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Galaxy Note 8 SD card: Top things you need to know

With a bump up to 64GB of internal storage, fewer people will find it necessary to pop an SD card into their Galaxy Note 8. But for those who need to have tons of storage available, even without a network connection, an SD card slot is a necessity.

If you fall into the latter camp, or are considering the merits of getting an SD card for your Note 8, here's the info you need to make the best use of it.

The SD card is best for media

To make the most of your SD card it's best to set your expectations from the start. Big, removable storage like an SD card is best utilized for storing large media files. Why? Well music, photos and videos can be some of the biggest files on your phone, and because of how you interact with them the inherent speed and compatibility limitations of the SD card don't really get in the way.

There are some issues with using apps on the SD card, as we'll get to down below, but you won't hit the same limitations when you're just downloading a movie to watch for your train ride into work or storing dozens of hours of Spotify playlists for a weekend camping.

Photos and videos go there by default

Galaxy Note 8

To that point on media storage, the Note 8 will automatically start putting photos and videos you capture with the phone onto the SD card. The goal is to just start loading them there by default because the phone knows it will handle them just fine, and you can save your internal storage for more mission-critical data that can't be moved externally.

You'll notice that this will create a separate folder in the Gallery for photos on the SD card versus those you've already taken and stored on the internal storage, but other than that you won't see issues. If you expect to be taking out your SD card regularly and would prefer to capture photos and videos to the internal storage again, just head into your camera app settings and toggle it back over.

You can't use Adoptable Storage

The reason why we need to make this distinction between putting data on the SD card or the internal storage is because Samsung doesn't use the "Adoptable Storage" feature in its phones. Adoptable Storage, introduced in Android 6.0, lets a phone take in an SD card and seamlessly integrate it into the system to make it and the internal storage look like one continuous block of storage. That means your 64GB phone with a 256GB SD card would appear to the system like one big 320GB volume, with no differentiation in where data goes.

Adoptable Storage is wonderful for phones that ship with a very small amount of internal storage and rely on an SD card to operate at their best, but it also has lots of usability issues. Namely the SD card can't be swapped between devices, nor can the phone properly operate with the SD card removed. Those are issues for a lot of people, and Samsung has chosen to skip Adoptable Storage and instead let people use an SD card on their Note 8 as they always have on early Galaxy phones.

You can move (some) apps to it

Galaxy Note 8 apps to SD card

Being able to move apps to the SD card is one of the original reasons so many people wanted the capability in their phone. Over the years fewer and fewer apps allow you to move them to the SD card, and it's mostly for good reason. Apps just can't perform as well when they're loaded on the SD card as they can on internal storage, and more importantly an app doesn't know if you have a nice fast card or a super old and slow one — and when an app is slow, people just blame the app developer, not their SD card.

More: How to move apps to your SD card on the Galaxy Note 8

Nonetheless, you can still move some non-intensive apps to your SD card and save on that internal space. Just head into your Note 8's settings, scroll through the apps and check out the apps you want to potentially move — they'll clearly show whether or not they'll let you make the shift. Some large apps, like games, will technically let you move the app but will only actually move part of it — don't think you'll be moving full 2GB games over to that external card.

Consider encrypting your SD card

As you start to put more and more valuable data on your SD card, you should at least consider the benefits of encrypting that card. Remember that even if you have a lock screen on your Note 8, anyone with a SIM ejection tool can remove your SD card and place it in a computer to have full access to every file on the card.

It isn't as convenient, but encrypting your SD card is a great idea.

If you encrypt the card, the only way to read those files is to unlock your phone with the card inside and either view the files locally or decrypt the card and remove it. That makes the files on your SD card just about as secure as the ones on your phone. To encrypt your SD card, go into Settings, Lock screen and security, Encrypt SD card and follow the quick steps.

Once you encrypt the card you must remember that it can no longer be quickly removed and popped in your own computer to transfer files, which can be a hindrance for some. You can't quickly transfer photos off of your card or add a bunch of video or music to listen to on the phone — you'd have to decrypt the card before removing it, then re-encrypt it when it's back in the phone. Security isn't always simple.

You'll benefit from a fast card

Galaxy Note 8 SD card slot

No matter what you're doing with the SD card on your Note 8, you'll see real daily benefit from having a properly fast card in the phone. The faster the card, the quicker your phone can read and write data from and to that card and the smoother everything will be when you're just trying to watch a show you downloaded or open up an app.

There are a whole lot of numbers and classifications involved with SD cards, but a good rule of thumb is to skip over typical class 2, 4 or 6 cards — get a class 10 and you should be happy with its performance. Going a step up to U1 or U3 cards, you'll get an excellent experience.

Good SD cards don't have to be expensive

It is, actually, possible to get an SD card that strikes a good balance between speed, capacity, and cost. Even though you'll see big cheap SD cards and small expensive ones, most people probably shouldn't be tempted by both extremes. Be willing to spend a little bit of money to get a card that will offer solid speeds and hold up over time, and also be willing to get a 128GB card or even just a 64GB card to keep those speeds if you can't justify a top-end 256GB model.

More: Best SD cards for the Galaxy Note 8

For example SanDisk offers a really good 64GB card for about $30 and also a 200GB card for around $75 — see, they don't have to break the bank!

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

36 Comments
  • "skip over typical class 2, 4 or 6 cards" then you link "a really good 64GB card for about $30" , that takes you to a Class 3 (U3) card. Does it not matter if it is a class 3 if it is U3 ?
  • U3 is not class 3. It is Class 10-U3.
  • Correct.
  • Any new information on when UFS cards will be adopted?
  • UFS cards need to hit the market 1st. Samsung announced some last year but we've yet to see any of them. Or devices that support them, for that matter.
  • I'm using the free 256 card samsung gave me hehe it does what I need it to do
  • I know this is about the note8 but I have a 128gig pny sd card in my Moto G4 Play and when I'm downloading stuff to it it makes accessing root explorer and others super duper slow when going thru the SD card. And read and write speeds are horrible. It's rated at 90mB/s and my write speeds can't get past 10 if that on a good day. What's up with that? ****** phone? ****** sd card? Or both?
  • It may be a Moto thing, not sure. My Z play has issues with the SD card if I encrypt it (phone reboots constantly or can't access it) but unencrypted is fine.
  • Wish they would allow users to select adoptable strorage
  • When the Note 7 was recalled, I used a Moto Z Force Droid with adoptable storage and it worked great. I had no problems whatsoever.
  • Amen, brother. I use it on 2 devices and it's a godsend.
  • I wish so too. But Google’s documentation of the feature is really bad, Samsung made up a BS phone performance reason for omitting it, and the technically incompetent Android blogosphere, including AC, swallowed their reasoning whole without any independent testing or evaluation.
  • I believe it should be an option. Personally, the idea of having to format a card every time I buy a new device just seems completely stupid.
  • It's optional on all the devices that have it and isn't enabled by default. Samsung could have done the same thing, but stupidly chose not to, and the ignorant blogosphere excused them for it.
  • What are the specs on the 128 GB card that Samsung offered with the Note 8? Is it fast enough? I haven't received mine yet.
  • The card that ships as a preorder freebie is Samsung's 128GB 2017 U3 card, and it is awesome. It writes at 90MB/s and reads at 100MB/s. I know I'm not the only one to use iTunes on Android. Be sure to select the micro SD card. In iTunes, press settings, download location, select micro SD. An earlier comment who mentioned the 256GB card is wrong. Only the 128GB micro SD card ships as the preorder freebie from Samsung.
  • The 128GB is the freebie for the Note 8. Right now i have the free 256GB card I got for my S7 in my Note 8.
  • Ah ok... Very nice!
  • Pandora for me . I see no reason to line apples pockets but that's just my opinion
  • My Note 8 came with the 256Gb card.
  • Abdrt....not true. https://www.reddit.com/r/samsung/comments/6yqxuc/i_got_a_256gb_micro_sd_...
  • Damn it. How long does this encryption take? It going about 2 min/ 1%.
  • Always depends on the amount of data you have on there. If you have dozens of GB of data, it'll take a while.
  • Then you need to unencrypt it if you choose to swap the card to another device, which will take just as long. Luckily for me, I don't have anything of outside interest.
  • " because Samsung doesn't use the "Adoptable Storage" feature in its phones"
    And, yet, I did exactly that on my S7 Edge.
  • Out of the box or with modifications?
  • No mods, just a few instructions I found online. No root required.
  • That hack isn't officially supported by Samsung and results in incorrect storage capacity reported by the OS. In addition, OEMs that disallow the feature have been patching against the hack.
  • "64GB phone with a 256GB SD card would appear to the system like one big 320GB volume, with no differentiation in where data goes." - Whoever wrote this has never uses adoptable storage before because that's not what happens at all. When you enable adoptable storage (& migrate your data), your entire internal storage is reserved for the system and user installed apps, and data, while all your documents & files are placed on the adopted storage with full read-write permissions. The 2 physical volumes do NOT appear as a single block of storage, nor can they be used as such because you lose non-root access to your physical internal storage. Please get a clue before you write this stuff.
  • What is the theoretical max speed that Samsung has given the MicroSD slot? That would clear up a lot of answers on what users should or shouldn't purchase.
  • Micro SD speed is dependent on the card. You now have a wide range of specs. SanDisk made big news about a month ago with a crazy 400GB storage micro SD card that is also fast. If you record a lot of 4K video, or considering a card for a Samsung Gear VR camera, you absolutely want a premium card. Good news is prices have collapsed, very affordable now. Recently updated, TechRadar has a good review of cards on the market. http://www.techradar.com/news/best-sd-and-microsd-memory-cards
  • Actually I did get the 256 with my note 8 as I was a early pre-order. If you watch most of the note 8 un boxing they all got the 256 on YouTube. my wife's sd card is back ordered. Although I like to think samsung just took care of me for all the Sammy stuff i have registered on my samsung account an the fact that I'm a platinum member
  • In Canada, the SD card on preorder is 128GB.... Clear as can be. The second item is a wireless charger I'll never use. Interestingly (kind of)... The Toyota Tacoma my dad bought last year has a wireless charging storage area under the touch screen stereo center console... Lol, retired, he doesn't own a cell phone. I don't mind a USB cord in my 2015 4Runner... Bluetooth hands free is all that matters. My goodies were shipped by Samsung. I'll let you know if they choose to upgrade the 128GB to 256GB. I preordered through Bell within the first hour it was possible... Was the stores first preorder. LOL... Not holding my breathe on 256GB. I'll sell the wireless charger through local online free classifides. Wireless charging has a place... But c'mon... You can't use a protective case... And if you are within reach of a wall socket with your wireless charger, why would you not rather use a fast charging cord instead and get the recharge done faster, lol.
  • I see the wireless charger as a convenience item. If you have it at work, you can simply place it on the charger and when you need to use it, you simply pull it off. I am not a "power user", so having to charge it while at work doesn't really apply to me, but I do plan on using it to charge overnight, only because I am getting one for pre-ordering the phone. Otherwise, I would never have considered it.
  • The limiting factor in microSD performance is almost always the card and not the reader.
  • My work policy wouldn't let me decrypt it to transfer it from my s8plus to note8. I assumed I would have to xfer the files I wanted to keep to a cloud service first then. Are there other options?