Memory is not to be sold short as being the epitome of what makes our phones so versatile. The amount of content we are able to put on our phones is entirely dependent on how much memory we have on a device. You have 2 GB of memory? You get 2 GB of media. You have 8 GB of memory? You get 8 GB of media! But what happens when you run out of memory? You have one of two options, depending on your device.

Option A: Insert a microSD card

So you’ve run out of memory – what a bummer! For those of you lucky enough to have purchased phones with expandable memory, congratulations! Your job is ten times easier than those without. When you run out of internal memory all you have to worry about is finding a microSD card with the amount of memory of your choosing and voila! Instant phone upgrade for a fraction of the price – and that’s it, you’re done. Go ahead and download all the apps you want, you crazy app hound, you.

However, for the other half of smartphone owners who skimped out on a microSD card slot our job is a little harder. In order for us to download more apps we have:

Option B: Delete things and/or rely on “The Cloud”

Anybody with a device that unfortunately does not have an external SD card slot probably already knows that feeling when you try to download an app or a song on your device and you get the ever-appalling message from your phone that says “Not so fast, tiger.” You have to give a little to get a little. While a little spring cleaning never does anybody any harm, some people actually use all of that space actively. So then what do you do? Well, you can either get a new phone or rely on the cloud (services like DropBox, iCloud, etc.) to store your things. Personally I’m not a big fan of the cloud. I’d rather know that all of my info and media are stored in my phone and in my phone alone. Regardless of my opinion on the subject, you do have options when it comes to running out of internal memory without expandable memory options, it’s just not nearly as convenient as being able to insert or swap out cards.

My question is: why do some manufacturers leave it out in the first place?

Clearly it’s not one of those things that is hindering any sales, as we can see with phones like the iPhone and, more recently, the HTC One. However, it is something that’s been bugging me. I really like knowing that once I run out of memory I have the option to simply add more when I feel like it. And if I run out of memory on that card? No big deal, I could simply switch it out with something bigger, or even another card of the same size. I don’t have to delete information to be able to attain more.

I guess you can say I’m a data hoarder. It started out small; I never previously used all of my memory. I’ve explained in a few articles at this point that data hoarding did, at some point, become a thing for me. I went from not using much to using more than I thought I ever would. 4 GB to 8 GB went by rather slowly, so I thought that by getting a 16 GB iPhone that I would be safe from even getting close to using that much memory. Turns out I was wrong, because there have been several times where I have had to clean out my phone to make room for memory. As the app market continues to grow, so does the amount of memory they take as graphics get better and functionality improves. Mobile cameras are improving to the point that people use their phones as their main camera instead of carrying around a secondary device. Music apps make finding and listening to music more convenient than it has ever been. These things add up very quickly in a device with only 16 – 64 GB of memory sometimes. But instead of deleting apps, videos, and music to make room for new ones, I would like to be able to add on to my collection instead.

While I wouldn’t call expandable memory a game changer, it is still one of those features that I feel every phone should have. It just seems reasonable to have, yet it seems that more and more phones are trashing the feature as we progress.

Readers, what are your thoughts on expandable memory? Do you prefer your phones to have the option or do you always seem to have more than enough memory available on your phone for new media?   

Image via Droid-Life

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113 Reactions to this post

"Is expandable memory important to you?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
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Andrew Sheng I want expandable memory! It is very important!
Anonymous Yes, but honestly I wish more manufacturers would just build device storage directly in.
Ed Seitzinger Its the reason why I got the galaxy note 2 instead of the htc droid dna
Curtis Owens Using the cloud still eats up data usage. That is one reason they promote it so much.
Curtis Owens It is critical to me.
Bryan Prime Because expandable sd cards sick. Because people think they can pop a low classification 2006 blackberry sd card in a quad core Galaxy Note and it should work. Plus of they come into the store and their phone is jacked and power cycling and they have malware on their current memory card, they think they can just pop it in the new phone and everything is ok. I've seen SD cards cause all kinds of heck with phones, because customers aren't educated on the basic functions and classes of sd cards.
Adam Smith Most phones with expandable memory & removable batteries sell MORE.
Kim E. Salinas Ofcourse. But if already a 32 and above memory is installed its ok to me.
Philip Lu No, I got an 8gb iPhone 4 and I hardly fills it up
Paul Alexandru @Rok is right, they need to stop with the fucking high prices, this ain't only on US, on EU aswell, we pay $50 a month for the 2GB plan..
Paul Sotto Ngujo This is one of the reason why the galaxy S line is so popular...
Paul Sotto Ngujo Expandable memory is one of my criteria for buying a device, I can live with a non removable battery but expandable i don't think so...
Rok Vrtacnik What if i told you my carrier only gives 100mb's a month, what if i told you i cant afford to pay for unlimited....thats the problem with cloud storage carriers need to lower the prices so people can afford to pay for unlimited, a 32gb SD card is around 30€ here and a 2gb plan is 54€ a MONTH now if they dont fix that or put up a public wifi that does not kick you out every 3 minutes that would be great!
Rok Vrtacnik As much as it is important to include a removable battery *points at HTC* you see...now im hooked on an LG, thats what you get.
Tushar Singla It definitely is!! The scheme of things is to promote cloud. The manufacturers intentionally are ditching the expansion slot. Eg nexus 4 : who could live with 8gb storage on a prime smartphone.
Marlon Milligan Not importance to me . If a phone is nice & doesn't have expandable memory I would still buy it. I have a tablet too so I'm not hurting for portable memory.
Lynell Sumerian Sandifer It's very important to me.
Ashton Tekno Yes becuase, just incase something does go wrong with your phone, you can backup all your stuff onto the microsd.
Mauka Side Yes!!!!!!!!!!
David Moreno If a smartphone doesn't have expandable memory then it should come with 32 & 64 gb options, HTC did with the One X+, why wouldn't they with the new One? Would have probably got me sold lol
Edgar Rodriguez As of late yeah . Them hd videos eat up memory
Tyler Hell Yes it is!
Vishnu Vadlamudi Its not all that important if the phone has atleast 32gb of storage. A microsd has the convenience of easily popping it out to transfer files though.
Jonathan Makcharoenwoodhi extremely important to me
Ronnie Hill Jr Very important makes transferring my music and photos to a new phone easy. The new question is.. Why are smartphone manufacturers making phones without expandable storage?
Neil Leisenheimer "If you really need such media you need to invest in a PC or consul (console?)" ...Or they could put in a tiny, 2 cent MicroSD card reader on the SoC and we could use our phones. I don't know what you have, but my phone shoots in 1080p and takes 8mp pictures. I use the camera quite often. I have a 40gb music library, and I listen to a lot of it. I have a ton of games, and I like to have a few movies on there for entertainment. I also use my phone as a torrent client because it's quieter than my computer and uses less power. I have a 16Gb gs3 with a 64gb microsd card, with about 10gb left between storage areas. If my phone can do all this, why shouldn't I? Just because you don't use your phone to its potential doesn't mean we won't.
Patrick Scot Overrated
Sebastian Gomes I need to have expandable memory. You can never have enough memory
Andrew Bissel I'm content with cloud storage and 32 gb internal. I have 16gb nexus 4 and its just a little too small
David Cipollone Everything is in the cloud. No need for expandable memory if your network can hang in there. Sprint Unlimited, ftw.
Nathan Bryant Re-download*
Nathan Bryant No. 16 gigs is more than enough for me. You can have 100s and 100s of pics maybe thousands before you even take up a gig or even a gig and half. Unless your playing and keeping huge and heavy games that take up space then you don't need it. People keep stuff on their phone they barely use. If its not needed or in use remove it. You can always redone load it whenever. You don't need a bunch of movies just sitting on your phone and when do you have time to watch that? The average user doesn't need it to be honest. If you really need such media you need to invest in a PC or consul
CalvEen Yaam Definitely a deal breaker for me.. and that includes replaceable batteries. I had a Nexus S 4g with 16gb, no SD. It was a pain in the ass! Not enough space for videos that i shoot, music, and apps. Plus 1 time my phone died completely and there was NO WAY to retrieve my files, so I lost a $hit load of files that could have been removed in an SD card, luckily it was only 2 months worth of pics, cause I back them up every so often. Now I've switched to the GS3, with a 32gb Micro SD. FTW!
JL Perez I need a phone with expandable memory. With my expansive music library, and tons of game apps, 16GB to me is a joke. The cloud is good for some things, but it could never replace having physical memory.
Adam Smith I have a samsung galaxy s3 & i love it.
Ella Toma Not having expandable memory is a deal breaker for me. It is the main sticking point for why I won't buy an ipad mini.
Jesus Montalvo Having a sd card is extremely important for me. I spend most of my day on the t mobile 2g network so streaming music, videos, or even having my pictures on the cloud and seeing them whenever I feel like is out of the question. Even if I was on Verizon where data is more reliable I would be concerned about going over my cap. With the 64 gb card I have and the 16 my phone has allows me to save all the content I want without concerns. A phone without this option is a no go for me. It just nice to have it.
Sanad Arida It's crucial for me
Mars Ray That is why I have a blackberry z10, expandable up to 64gb
Tony Abiama Not important anymore, as long as the dev includes 32gbs and all the cloud storage options its a non issue
Jim Marshall III YES!!!!!!!
Jake Root So much stuff is not on the phone anymore. My Nexus 4 is equipped with 16gbs, but in retrospect I'm not sure it's necessary. I'm hooked on Drive.
Facebook user I"m currently running the Nexus 4 16gb, which has no expandable memory, and I don't find it to be a huge issue for me given I don't play a lot of games or have a lot of music on my phone
Kevin Eusebio they can get away with no expandable memory if the lowest model has 32gb (like the One)... but removable battery is a must.
Hemanta Rai I had never buy a phone without SD card slot ,,it's important cause I put my movies and music in my sd ,,and the phone memory is just for apps and games :-)and limited data cannot give me permission to stream all the time so
Matt Shipley Removable storage?...who needs that? Are you people really using over 32 or 64 gigs of data? You really need a life if you are.
Ronnae Dominique It's very important to me, that's why I'm sticking with Samsung, and why I don't have a Nexus device. I don't why why all the manufacturers are trying to copy Apple now. Android got popular being different from Apple. Removable batteries are important to me as well
Marcus Edwards Especially due to data limits removable storage is imperative. Before then streaming services were fine with me when data was unlimited.
Lawrence Lepes Expandable memory is always a great option. In a couple of years the micro SDXC Cards will read up to 2TB. Don't forget that your smartphones are your computers today.
Nicholas Kresky Not so much.
Mark Harmon What do you mean ditching expandable memory? Where the evidence of that general trend?
Jei Li Jn Baptiste I Refuse To Buy A Phone Without Expandable Memory And A Removable Battery As Well. One Of The Reasons Why I Had To Overlook The Nexus 4, HTC One, One X+, etc..
Alex Arana Sd is a must for me in case the phone needs to be replaced for warranty purpose so much easier to just insert your memory card without having to copy everything over again
Elias Ortega And yes they were good SD cards
Jamie Crane You can still use torrents without sd card
Elias Ortega As long as you give me 32gigs+ I have no problem, SD cards end up getting corrupted, I've gotten two damaged already from Samsung phones :/
Joshua Streeter This article told nothing. It simply asked the question over and over, and the author simply references herself repeatedly, again and again, in a repetitive manner which then goes on to repeat itself. The answer is simple. Manufacturers have a very thin margin on their "lower" (ex: 8gb vs 16gb) devices to make them appeal to the masses. Adding an addition 8gb might cost the manufacturer $5, but if adds $50 to $200 device, their margin just shot up nearly 25%. And then what do you do when you run out of memory on that device? Buy another from that manufacturer, as opposed to buying a $10 SD card. In conclusion: It's a profit thing. End of story.
Jamie Crane I have 32gig on my HTC one why do I need more what reason is there for mem cards now if want anything from an old phone use transfer tool if want media use app music use app so why do I need sd card
Miles Justin McNairy Expandable memory slot is important for me. I regular use torrent to downloads something and I got it configured to download directly to SD card. Also I always put music on sd card instead of phone. The rest of the internal space is going to be for apps. Video and Pictures taking from a phone camera was configured to save it to sd card.
Huey Liggins Yes. I want data with me at all times so cloud storage is a no (but still good to have) and I'd like the system storage to be left for most important data. Extra storage can never be a bad thing. That's like complaining about being given a choice.
Michael Pitts Not really that much of a problem to me seeing that I use Dropbox a lot I just make sure to get enough memory when I purchase the phone upfront so either a 32g or 64g is enough for me and the rest I place in Dropbox I have had to many SD cards fail on me to see them as reliable for a lot those special moments I like to capture as a pic or video.
Sean Cresswell http://www.zdnet.com/intel-cio-kim-stevenson-on-big-data-openstack-women-in-it-7000014221/
Anthony Stewart Yes, I have and take a lot of video and pics for business plus have tuns of games
Orion Pax Then stop buying cheap ebay sd cards. I had the 64gb sd card class 6 from SanDisk since the Galaxy S 2 days and still working on my S3 and Soon s4.
Orion Pax Htc would of had my money if they had an sd card but in China they are releasing a Htc one with sd card and removable battery. HTC USA idiots you are. Galaxy s4 or Optimus G Pro few with removable battery and sd card.
Curtis M. Cook Being that i've had sd cards fail on me and with so many cloud storage solutions available, expandable memory is not important for me.
Brandon Johnson It's not a big deal to me, I can manage without it, I had plenty of phones that didn't really need an sd card, but had one and never used it.
Kevin Mark Burkhardt very important
Miles Justin McNairy There no security issue and does not slow the phone down (Something like that does not exist). Where you even get that information from anyway???
Orion Pax Yes it slower but it works. It's not like your running apps from it. Get a class 6 or class 10 and it's fast enough to even shoot videos from it.
French Twist Main I didn't go with the Nexus 4 was that. And the lack of swappable battery.
Orion Pax Also you know what really F up. Google say no sd card but yet they don't release a 64gb phone. Or even a 128gb Nexus.
Daniel Quintero Yes but problem is its much slower
Danny Chavez Picture, videos, and music take up a ton of space. If you travel or anything, you just need another mini sd card to continue take pics or vid
French Twist What? O_o
Dale Junior Yes. Htc is messing up without it.
Amer Ahmed I'm fine with 16 gigs
John Stavrianos me neither!!!
Orion Pax And the worst part is that if I would go with a Nexus 16gb and forgot the sd card and SanDisk releases a 128gb micro sd card then I will jump off a bridge also with Nexus for sacrificing sd card. Unless Samsung say no more sd card then I will accept it.
Lanh Nguyen I don't store much on my phones so not really and phones that I had with expandable storage I didn't use it.
Matthew Munson Not all of us want to use cloud services.
Orion Pax Google and HTC need to get their head out of their @$$ and stop forcing people into the cloud. Also need sd card for flashing roms, RoMS, nandroid backups and offline media.
George Millhouse no memory card, i dont want it
French Twist Yes. We don't want EVERYTHING in the cloud, just yet. The infrastructure isn't ready for that yet.
Steve Johns Yes it's one of the mane reasons I don't like the iPhone
Jerry Butler Yes... as is replaceable batteries...
Orion Pax Sd card and removable battery or go F yourself.
Darwin Ayala Hell yes
David Townsend I'm a bit OCD when it comes to organising my files so I am constantly deleting things I don't need and never need much data on my phone. My 32GB iPhone is big enough for me. I did have to go to 32GB this time around as with my old one my music proved to much to work with the size of the actual OS. I'll up grade next time it tells me I don't have enough space.
Lenny Rose Yea it is.
Edward Gonse It's very important. In certain cases if your device is destroyed, so much to the phone is in several pieces, there is still a chance that the memory card is still intact and usable.
JayR Yambao Yes, as much cloud space as I have it still won't replace my memory cards.
Bradley Jackson No. Research has shown it's a security issue & slows the phone down.
Sean Cresswell Yes! One of the selling points of my Galaxy Note2. NOT a fan of cloud storage [for ANYTHING meaningful] as an alternative either.
Jordan Brown I have a friend who rags on the iPhone for not having expandable memory, yet doesn't use his all mighty Micro SD card in his phone. We don't need a lot of storage nowadays because a lot of stuff is in the cloud.
Johan Gouws Yes, one of the main reasons for getting the note 2.
Randy Walker Sr. Yes it is.
Cat Velarde I think it's more of a matter of the companies ditching expandable memory so we can buy a more expensive model [i.e. iPhone]
Steve Hartsock I'm not. Big reason I went with GS4.
Nikola Karovic No. On android Rom memory is more important.
Marti Ruiz pero porsupuesto que si
Peter Blanco Yes sir!
Neil Leisenheimer Yes. It's the main reason I went with the GS3 over the One X.
Marti Ruiz Of course

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