MICROSD CARDS: irreplaceable or unnecessary?

Debates on expandable storage on mobiles seem like it will never end, especially when recently some big guys like Samsung Galaxy S6 and Xiaomi Mi4i have removed microSD card slots from their bodies. This somehow causes another heated discussion in the community of smartphone users. So, the question is: “Why are there so many people who want microSD card slots while smartphone manufacturers want to get rid of them?”

microsd card


The main reason for the existence of microSD cards is because of their COST and convenience. MicroSD cards appears along with feature phones and allows users to store their pictures, songs, contacts, themes, videos, etc. However, it does not cost much money for such a useful card. Moreover, a microSD card slot can connect with a computer or a smart device easily, so we can download or transfer files conveniently and store anything we like.

Another reason is that if a phone offers a small storage space with a microSD card slot, that phone’s price is not very expensive. These days, expandable storage cards are even cheaper than before, just from RM15 to several hundred ringgit, which means you can freely add a significant amount of storage to your smartphone without much concern over the card cost. Imagine that with just a small card worth about RM60 to RM70, you can increase the storage of a 32GB smartphone up to 64GB. Meanwhile, Apple asks for RM424 more for a 64GB iPhone 6 compared to a 32GB one. Of course, there are some differences in the technology between the native extra storage and the expanding one with a microSD, but to be honest, ordinary consumers do not tend to care about that.


Thirdly, microSD card slots is portable. There are still many people prefer a microSD card to cloud syncing nowadays because who knows when the Internet is going to be low or in some countries, the Internet is expensive, so it is far cheaper to have a microSD card to store internal data.


What did phone makers think when deciding to move the microSD card slot away? The answer mainly surrounds one word: PERFORMANCE. A slower-class card like Class 4 will have slower read or write speeds while a newer class like Class 10 microSD card is faster but more expensive. Thus, consumers who are not fully aware of the differences would be more likely to buy a slower one without understanding the results of using it. And why does smartphone maker concern about this matter? Let’s see how Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra explains:

“You think you’re buying like a Kingston or a SanDisk but you’re actually not, and they’re extremely poor quality, they’re slow, they sometimes just stop working, and it gives people huge number of issues, apps crashing all the time, users losing data, a lot of basically complaints and customer frustration. It’s gonna be a while before you finally accept that maybe the reason why it’s not performing is because you put in an SD card, right? You’re gonna blame the phone, you’re gonna blame the manufacturer, you’re gonna shout and scream and try to get it fixed, so many different ways until you say, ‘Actually, let me just take the SD card out and see what happens.’”

Who would want such bad press?


We know that Samsung Galaxy S6 features with a new UFS 2.0 flash memory that is said to be a lot faster than the standard flash one on smartphones, and closer in performance to solid-state drives (SSDs). Even a Class 10 memory card would appear slow with that kind of speed, which surely leads to complaints saying that the device is “slowing down”. Hence, to prevent those things beforehand, Samsung chose to remove one of the most practical features to maintain Samsung S6 premium performance.

Similarly, that is also the reason why Hugo Barra is against the presence of microSD card slot on their affordable Xiaomi Mi 4i smartphone. “For high performance the devices, we are fundamentally against an SD card slot,” he claimed.

Finally, in aspect of “portability”, smartphone makers argue that there are many types of cloud syncing like Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Box, etc., so smartphones do not need need microSD card slot anymore. Your phone can automatically syncs app data to your Google account, so in case of using a new device, your apps would be downloaded immediately. Why worry about a flimsy and tiny card when you have the power of the cloud?


We do not know whether this surprises you or not, but years ago Google was going against cheap memory expansion. Specifically, in 2011, Google did begin to encourage phone makers to increase phone internal storage instead of relying on expandable memory. The feature that let apps be transferred to a memory card called Apps2SD and introduced in Android 2.2 Froyo, seems to be a temporary solution. However, consumers are not likely to forget the cheap microSD card, so maybe they still choose small internal storage and external storage.


To conclude, we have to admit that microSD card has its own pros and cons. So, whether people should keep and improve microSD cards or replace it with another better solution is still debated. How about you? What would you say? Are you FOR or AGAINST microSD card?