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Is expandable storage still a must-have feature?

MicroSD tray on the Galaxy S9
MicroSD tray on the Galaxy S9 (Image credit: Android Central)

As time goes on, our smartphone wants/needs tend to change. Technology improves, certain features get better, and this can result in previously necessary things becoming nothing more than an optional luxury.

Take expandable storage, for example. When phones shipped with much less internal storage and unlimited data plans didn't exist, being able to pop in a MicroSD card for extra space was often a necessity. Today, however, that's rarely the case.

A few of our AC forum members recently got to talking about their current stance on expandable storage, saying:

No SD slot doesn't bother me. As long as the actual phone comes with at least 256 gb I'd be good.

sweetypie31

I'd need a terabyte to drop the SD as that's what I (effectively) have now.

sbhnet

I would want 512 without SD card. The fold 2 only has 256 and I'm making that work, but I don't have my movies downloaded and always deleting pictures. I would feel comfortable with a 512. My fear is samsung is going to jump on the apple train again since they seem to like that ride lately and start gauging for memory.

trucksmoveamerica#AC

No SD card, no buy!

Jerry Schuller

Now, we want to hear from you — Is expandable storage still a must-have feature?

Join the conversation in the forums!

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

34 Comments
  • Depends on the user but for me personally it hasn't been something I've needed in about 10 years. I can get by quite easily with 64gb but 128gb is comfortable for me. Cloud storage and big/unlimited data plans have put paid to the onboard storage issue for most people these days but I definitely need that hybrid card slot for a 2nd sim card
  • I'm exactly the same. There are also a lot of reasons to get rid of expandable storage, but it's hard to say someone who needs it is wrong. The hybrid SIM actually irritates me though. Companies like Samsung are supposed to have some of the best engineers in the world, but they can't figure out how to make 2 SIMs and an SD card usable at the same time?
  • With Google Photos, I can never view my videos on my phone. It just buffers, regardless if I'm on wifi or not. I will always prefer an SD card that I can swap out, and with Google Photos now charging for photos, I'm more keen to keep my SD card slot.
  • I've had phones with and without a card slot. It's nice to have one so I can load my music on the memory card, but if it's not there, I just do without.
  • Expandable storage was never must have. Enough storage is. Put enough onboard and we won't keep asking for expandable storage. "Enough" is going to vary by user.
  • Nailed it. That's pretty much every other answer (including mine) in a beautiful nutshell.
  • so then, what is "enough" if it varies? you may need just 128GB, but I might need 512, or someone else need more. I don't want to pay $200 or $300 for an upgraded model that has 256 or 512 standard, when
    I can plop a $30-50 card in there and have the same amount. I'm ok with losing the headphone jack over the SD card slot.
  • SD card slot should be a option One company does something then everyone jumps on the bandwagon, it's OK to be different. With apps, pictures, and 4K & 8K video, SD card slot should be on the phone.
  • All of the comments highlighted above say no to sd card only if the phone itself has a huge amount of storage. Looks like large storage on phone is a necessity. Whether that's only via phone storage or a combination of expandable does not seem to matter.
  • I rarely go over 32GB. So making 128GB standard for all phones should be sufficient for most people.
  • umm no. 128GB I passed long ago, and many people I know too.
  • I try really hard not to project my use case onto other people, so I would never say “no, it’s stupid to not buy a phone that doens’t have a micro sd card slot”. I am not everyone, and what I do is different than everyone. But personally, I just don’t understand the need to have every piece of content ever created on my phone all the time. I could get by with 128GB of storage, though I think all flagships should come with at least 256 in 2021. I usually keep a couple movies downloaded, and maybe 7-8GB of music. combine that with a few games and I *might* get to 60GB of used storage not counting photos, which are easy to offload when I need to. I personally don’t see a need in having all the music ever available locally, or more video content than I could possibly watch in one go. I’ll load it up a bit more when I am travelling (you know, assuming we ever get to do that again), but 99% of the time, I don’t need to hoard all the content all the time. Again, different strokes for different folks.
  • With Google Photos, I can never view my videos on my phone. It just buffers, regardless if I'm on wifi or not. I will always prefer an SD card that I can swap out, and with Google Photos now charging for photos, I'm more keen to keep my SD card slot. Besides, there ARE people without unlimited data, so making them stream videos/music/movies from the cloud eats into that data. We should all have the option to use it or not
  • You do have that option.
  • With Google Photos going to limited storage/pay storage, I will need an micro sd slot.
  • Yes, must easier to move photos/videos around this way.
  • Both our Pixel 4 and Pixel 3 have 64GB total storage each. There has never been a time when that wasn't sufficient for us. I do have a 2TB Google One data plan that I share with my husband and we've never even come close to using even 10% of that. Of course, some of our "data" isn't counted, like all 180GB of music I have stored through Google Music (now YouTube Music) or our Google Photos "free" storage. But, with the ubiquitousness of cloud storage, gobs of local storage just isn't needed by us. I can see where some people, a relative few, would need that external storage but that's an outlier case these days.
  • Yes, shoud be always an option to expand built-in storage, and a good place to put all the digital trash!;D
  • It should always be an option IMO. It's one reason why I have issues with buying gaming phones and my biggest issues with the OnePlus. I love being able to swap out memory cards when using another phone.
  • My phone has 128 GB and thats more than sufficient. I still have more than 95 GB unused. Of course I do utilize cloud storage options. Back in the day when I used expandable storage I encountered a number of serious issues with cards. Maybe they are better now but I don't need one.
  • Well, I like to carry all my media with me, because you can't always count on "the cloud," and never mind potential security issues with your crap being on someone else's servers. Yes, I have my own Plex server, but their apps suck balls. I have 150gb worth of music. About 20gb worth of torrented movies at any given time. Then there's the old camera/video gallery, with about 150gb on device storage right now (though I'll back it up, I like to keep a year's worth of crap onboard). Right now, I have 512gb onboard + 512gb external, and it's nice to not have to think about storage. Do I NEED the external? Not if I have at least 512gb onboard, but with OEMs still pushing 128 as standard, options are few.
  • No expandable storage, no sale. I don't want to be dependent upon my data connection to access my music. Google's betrayal with Google Play Music, and the only alternatives being subscription services are reason enough that I keep my music on a microsd card inside my handset.
  • SD cards feel so outdated and ghetto in 2021.
  • so does your comment. Not everyone has an unlimited data plan, and with Google Photos now charging, why spend more to have cloud storage, when a simple SD card is cheaper than a larger internal storage phone model and cloud storage?
  • I guess. Most phones now come with plenty of built in storage.
  • I hate when people come here and say "I only use 32GB so no, we shouldn't have an SD slot because its not needed" type of comments.
    We are all different. You may use 2GB of data, someone else might use 20GB.
    Heck, if we applied those comments to life, why should someone have a 5000SF home, when a 1500SF home will work, or why buy a Bentley when a Hyundai will get you to the same destination? We should have the option to use it or not. Granted, starting storage should increase, but having an SD slot will help a vast number of folks, and provide an option to those that don't need it, but one day might. My mother had an iPhone 32GB model and was always having to remove pictures. She finally bought a 256GB model. She might only need 128GB, but now has a buffer to last her longer. For me, with Google Photos, I can never view my videos on my phone. It just buffers, regardless if I'm on wifi or not. I will always prefer an SD card that I can swap out, and with Google Photos now charging for photos, I'm more keen to keep my SD card slot. So if you need it, good. If you don't need it, don't slam those that do need it. I currently have a 200GB card and have 30GB left. NExt card will be a 256GB.
  • I just upgraded my tablet. Being able to swap the memory card from the old to the new meant that I copied all my photography without connecting to the computer once. The SD slot also means that I can review what I'm shooting on a significantly larger screen than the back of my camera, in a fraction of the time it would take to copy stuff over. It may be niche, but as long as phone manufacturers are charging $180 for what you could get with a $70 MicroSD card, it's got a place for those of us that routinely fill that space with media.
  • Probably the most important thing to keep in mind: if the SD card goes away, how will we get to hear Flossy Carter say "slOT!"
  • Yes, an SD card is a deal breaker for me. If you don't need it, don't use it. It's really that simple! For those that say they don't need it, great! No two people are the same, and everyone has their reasons for wanting it or not. Myself, it's the ease of portability of MY data. That, along with how cheap an SD card is compared to Samsung, LG, Google, or whoever selling me a phone with extra internal storage for $300, $400 or more, the choice is a no brainer to me.
  • Is expandable storage still a must have feature? Yes yes and more yes. I don't need to go into the reasons as more than half of the 26 people who answered before me already gave the reasons to keep it. So, keep it. And bring back the 3.5mm jack. Not all of us have Bluetooth ear buds or want them (I already have too many devices that need to be charged).
  • For me its a huge convenience. I take a lot of photos and videos. The combined storage of my phone and a single SD card isn't enough unless I'm constantly uploading to a hard drive or cloud. Its easier to be able to swap out SD cards and get on with it.
  • No S21 for me..Like someone else said, without google photo storage anymore, I am using the SD card more than ever
  • Yes I still expect an SD option. I do not want to be at the mercy of cloud storage, or have to worry about coverage to be able to stream my content.
  • I'll keep my Note 9 until it dies: headphone jack + sd card.