Samsung's Galaxy S6 and Edge smartphones, which arrive in stores Friday, have received mostly positive reviews from critics, largely for superior styling and their metal and glass construction.
Still, there has been criticism about the bloatware pre-installed on the devices. At one point, before review units were widely distributed, reports based on XDA Developers Forum posts indicated many pre-installed apps could be removed.
The question then arose as to whether "removed" meant Samsung would allow the apps to be completely uninstalled so that they weren't taking up storage space or other phone resources.
On Monday, a Samsung spokeswoman clarified in an email to Computerworld that Samsung's pre-installed apps can be disabled on both the S6 and the Edge but cannot be uninstalled. She clarified that "disabled" did not mean the apps can be uninstalled or otherwise totally removed, but can only be "hidden from view."
Earlier, Samsung had given Gizmodo a different statement that said, "some apps can be uninstalled while some can be disabled" on both devices. Samsung didn't explain why it modified its later description for Computerworld.
Even though Samsung's own pre-installed apps cannot be uninstalled, at least one U.S. carrier, Sprint, will allow a dozen apps pre-installed on phones sold by Sprint to be uninstalled, according to a spokesman and confirmed in an informal independent test by Computerworld on a Sprint version of the Edge. Those apps that can be uninstalled include Sprint Music Plus, Sprint TV & Movies and Sprint-Featured Apps, the spokesman said.
On the Edge phone supplied by Sprint, a Computerworld reporter was easily able to uninstall the Sprint TV & Movies app by going to the application manager in settings and clicking "uninstall." The overall size of that app was listed at 50.43 MB, and after clicking uninstall, the smartphone's overall "used space" (separate from the 6.75 GB for system memory) in the 32 GB smartphone was reduced from 2.53 GB to 2.49 GB, a reduction of 40 MB, not the full 50.43 MB listed for the app. (Why that's possible: There were likely stored photos related to the app that didn't get removed during the uninstall. Or, it's possible the size of the app was smaller than listed or the "used space" counter in the smartphone was off. There are other possible explanations for the variation.)
Uninstall also worked for a smaller Sprint pre-installed Nascar Mobile app that was just 24 KB in size.
Other major U.S. carriers were asked to describe whether their own pre-installed apps could be uninstalled entirely from the two smartphones, but didn't immediately respond.
A review by JR Raphael in Computerworld based on a T-Mobile version of the Galaxy S6 noted that third-party bloatware was "not easily removed," but can be disabled "so you don't have to see them, but they'll still take up space on your device." Raphael also blogged that it is standard for most Android manufacturers to allow apps to be disabled, but not easily removed entirely.
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