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Android using all 8GB available, is there a smaller version?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by MMFFCC, Jun 24, 2020.


    MMFFCC Lurker
    Thread Starter

    My son's cellphone has only 8GB, it is a LG K4 (2017)

    Android uses almost all of its space

    Is there an Android version I could install on it that would work fine, install Whatsapp, Instagram, etc and not use all of its space?

    Thank you!

    sundown to get likes this.
  2. Dannydet

    Dannydet Extreme Android User

    No and your best option is to buy a new phone with a lot more storage
    Davdi, MrJavi and mikedt like this.
  3. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    The operating system has to be built for the particular phone model, so you can't just go out and install another version unless that has also been built for that particular phone.

    In fact your storage is partitioned, and if you were to install a smaller android build ("ROM" as they are usually called) in the /system partition it would not make that partition smaller, just leave empty space in it which you couldn't access. The amount of storage left for the user (the /data partition) would remain the same.

    My guess is that with an 8GB phone (which I would have regarded as below the minimum usable specification in 2013) you have maybe 4GB accessible to the user before you install anything (which is why I would have considered 8GB too small to be any use a long time ago, and I am disgusted with companies that sold such devices to unsuspecting users in 2017). So to create space you need to remove some of the stuff that is using that space:

    * media (photos, music, etc): put a microSD card in the phone if you haven't already and store the media on there. That's what SD cards are for, don't waste internal storage on that stuff if you are short of space. And while you are at it, any important photos should be backed up on a computer/to the cloud/somewhere that isn't on the phone: we get endless requests for help from people who don't think about this until something happens and it's too late.

    * Apps that you install use internal storage, as to updates to pre-installed apps (the copy that came with the phone lives in the ROM, so not in the user's space). For user-installed apps you may have the option to move some of them to SD. This really only moves part of the app, but will save some space. Go into Settings > Apps, choose an app that you installed and see whether there is a move to SD option (if it's greyed-out that means the phone supports this but that particular app doesn't let you, in which case others might). You can't move pre-installed apps. Otherwise, are there apps you don't use? Clear their data and uninstall them. You can't uninstall pre-installed apps, but you can uninstall updates to them and in most cases you can "disable" them (which stops further updates and stops them running and using space).

    * As a temporary fix you can clear apps' "caches". Some apps cache a lot of temporary files. In principle it's supposed to save the app reloading stuff, but in some cases (browsers and social media apps in particular) it can run to hundreds of MB. Clearing this frees space without deleting anything of importance, but if you use the app it will start filling its cache again.

    But doing all of that will still leave you with a very limited phone. To be honest Danny's suggestion of just buying a better phone is the real solution, but if your objective is simply to fit those 2 apps the measures above might be sufficient. However it's likely that storage will be an ongoing frustration with this device, and that's entirely because LG made the decision to sell a cheap device with what they knew would be inadequate storage for all but the very lightest users.
    Dannydet and mikedt like this.
  4. Besides the 8GB of ROM it only has 1GB of RAM which is another issue that is not fixable and will slow it down especially when running memory-hungry apps. You really do need to get him a newer phone with more memory.
    If cost is an issue and you're in the US take a look at swappa.com as you can find good-condition used devices there for much less than new prices.
    #4 Fox Mulder, Jun 24, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
    MrJavi, Madasa, Davdi and 2 others like this.
  5. Davdi

    Davdi Android Expert

    At a minimum, you'd want 3GB RAM and 32GB Storage runnng Android 9, or preferably, 10.
    Madasa likes this.
  6. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    As all the previous comments have indicated, that phone with only 8 GB of internal storage isn't a practical, usable amount. Perhaps you're thinking about Android Go, a version of Android that was intentionally created only for low-resource, limited capacity phones:
    Unfortunately it's a matter where Android Go, or even any really dated of Android isn't going to be obtainable for that model of phone. There are no generic, universal versions of Android that any consumer can just download and install themselves. There are third-party custom versions of Android but those are unique to each model and very version dependent. Essentially, for most of us whatever version of Android is running on our devices is determined by the manufacturers and carriers. Plus, there's the issue if you, hypothetically, were able to readily just downgrade that phone to a really old version of Android there's the issue of those apps you listed. New versions of a lot of apps may or may not even be usable with out-of-date versions of Android, and conversely old versions of apps may or may not function properly with the online services they have to directly interact with. There's also the sad reality that today's Internet is a horribly devolving mess of security and privacy compromises. Intentionally using out-of-date software to interact with any online service introduces a lot of risk.
    Anyway, getting back to that K4 phone, it has both fixed hardware and software limitations. Your son has to either lower his expectations and put in a lot of effort to scrounge up at least some working storage space on a very frequent basis, or upgrade him to a new or at least newer phone. Even a budget-class phone with adequate resources will be result in a significant improvement, something he can just pick up and use as is. You don't need to spend a lot for a flagship model, there are plenty of phone models that cost a lot less and are still perfectly adequate for daily usage. Buying a carrier-unlocked model gives you more options using different carriers, buying a carrier-locked, branded model often involves significant price reductions (but pay attention to costs over the long-term).
    Madasa, Dannydet and Hadron like this.

    MMFFCC Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Thank you very, very much to all of you guys.

    I guess I will have to reach to my wallet!!!

    Problem is, my daughter has this phone too, so wallet will be touched twice ...

    BTW, I am in Canada, Vancouver.

    Tks again!
    Madasa likes this.
  8. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    Vancouver, that's awesome.
    Hopefully you're saving at least something using a discounted family plan for your cellular service ;-)

    Look at new phones for the kids as an investment, not an expense. With dodgy, barely usable phones, every time they pick it up it's a matter of anguish and frustration. With phones that are able to just do what they need as is, its a plus-plus for their quality of life. (..... and don't forget to remind them you upgraded their phones when Mother's Day rolls around.)
    Madasa likes this.
  9. Try looking for a new or used but new in box Nokia 4.2. I am looking to get one here in UK for around £80 Grade A complete, though less on eBay. Best bang for the buck. There's Motorola E6, Nokia 1.3 with Go Edition around £65 but very basic, Nokia 2.3 and 5.3 new.
    Nokia 4.2 is a complete device for no money and will have updates for a while. Thats the 3/32GB spec rather than 2 ram / 16 GB version.

    Any chance you want to adopt me and put me up in Vancouver? Free phone in it! :)
  10. MMFFCC

    MMFFCC Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Zero chance, sorry!

    I have two kids already!!!
    Madasa likes this.
  11. MMFFCC

    MMFFCC Lurker
    Thread Starter

    It is awesome, but have some issues too, but way better than where I am from.

    No offense taken, not at all, but it is a Father here!
  12. MMFFCC

    MMFFCC Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Hey guys,

    For a few hours I had the issue resolved.

    I factory reset the phone and upond new setup disabled the updates.

    Phone had almost 3gb free!

    Installed whatsapp, instagram, all was fine.

    I was happy when I gave the phone to my daughter ...

    Later on, there was no more space available, she installed TikTok and a bunch of games, and that was the end of free space!

    Later I moved some apps to the SD card and now she has 500mb free space

    I give up!

    Tks guys!
    puppykickr likes this.
  13. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    Oops, apologies for my mistake.
  14. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    "A bunch of games" caught my eye: some games use a lot of space.

    500 MB is just going to result in "low storage" warnings very quickly and very often (the phone will warn you before it runs completely out of space, since it needs some free storage as working space for the OS and apps to store temporary files: how much depends on the phone, but 500 must be close to the threshold).

    (I'd had an opportunity to visit Vancouver this week, but obviously that was cancelled several months ago...).
    puppykickr likes this.
  15. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    A good rule of thumb is to leave the same amount of open memory as there is RAM for the device.

    I actually try to leave more than that.

    My two 1GB devices have 1.3GB and 2GB open.

    I also have two devices that have 2GB RAM, and they,both have more than 3GB of open memory.

    As for those social apps, my guess is that they are large, if not huge apps for that device.

    It would definitely serve better to use the browser to access any site that you can, ie. Facebook, Instagram, etc.

    Once you bookmark these sites into the browser, you no longer need the apps for them on the device.

    Uninstalling them could leave you with the amount of space that it needs to function.

    Of course, 'a ton of games' never sounds good when talking about a low power device.

    But that does not mean that a person can't use this as a way to decide what apps are actually needed as apposed to only wanted.

    I use an excellent browser/downloader (IDM+) that forces a theme onto all my sites.
    I have hundreds of sites bookmarked, including all of my social sites.

    If there is a web site available I have no use for the app itself, as my browser takes its place and takes up less space than just one of those apps.
  16. Trom

    Trom Well-Known Member

    You might consider looking on Amazon or Aliexpress for an unlocked phone, you can find plenty of 32g phones for under a hundred Canadian bucks, or >64g phones for not much more.
  17. WIZz_AU

    WIZz_AU Lurker

    I notice nobody has mentioned doing a Factory Data Reset in order to recover storage space.

    I came to this forum looking for answers to my constantly shrinking storage space, I find that constant updates are causing me to need to reset my phone every few months to recover the lost space and perhaps the OP is having a similar issue and a factory reset though not an ideal solution should recover some space in order to make the phone usable.
    puppykickr likes this.
  18. mikedt

    mikedt 你好

    If you're using a phone that only has 8GB of internal storage, then you're always going to be fighting free up space, like repeatedly resetting it. These days, with current Android versions, apps, games, etc. IMO 32GB internal storage is the absolute minimum one should be looking at in a phone.

    FWIW my first Android phone ten years ago, a Samsung Galaxy S had 16GB internal storage, so I can't even imagine what 8GB internal storage would be like to have in a smart-phone now.
    Dannydet likes this.
  19. WIZz_AU

    WIZz_AU Lurker

    I have a Samsung A30 with 32gb of storage but need to reset my phone every few months because of the way the data is being handled from the constant updates.

    With a fresh factory reset, android version update and all apps and games updated I have around 19gb free but a few months later and I have only 2-3gb remaining, the lost space is always hidden and untraceable.
  20. They did do a factory reset, see post # 12.
    It was only a temporary solution until more apps were installed and things updated, then it was back to insufficient space.
    As already established there is no permanent fix for not enough storage other than a new device that has more.
    mikedt likes this.
  21. mikedt

    mikedt 你好

    Well I did state previously that 32GB internal storage is the absolute minimum one should be looking at in a phone. And one might have to rather conservative about what apps, games, music, pictures, videos, etc. that you keep on the phone. If you're using Facebook, that can be notoriously bloated. A few years ago friend of mine was howling about full storage with a 32GB Samsung Note 5, and it was Wechat had consumed over 10GB with cache. Although Tencent have subsequently fixed that.

    Myself, I wouldn't have a daily use smart-phone with less than 128GB internal storage now
    #21 mikedt, Jul 15, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020
  22. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Mind you I've never experienced space disappearing like that. Are you sure you don't have some rogue app you keep reinstalling, or browsers or social media apps caching vast amounts of data (in which case a factory reset is overkill).

    I update a dozen apps a day on average with no impact on my free storage, so if you really do lose storage with app updates there is something screwy with your manufacturer's implementation of android (system app updates do add to space used, but only the first one - after that each update overwrites the previous one).
    puppykickr and mikedt like this.
  23. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    This really sounds like a case of too many apps for too limited of a device.

    I am, if I don't say so myself, sort of an aficionado of weak little memory strapped devices.

    I use four devices, two of which are 1GB RAM with 8GB total and two others that are both double that.

    One of the 1GB devices is a 5.1.1 and the other is a 8.1.0

    Recently, I added a few apps for testing onto the 5.1.1, so the system is a bit bloated right now...


    Normally the system is between 4.10GB and 4.25GB.

    A good rule of thumb is to leave at least as much open internal memory as the device has RAM, and preferrably more.

    And yes, stock apps that you use do grow. As do most every other app.

    So you must start deleting apps, and you usually can't delete system apps.

    So, a great start is to eliminate every single social media app on the device, and use a small, fast browser to access those sites instead.

    That alone can easilly save you ½GB, and on a device like these, that makes a large difference.

    Get rid of any cleaning apps, booster apps, battery apps, cooling apps, and the like.

    You don't need them, and the vast majority don't help.
    (I do know of a select few, but most do nothing on a device running 8+)

    Ditch any 'security' apps, anti-virus, anti-malware, or that type of thing.

    More junk- it is all snakeoil and smoke & mirrors.

    They scare you into thinking you need them, while actually making devices more vulnerable and hogging resources.

    Finally, how many pictures/videos are on the device?
    These should l go onto the SD card, of course, but there is another issue- the thumbnails.

    A thumnail is a low resolution replica of a picture or video, to make it easy to find.

    Every single video and photo has one.

    The problems come when you have many pictures and/or videos, and then the thumbnails build up.

    And if you have multiple apps that deal with media, each one can have its own library of thumbnails.

    I am not kidding when I say that I used to need to clear out 2-3GB just of stupid thumbnails on a weekly basis!

    So, check your file manager, and look for the setting 'show hidden files'.

    The thumbnails are usually hidden by placing a . before the name.

    If you find such a pile of steaming thumbnails, let me know, and I will show you how to keep them from building up.

    I have successfully done this for all four of my devices, and it has been great ever since.
  24. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    Oh, and one more thing.
    About those updates.

    Eventually, you will be faced with an update that you do not like, and/or is no longer compatible with your device.

    I am running into those on my 5.1.1.

    At that point, you are stuck with whatever version still works on your device.

    At least the app stops growing at that point.
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