I wish I could be more excited about the 128GB SanDisk microSD cardAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
The subject of memory is still a hot one in this industry, even at this point where it seems like we sometimes have more than we know what to do with. We have our initial allotment of internal memory, as well as a variety of ways to increase the amount of memory whether it's through cloud storage or a microSD card slot. As new smartphones hit the market, it seems that more and more of them are ditching the traditional method of including a microSD card slot, but not all will agree that cloud storage is necessarily their favorite form of providing additional storage for their media needs in a smartphone. In fact, as it stands right now, it's a rather rare treat for a flagship phone to hit shelves with a microSD card slot as a feature.
Which can be sort of a shame right now given that SanDisk just released the world's first ever 128GB microSD card, currently being sold for just $119 on Amazon.com. While it would seem like a hot buy, which it is, there is one tiny problem with purchasing one right now: Even if your phone allows for microSD card slots, not very many support the massive 128GB of storage on the tiny compact card. You can't use this card if you're using an iPhone, an HTC One, a Sony Xperia Z or even a Samsung Galaxy S4. If you want to pick up one of these cards for your smartphone, as of right now you're looking at the Samsung Galaxy S5 and that's about it.
I've brought up the subject of memory and why I think microSD cards are still useful before, but it seems like a good time to bring this up again with this new, large expansion. I've read numerous articles stating that microSD cards are outdated, slow and even unreliable; while these statements aren't necessarily untrue, I still find myself preferring the safety net of such methods of external memory over cloud storage. While there are some downsides to it, I find that the positives of external storage via microSD outweigh the negatives for me. The main reasons? MicroSD is easily interchangeable, cheap and doesn't require the Internet.
I'll first cover the cheap side of things, because that's probably one of the most noticeable differences between internal storage versus microSD cards. Let's take a look at the full price cost of the Apple iPhone to start us off. The full price of a 16GB iPhone 5s is $649. If you want to bump up the amount of internal memory by another 16GB, you're looking at $749 for the 32GB version. If that's not enough, you have one last opportunity to buy the 64GB iPhone 5s for $849, another $100 increase. You end up paying $100 for each additional 16GB of memory, compared to the new 128GB microSD card which normally costs $200. The plus side to the internal memory, however, is that you never have to worry about it being damaged and it is optimized to work well with the system no matter how much media you store on it. With a microSD card, there is risk of the card becoming damaged and/or bogging down the smartphone with so much extra media. On the plus side, a microSD card slot still enables you to expand on whatever memory you've been given in the case that you need it.
You can also expand on the price of microSD cards versus cloud storage, given that most cloud storage services are priced with annual subscriptions whereas microSD storage is a one-time purchase of an item that you physically own. If you use annual subscriptions for more than a couple of years, you're probably spending more money than you would for a microSD equivalent.
Next, you have the fact that microSD cards don't require the Internet to operate. Cloud storage is great if you constantly have Internet access, or an unlimited data plan to upload/download files to the service. However, microSD doesn't require any of that. It's always accessible, even when Internet isn't. It's a pretty simple, solid concept.
Finally, you have the easily interchangeable aspect of microSD. You run out of space, you take one out and put a new one in. It's as simple as that.
I love microSD cards, even if there is some drawback to using them. It's a shame that so few phones are being made with support for them these days in a push for more opt-ins for cloud storage, or perhaps because it "doesn't work" with the design. For this reason, it's hard for me to get that excited over the new 128GB microSD card because the options for smartphones that support it are so limited lately.
Readers, what are your thoughts about this new huge microSD card? Will you be getting a smartphone that supports 128GB of memory via microSD card just so you can use it, or will you be skipping out because the phones that do/will support it isn't the phone you want? Do you wish more phones had microSD card support? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!