forced to disclose the actual viewing area so they got away with this by selling you a TV with the tube size described in inches in big bold letters whilst disclosing the actual viewing area in cm, which because of the numerical relationship between inch & cm it appeared to be a big number, when in reality when converted to inches was smaller than the tube size.

I think this page is a bit outdated now: http://www.metric.org.uk/screen-sizes

They're all despicable because they'll try any tactic available to make you think you're getting something better than what you actually get, for example I bought some rechargable AA's recently that are called the 2400 series, ther're really good and I am pleased with them but the actual capacity is 2300mAh.

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Devil

Re: CRT screen sizes and viewing area

That's the art of sales — sell 'em the sizzle, not the steak.

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