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A relative of mine has a Sony Xperia M4 (E2303), with only 8 Gb. of internal memory. Of course, it comes preloaded with all the Sony bloatware (games centers, music store, etc.) AND all the Google bloatware, and they can't be removed, AFAIK.

Currently, the phone reports only around 320Mb. of free internal memory, and therefore it can't be upgraded to new Android versions, even though they show up as available; when you try to download them, the warning about "not enough memory" appears. The same when you try to upgrade an app like Whatsapp.

We have already moved every app that we could to the external SD card, as well as every photo, music file, etc.; in fact, when you go to "Settings/Storage" to try to transfer data to the card, nothing shows up, because everything that could be moved has been already.

Given this, what are our options in order to upgrade this phone, or its apps?

  • If I have to install a custom ROM, I will, but I'd like recommendations on whether the existing ones for this model are stable.
  • If there's any way to delete the unneeded bloatware, that would be great.
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    320 Mb after moving all the things? Something's not right. Have you cleared Cache from Settings->Storage? If yes, have you tried to factory format it from Settings->Backup & reset? – MANI Apr 16 '17 at 12:04
  • I'll try clearing the cache the next time I see my relative, thanks for the tip. As for a factory reset, how should I save the data he currently has before doing so? The photos are saved in the SD card; aside of that, he uses Line, WeChat, Google Keep and WhatsApp. Is the data automatically backed up in his Google account? Do these apps save their data in the SD card, if they have been moved there? – PaulJ Apr 16 '17 at 12:53
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    Keep and WhatsApp data can be synced from Google after formatting. IDK about Line and WeChat. After formatting apps moved to SD card won't work, you need to reinstall. – MANI Apr 16 '17 at 13:03
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Well, I finally found out about what happened, after learning a bit more about how Android works. It turns out that, although the bloatware apps are installed in /system, their updates are installed in /data. In other words: Google and Sony's bloatware not only eat up space in your system partition, but also in the space that is supposedly for the user.

What I did then was to disable every unnecessary app, and hit the "revert to factory version" option (don't remember the exact wording). This way, although you can't delete them from /system nor shrink said partition, at least you free up internal memory. After doing so, we had more than 900 Mb. of free space, and so we could update the apps that my relative actually wants to use.

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