MicroSD cards and high-end smartphones

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microSDcard

Yesterday, on Twitter, I quoted something that was said by an anonymous individual. That quote generated a response that triggered this blogpost. Here is the quote from Tamedun (in Yoruba language, Tamedun or Lagbaja are names used to refer to anonymous persons):

“I have both the One X and the S3 and use the One X far more. It is just so much nicer to want to look and play with”

The response I got to that quote was this:

Advantage of the S3; Expandable memory slot! QED.

While that response would be appropriate in another context, the particular context of the discussion makes it a different case altogether. The context here is that of the high-end smartphone segment. The Galaxy S3 and One X are playmates with the iPhone 4S in terms of price range. If there is anything that the iPhone has proven over the years, it is that the high-end segment plays by a different set of rules from the rest of the market.

Things that matter at the bottom of the pyramid do not necesarilly matter at the top. One particular thing that doesn’t matter at the top of the pyramid is expandable memory – microSD cards and the like.


People who can afford these sort of devices often have access to multiple PCs at home, at work, everywhere. As such, syncing or copying files via PC isn’t an issue. The microSD card isn’t missed.

At the top of the pyramid, syncing and storing files via Cloud storage also isn’t a big issue. People who can afford an HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy S III or iPhone 4S are not limited by the cost of mobile internet access. They also often have access to WiFi at their places of work or even at home.

I have owned and used the iPhone 3GS, Nokia E7 and now HTC One X. None of these support microSD cards. Yet, I haven’t missed anything using any of them. The case of 3GS was terrible in my experience though because of the lack of USB mass storage, as I like to manually copy and arrange my files in certain ways. That was me. Besides the iPhone 3GS, I have been able to put all my files – documents, audio and video – on the E7 and One X without issues.

Individual mileage may vary, as you can see that I had issues with the 3GS because of the lack of USB mass storage (it wasn’t the lack of microSD card that was the issue), but it is pretty clear that the top of the pyramid isn’t limited by the lack of something as basic as a microSD card slot. Phones in that segment sell in droves without it.

36 comments

  1. In my opinion, it isn’t about the top vs bottom end devices. People know what they are used to, some can live without it, some don’t want to.

    The people I know with iPhones don’t miss the MicroSD storage because they never used it on previous devices. Those who did were quite willing to compromise because they were changing to a totally different OS. None are reliant on Cloud storage.

    As far as I’m concerned, it will become more common in future. The Sony Xperia U is not considered a “high end” device but comes with no MicroSD. Likewise the Nokia Lumia 610. I’m sure they won’t be the only lower spec’d phones like this – MicroSD is no longer sacred.

  2. I totally agree with Noni’s submission on this.

    A lack of microSD on any phone is totally dumb. Just like the absence of a useable file system.

    Is it space that is at such a premium? Or what IS the advantage?

    If you acquire such a device- advisedly, good for you.

    if I am asked to choose between similarly spec’d phones, I will always ALWAYS choose the one with microSD.

    Lots of high end phones like microSD. The irony of life is that – most folks who can afford such devices do not miss the SD card- like Yomi said. Not just because they have PCs, tablets, etc, but because they probably do not use the devices to the limit of their capacity anyway..It is just of status!

  3. As for me i can do without a micro sd card slot in a smart phone as long as it has usb on the go, mass storage mode with with more than 8 gig internal storage and a file system.

  4. Totally agree with Eye_Bee_kay.
    Most of them don’t even have time or find time to really explore the device.
    It is just for status!

  5. Micro SD adds to the versatility of any device. Increases your options of file storage and transfer. Phones, tablets, cameras, ebook readers even your car and home sound system.
    Right now I’m considering buying a 64GB MicroSD-XC for one of my devices with a lifetime warranty of course maybe from Amazon. Throw that into any tablet and you would have doubled if not quadrupled the available memory.

  6. Like Eye.Bee.Kay said, most don’t miss the lack of SD card because they do not use the device to its fullest potential. However, I’ll like to add that most of the devices in question already have high capacity internal storage. Having said that, SD card is an important factor for me in a smart phone. I have an N8 (mass memory of 16GB) but I still had to put a 16GB (that was the maximum available then) micro SD card. This is still not enough for me. I will always prefer a smart phone with expandable memory, no matter how big it’s internal memory.

  7. One of the things I hate about my galaxy tab is its lack of memory card slot. In fact I plan to dump it and buy another one once the note 10.1 arrives in the country.

  8. What? I do not understand the reasoning of some people here. Because a person chooses a phone with no microSD card slot, he/she does not use the phone to its full potential? That is the use of Solid State Drives people.

    MicrosSD slots are needed if your phone does not have SSD like the Nokia 5800. Or if you do not have a PC and you have nowhere else to put your files but your phone.

    Solid State Drives are faster, more reliable and are of better quality than any microSD card. That is why they are so expensive. Having no microSD card slot is not a deal breaker for most people, just look at the iPhone 4S. You know why? All people I know who uses an iPhone has a laptop or desktop and they can just use iTunes to transfer files.

    I guess there are a lot of people who buy phones without owning even an entry level desktop pc. Those are the same people here that are bragging about the apps on their phones. Now, to me – that is plain stupid.

    Those people using a smartphone and not owning a PC are the ones who do not use their phones to its full potential.

  9. Eye_Bee_kay:

    They do not miss the microSD because they do not need it. You have an iPhone 4S or a Nokia N9 with 64Gig of phone storage, you would not even miss a microSD.

    Now, if you have a Nokia 5800 with its 81 MB of phone storage – Well you might as well burn the phone without a microSD card.

    Wow, those people with 64 gigs of phone storage capacity are not plain dumb after all. I wonder who is.

  10. Eh, eh, the infamous glendaROBOT has transmogrified into TurboGlendz? Interesting!

    But then, a renamed glendaROBOT is as illogical as always. Old wine. New skin. Stale as always! Ouch!

    A confused ROBOT is a menace to Mobility Society!

  11. turboglendz I think you are missing the point here. The truth is MicroSD adds versatility not only sorage space. You can transfer files seamlessly across devices (not just phones, smart or otherwise) without having to launch an application on a PC. You come across a beautiful shot taken on a friends camera on his vacation and want a copy and both of you are on the field, will u start looking for a PC to launch iTunes and the camera’s software or you just insert d camera’s memory card into the phone?

  12. Abimbola Sojimi:

    Do you think I do not know that? I own a Nokia n8 and an iPhone 4S. You are the ones missing the point of the article. I agree that it is an advantage having both a SSD and microSD slot.

    What I do not agree is what EyeBeeKay saying that “A lack of microSD on any phone is totally dumb.” Then again, that is not the point of the article.

    Here is a paragraph from the article:

    People who can afford these sort of devices often have access to multiple PCs at home, at work, everywhere. As such, syncing or copying files via PC isn’t an issue. The microSD card isn’t missed. -This is very true, and that is the point of the whole article.

    @EyeBeeKay: It is not dumb using phones with no microSD slot. We could just afford high end phones and laptops and unlimited internet access and 5GB of cloud storage from Skydrive. These types of people are not stupid. It is not their fault that they have the means and the money not to miss the microSD slot. Do not post hasty, stupid conclusions just because your phone is obsolete. Do not hate. I advise you to save money and buy a modern flagship phone and a laptop. Then you could stop being bitter.

  13. I may have multiple PCs and laptops, and have loads of dough to buy even 50GB of cloud storage and be able to buy unlimited internet data. Unfortunately, in this part of the world, all my money cannot buy me seamless high speed internet connection. So I still fall back on local storage.

  14. The missing piece of the cloud storage puzzle in this environment is the lack of fast and RELIABLE internet connection. If all your stuff are in the cloud, you cannot afford even a minute of downtime. Maybe we will have to stick with ‘terrestial’ rather than ‘celestial’ storage for now and then make the shift as things improve. Cloud is a good backup option too.

  15. I read somewhere recently that Africa has to start embracing the cloud, but how? Without consistent and steady internet connection in place, it will remain a piped dream.

    Even then, out of habit, we will do our back-ups on planet earth because we know connection to the cloud will not be consistent.

    But I suspect there will be a time when many of us will not have a choice about Micro/Mini SD storage. More and more high-end, mid-range and lower spec’d smartphones are being produced with only internal storage. We may still have choices now, but for how much longer?

  16. Mr. Mo Sir, please help me out. My last comment on this topic does not belong here. Please help me send it to dev/null.

    Thank you Sir.

  17. To me the additional memory offered by a microSD card doesn’t really factor in especially if I had a device that has up to 8GB memory built in.
    I really don’t need more capacity on my phone, when all I would have in it would be mostly mp3 (1500 songs would do just fine ), a few videos like 50, a few new movies for the trip like 5 max, some essential apps, ebooks, like 10 casual games and then pictures that are taken by the phone’s camera.
    Those that have an almost need for memory cards are those that have devices with meager built in memory say less than 4GB and probably lack of back Up like a PC.

  18. @ martinkem
    ” Those that have an almost need for memory cards are those that have devices with meager built in memory say less than 4GB and probably lack of back Up like a PC.”

    You probably have not been reading the thread. Nokia N8 has a mass memory of 16GB. I added micro SD of 16GB to that, I’m still running out of storage space. One HD game could take as much as 1GB of space on your disk, one full length HD movie would take about the same. I have lots of ebooks (textbooks) that I would love to have handy. My ebooks collection alone is up to 7GB.

  19. martinkem:

    You are correct my man! Especially if your phone does not have good internal memory like the Nokia 5800. You would really need a microSD slot.

  20. Austine Ezemelue:

    You are running out of memory because you want all your files stored in your phone. Wow! you have 7GB of ebooks on your phone? A typical ebook is 4MB big, that means you have around 1750 ebooks stored in your phone. What are you gonna do with all that? Unless you are lying of course.

    You are using your phone’s storage like a PC. My PC has 1TB of storage and I still need more. That is because I do not delete the files I don’t need.

    martinkem was reading the article. You were only reading the thread. Solution is, read one ebook and delete it. Or read one ebook and transfer it to a PC when you are done. It is that simple. You do not need to carry almost 2000 ebooks with you. Ebooks are not mp3s you know.

  21. Glenda, it is obvious that we are not talking about the same type of ebooks. Maybe my ebooks are atypical. I have ebooks (in pdf format) that are over 80MB). I’m talking of medical books with pictures. And yes I like to have them with me because I never know when I’ll need one. After all, that’s why I want my books in electronic format. Have you seen ibooks of iOS, the textbooks are typically up to 500MB.
    The amount of space you need depends on what you’re using your device for.

  22. @ Austine – poor you, 7GB of ebooks on your phone/MicroSD! Enclyclopedia Brittanica? Handy I understand,but do you really need to carry them around with you all of the time? Can’t you get another MicroSD card to decant them to, or does everything have to be on the same MicroSD card?

    I would suggest you decant some of those films and games to save space, or are they all compulsory for your every day use?

  23. Noni, did you hear yourself
    ” Can’t you get another MicroSD card to decant them to, or does everything have to be on the same MicroSD card?”

    The argument here is not whether the micro SD card is big enough, but rather, it is that whether MicroSD card is needed at all. If my device does not support micro SD, how can I”decant them to another SD card”. The device in question is not supposed to have a card slot. Let me spell it out, the limitation being argued here is not the size of the external storage (Micro SD card), but rather, it is the absence of external storage.

  24. Do what works for you. But using MicroSDs is a simple and hassle free way to store and TRANSFER files. Glenda is saying Austin is using his phone like a PC. I thought that was the whole idea. True mobility. Welcome to 2012 where laptops are the new desktops (if not mainframes- lol)

  25. And Austine Ezemelue / Abimbola Sojimi finally used well articulated superior logic to kill the incoherent illogical ramblings of the confused (glemda)ROBOT.

    I owe you guys! ( thumbs up )

  26. Now- who has the time /patience to read such monster books?

    More importantly, who has the stick-to-it-iveness to write su,ch books? Perhaps they are so voluminous because there are diaphragms – i mean DIAGRAMs / pictures?

    Thank goodness I am not a Doctor /Lawyer!

  27. @Eye.Bee.Kay, yes they have diagrams, pictures, and some even have videos

    And you don’t just read them and discard them like novels, you keep them for future references.

  28. @Austine, can you hear yourself?

    I was referring specifically to your “complaint” regarding your Nokia N8 with MicroSD storage space (or lack of). If the Nokia N8 was considered a high end smartphone two years ago, it isn’t anymore.

    Mobile phone technology is continuously changing; some of those standards will stick, some may take a while to become the norm, and some may fall by the wayside. Expandable memory slots will be around as long as manufacturers choose to cater for it, but in all likelihood may not be included in many of the high end devices. They may even decide to change the format altogether, who knows?

    Right now the Galaxy S3 stands out, as expandable memory storage is excluded from the HTC One X, Nokia Lumia 900, and iPhone 4s, other high end devices. May you enjoy your N8’s MicroSD storage capabilities for as long as it lasts.

  29. Austine Ezemelue:

    Those who need those types of reference materials are usually doctors or professionals who could afford to buy a decent laptop, or an iPad. I have an N8 and I do not read ebooks using this device. I could, but why would I? If my job requires me to have ebook references, I would buy an iPad. Better yet, I would buy a laptop. We are going out of topic here.

    Point is, the lack of microSD slot is not a deal breaker for most people.

  30. @austin
    Reading pdfs with pictures on a mobile, that’s just uncomfortable to me, most times u require a great dealing of panning to see the pictures fully and then returning back to the tex. mobile ebooks to me should stop at the epub & kindle formats which supports pics.
    To me my mobile device should be for consuming media presently and moving to something else, I would only keep files that I use regularly and the newly downloaded files on my mobile. I can’t imagine trying to fit all my files on my pc on them. can you just imagine what would happen if your phones gets stolen or lost someone would have access to almost all your files.
    On the issue of reference materials I have got dictionaries on my phone, a geology encyclopedia, a concised wikipedia, 5 language dictionaries, 8 medical reference ebooks, Bible. In the internet age I really don’t need more when I’ve got google and wikipedia + internet on my phone.

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