We are in 2022, and yet, Samsung phone users still face the threat of bloatware, an irritating example being the UI treating TikTok as an essential app. Now the tactic is not unheard of. Chinese smartphone makers such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo have drawn valid criticism in the past regarding the amount of bloatware preinstalled on their devices. Samsung and its One UI skin aren’t too far behind. However, the situation gets even worse on carrier-locked devices.
Take, for example, the T-Mobile version of Samsung’s pricey new flagship, the Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G. The official carrier database says the phone comes pre-installed with 49 apps. But this is not the end. On the entry-level Galaxy A03s, the number jumps to 59 apps, with Spotify and McAfee Security being the further additions. The number rises to 77 pre-installed apps on the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G. And what is truly mind-blowing is the fact that the Galaxy A52 5G, which was positioned as an Android alternative to the iPhone SE, has 90 pre-installed apps.
TikTok is absent from any of the lists mentioned above, but it seems other carriers or unlocked units have a penchant for bundling the popular app as a pre-installed freebie on Samsung phones. It’s not a new trend, but the fact that it’s still bothering users in 2022 is disheartening. Reuben Binns, associate professor at the University of Oxford, tweeted a photo of a Samsung phone’s setup screen, which calls TikTok an essential app. The phone looks like a budget Galaxy device is an unlocked unit. Now, about the application status. An essential application is essentially a necessary evil. “Some of these apps are essential for the proper functioning of your device and cannot be uninstalled or disabled”, says a Samsung official support page. As for non-essential apps pre-installed on Samsung phones, users can uninstall them immediately after the installation process is completed.
Apparently, TikTok is essential for your Samsung phone
So what can users do if an app is deemed essential at the system level but cannot be uninstalled? As by Samsung, these apps cannot be disabled. To do this, open the app drawer, long-press the app icon, and tap the Disable button that appears in the pop-up window. Users can also do the same from the settings section. Open the Settings app, tap on the Apps option, select the app and navigate to the available option – Uninstall or Disable. However, some main apps like Camera will not show any of the options mentioned above. So, a third option is to uninstall the app directly from its Play Store listing.
Once an app appears essential during the setup process, there’s no escaping it. Why TikTok is considered an essential app is something Samsung phone users angrily discussed in the official report Samsung forum and Reddit for at least the past two years. A developer tool like ADB can help uninstall unnecessary internal apps that hog internal storage, but these tools are not easy to use. It’s unclear how TikTok is an essential app, but for the average smartphone user, it’s nothing more than a cash grab between the world’s most popular app and the largest smartphone seller in the world.
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