Galaxy S7 regains a microSD card — but shuns adoptable storage

If you're looking for the Galaxy S7 to have expandable storage — that is, for the Galaxy S7 to once again take a microSD card — you're in luck. Samsung's apparently listened to the complaints of the last year (the Galaxy S6 and Note 5 both did away with this feature) and has returned expandable storage to the Galaxy S7 and GS7 edge.

And it's done so smartly — the SIM card tray doubles as the microSD card holder.

But there is a little bit to talk about here. There's expandable storage as we've come to know over the years, and then there are the new expandable storage options in Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Here's what's up with microSD cards and the Galaxy S7.

The long and short of it here is that you're able to use a microSD card on the Galaxy S7 just fine, same as you could in past generations. That means you can pop the card into a computer and load it up with music and videos all you want, then pop it back into the Galaxy S7. You'll have the same file structure we've come to know. It's simple, it's insecure, and it's very much a legacy holdover.

New in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, however — and the Galaxy S7 is launching with Marshmallow — is something called "adoptable storage". That's where a device will take the SD card and format it again using the same sort of structure and permissions as your internal storage. It "adopts" those same features. And so instead of seeing internal and external storage, your phone or tablet or whatever sees it all as a single, larger block of storage. And adoptable storage is more secure because of this. The card that's been formatted for adoptable storage is encrypted and will only work in the device that created it.

Samsung, however, has opted to not use adoptable storage in the Galaxy S7.

Samsung, however, has opted to not use adoptable storage in the Galaxy S7. One reason, Samsung tells us, is that it's still confusing to most consumers. A removable card that's not usable anywhere else after you remove it sort of doesn't make sense, right? We could see where that would be confusing.

But it's also sort of against Google's expressed recommendation for adoptable storage. To wit:

Only external storage media in stable locations, such as a slot inside a battery compartment or behind a protective cover, should be considered for adoption to help avoid accidental data loss or corruption.

So Google says if you've got a microSD card tucked inside the battery compartment — or in the SIM tray, which presumably is even more stable — then you should be good to go for adoptable storage. But read the rest of the adoptable storage specs — particularly where it cautions against using things like USB sticks that can be easily removed — and you get the sense that the spec was written more with location and accidental removal in mind, and less for how a typical consumer treats a long-used piece of removable media.

The flip side of this is that in a good many markets — and specifically those of us in the U.S., Samsung told us ahead of the phone's launch — the Galaxy S7 will come only with 32 gigabytes of internal storage. (We'll keep an ear out for any changes now that the GS7 is officially official.) For some of us that presents the perfect case for adoptable storage. But in any case it's moot — we'll be using microSD cards on the Galaxy S7 just as we always did.

Phil Nickinson
  • Same as the G5 Posted via LG H815
  • Can someone please enlighten me on what exactly "adoptable storage" is? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Read the article much? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Be a dick much? Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Oh, come on. Don't be That Guy! Posted via the Android Central App
  • In a nutshell: microSD card you put into the phone will be "combined" with internal storage, so it looks like you've magically got a larger internal storage. Which is great...if you never take out the microSD card ever again.
  • Pretty simple, yet pretty limited, yet pretty secure, yet pretty confusing to many. It's just different. That should clear it up, eh? Would be nice if it could be encrypted to a limited group of devices chosen by the user. The phone, a camera, a PC etc.
  • OMG, this article explained it quite clearly. The article wasn't long-winded at all so I just can't understand why you would scroll down to post such a question. What's worse is that someone actually posted a link to another article that explains what it is when all they had to do was tell you to scroll up and read the article. You may as well have asked "Can somebody please tell me what this article is about"
  • Adoptable storage, like mentioned in the video, is when your phone or tablet adopts a storage device into the rest of the storage. So, for example, if you had a 16gb phone with a 64gb SD card with adoptable storage it would feel like you had 80gb of storage on your phone and for the most part you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the microSD card and your internal storage.
  • Mainly because most customers would opt to use SD cards that are slow and then when the apps they put on the cards are slow to open or they force close people will blame Samsung. I wouldn't use adoptable storage either if I was them Posted via the Android Central App
  • Some users being dumb isn't a reason to keep a useful feature from users who know what they're doing. Slap a warning popup on it and give it to us anyway.
  • Put it in the Developer menu for instance. Only power users ever go in there, so it should prevent "ignorant consumers" from using it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sigh... Welp here's hoping Sony unveils a new phone Posted via the Android Central App
  • I can see them backing off the mobile sector. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Sony will release a flip phone running Jelly Bean for $600. Google Nexus 6P
  • 32gb only = no sale. Very sad. Posted via Android Central App
  • Yeah - that's my only gripe. Memory can't be that expensive... I don't need 128 but I can certainly live with 64g's with no issues. 32 and I have to be prioritzed on my items... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Wow lame Samsung Posted via my glorious Nexus 6P
  • I've lived without expandable storage with the Nexus phones and have lived perfectly finw without it. The cards can fail, slow and most people ... ie consumers just don't know how to use it. I'd rather just have a larger 64 or 128 gb phones and be done with it.
  • It's true. For the everyday smartphone owner, an SD card is just confusing to them. I have a friend who told me about his new Galaxy Note. He loved it and said I oughta check it out because it has this feature called "Simple Mode" where everything you use is right on 1 screen with about 10 huge icons. Can't get confused if you tried. LOL. A successful businessman he is. But, has not a clue as to the power that he holds in his hand. Most of us would scoff or laugh at this. But Apple is killing it by winning those customers. While us power users and techies are scratching our heads in disbelief.
  • I love adoptable storage, it is not difficult. You plug in a micro SD card, then you go into settings and select adoptable storage. You get a warning about your files being encrypted and unusable with other devices. After that everything seems the same as the legacy SD card option. The only difference is your apps take up very little space. If in the unlikely event the SD card becomes corrupt or fails, it is unlikely any of your critical data will be lost if you keep it on the internal drive. Any app data that is lost is non specific and can be re-downloaded from the Play store. Posted via the Android Central App on the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
  • Damn. Don't blame Samsung for this. But this might kill the adoptable storage feature in future Android updates. They are completely right that an average user might mess up their phone doing it. Really though if every single app let you save or move to micro SD (some do) and vudu and Google play movies, comixology and others let you save to SD adoptable storage wouldn't matter to much as me. I'm hoping there is at least a 64 GB version. Now that I have my nexus 6 I know that I can never go back to 32 GB. But really glad they brought the SD card back Posted via the Android Central App
  • I would put Cyanogenmod onto that to gain adoptable storage. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Gawd I hate when all of these companies use the lowest common denominator logic in these choices. 90% of our customers are idiots so we have to cater to them. I mean damn is it a crime to want 128 gigabytes along with a micro SD slot on anything that isn't a zen phone? And for that matter what happened to MHL? Posted via the Android Central App
  • How do you NOT have larger storage options? Posted via the Android Central App
  • As long as I can keep a local backup of app data like the good ol' days, I'm good.
  • Return of the SD card makes me very happy. Was long ready for an upgrade when the S6 came along. I skipped it and kept plugging along with my beat up S4 mainly because of no SD slot on the then latest and greatest. I like that the S7 is not adaptable storage. Let's me use the card the way I want to. I'm ordering this week.
  • Even if a device supports adoptable storage, there is nothing forcing one to use it. My Moto X Pure Edition 64GB supports adoptable storage, but I don't use it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The heck? Adoptable storage isn't mandatory. You get to choose whether to use it and get a bunch of warnings before hand. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Adoptable storage will be a galaxy S8 feature.
  • Could Samsung enable adoptable storage through a software update later?
  • Yes, but unless there is vehement and vocal feedback to it being left out, it's far less likely.
  • There is no reason why they could not, but they have omitted it for a reason. Their reasoning would have to change. I do not see them suddenly changing their minds and completely changing how their customers are used to using their phones after the phone is already purchased. It would be a PR and consistency problem Posted via the Android Central App
  • Most users wouldn't use Adoptable Storage. But slipping it in an update and saying, "Hey, if you know what this is and what you should and shouldn't do with this, go ahead".
  • Fantastic. I hate the adoptable storage on my dad's MotoG3. He is upset to the point that he's selling the phone, which is dad cause he loved his G2 as well. Samsung is right on this one.
  • A shame they do not let the consumers make the choice for themselves..... Not all of the general public are that easily confused, and if so maybe they need a different phone...
  • Adoptable storage is a option not a obligation!!!! WTF Samsung!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Cloud storage, unlimited data.... What all this fuss about internal storage. Personally a micro usb storage stick does just fine, and 32gb is more than enough for gaming and other apps. So if anyone is still torrenting their songs and physically loading them on to their phones (same for movies) like caveman step into the new age. Or hey how about another novel idea, find some phone that will cater to your needs and stop complaining, you'll live longer.
  • Cloud storage is useless if you find yourself with no signal. Plus there's lots of people that don't like the idea of their data being stored on servers that could potentially be hacked (doesn't concern me personally). And not everybody has unlimited data either! So cloud storage is not the perfect solution that you make it out to be. But I agree that there's lots of choice out there, so no need for people to complain, just find a phone that DOES have what they need. Other manufacturers do exist, not just Samsung! Posted via the Android Central App
  • For someone, like me, who likes virtual reality with Samsung's own VR headset, how does the Cloud help me store those 500 mb VR "experiences"?
  • Yes, and those 2GB games that are getting popular can be stored in the cloud too :D /s Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sigh, how else are they going to get you to buy the 64gb version lol. I kid. They still should have left it, they could have implemented a software that let's user know that the SD card now is part of the internal memory and removing it will harm the phone. Just like they did with cover port on the s5 when you remove the charger that annoying pop up that tells you to close the port properly. Posted via the Android Central App
  • What is the highest capacity Micro SD card the S7 can use?
  • 200GB.
  • Such a huge disappointment....Samsung is apparently not allowing adoptable storage, meaning that everyone in Europe will be stuck with 32 gb minus whatever is reserved for the OS. Well, I was very close to buying my first ever Samsung phone.
  • OK. Samsung will not have adoptive storage, which means you can pull the SD card in and out of your S7 and computer and store music and videos on the SD card. Does that mean you can't store apps on the SD card, and that you're limited to whatever the app storage limit is for the 32GB version of the S7? If that is the case, what is the storage set aside for apps in the S7? My old phone has 32GB of storage, with only 7.5GB for apps, which I used up 6 months ago. I'd like more room for app storage!
  • Are you absolutely sure they won't be offering the option of adoptable storage? I believe I read the opposite yesterday. But of course I don't remember where.
  • Having adequate storage for apps is a much bigger concern for many, than having storage space for photos, music, and videos. Considering that you don't actually get the full 32 GB out of the box, this doesn't seem to be the best idea Samsung's come up with. Meeting somewhere in the middle would've been great: give us a base storage of 64 GB with a microSD slot, since they're just offering one GB option in some markets. I know that, in turn, would've made the GS7 slightly more expensive for consumers, but this 32 GB thing is, for me, screwing up an otherwise perfect device that I was ready to spend the money on. I'm holding back now. Lol
  • This is what I would like to know as well. I have the 16 GB S5 and a 64 GB card and I store my apps on the card. Yes, I have to manually move them, but that's no big deal. Will that be possible on the S7, because if apps don't work from the card, it's basically worthless.
  • This is really disappointing - I was about to pre-order. 32GB just isn't enough for an $800 flagship phone. I guess I'll wait and see if Sam follows on with more options and/or support for adoptable storage. If I had to choose between reasonably sized internal storage options (32/64/128GB) and adoptable storage, I guess I would have chosen the former - but we get neither. Maybe I will just give in and get a Nexus. :(
  • Really Samsung? Just shove the option into the Developer options, or similar, if you're worried about idiots. Most people won't touch anything in there, if they even know the hidden menu exists. Most people that would use Adoptable Storage are familiar with the Developer menu anyway. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Exactly what I was thinking. I hope they put it in the developer options.
  • "And it's done so smartly — the SIM card tray doubles as the microSD card holder." I think this is not a very "smart" comment. I think the crux of the whole issue comes down to this. Users are saying that if you have Adoptable Storage enabled on a memory card, if you remove that card from the phone (even if the phone was completely off when you removed the tray and put it back in) once the phone boots up it asks you if you want to reformat the card, meaning it has no ability to read the data on that card anymore. You can see where this is going. Since the simcard and the memory card are on the same tray, if the user needs to remove or replace the simcard they will also destroy the data on the memory card, regardless of having the phone off the entire time during replacement. This, I think, is a collective stuff up between Google (for the way Adoptable Storage works) and manufacturers (Samsung and LG, for putting the simcard and memory card "smartly" on the same tray).
  • Is this because the SD card would have been re-inserted? I never realized Android works this way - I guess because I haven't had a phone with a combo tray like this.
  • Why is the sdcard limited / restricted to 200GB instead of the 2TB SDXC standard ? The LG G5 seems to be able to handle up to 2TB. So there is no way to use a 512GB card. A bit of a bummer for such an expensive high end model.
  • With the size of games and apps these days 32 gigs without any other options doesn't cut it for a high end device. I think this lack of storage is one of the few genuine weaknesses of the gs7 especially with the new high end gaming features. This issue will be even more problematic in 12 or 24 months time, with new high end games Posted via Android Central App
  • you can move most things, including games to the sd card without making it adoptable storage
  • Actually for the bigger games that require an extra file download, only the app part of the game can be installed to the SD card but the large extra download file part which is the biggest part of the game (1 to 3 gigs) CANNOT be moved to the SD card. This is an issue most people are not aware of.
  • You may well be right, I haven't come across this yet, however I am not into mobile phone games so much. There is a workaround now apparently, whereby it is possible to change the sd card into adoptable storage on the S7. I briefly flirted with it before deciding it probably wasn't for me.
  • Ok, so just testing out your theory, I downloaded the bards tale, that does, as you say require a further 1.7-2gb additional download depending on whether you want hd graphics or not. Guess what? It immediately gave me the option of where I wanted to store this, including the option to store on the (non-adopted) sd card. Intriguing eh?
  • Thanks David. I appreciate your effort to test this out as im keen to find an answer. My theory was only based only on what i had read online. Its possible that the ability to add the extra download file could vary from game to game or it might be the rare exception thats not allowed on the SD, who knows. Actually a friend of mine just got a gs7 edge, i might just ask him to do some testing on various games. Ill report back soon.
  • I'm not buying this excuse from Samsung. Why not hide the adoptable storage option deep in the settings so that only knowledgeable people will access it. This is common practice for potentially risky features. Posted via Android Central App
  • It's exactly the way it should be. 32GB internal and I can add a SD Card for file storage.
  • Why would anybody want to use adoptable storage?
    Why would you want to spend $99 for a 200 megabyte micro SD card in your new current phone i.e. the S7. You have to remember people it can only be used in that phone if you upgrade your phone witch everbody does your SD card becomes useless.
    I made the mistake of locking my SD card to one of my old Galaxy Note 4's and there was no way to rewrite it or even reformat it, totally became useless I couldn't even download the stuff to my laptop.
    Samsung is making the right move by allowing us to have removable storage that is not locked to one specific device
  • I'm only now seeing this. This is the only thing that i can see i won't like about the new galaxy s7s. I don't understand why.
  • I'm only now seeing this. This is the only thing that i can see i won't like about the new galaxy s7s. I don't understand why. It would be fine if adoptable storage was an option. Either way still getting the s7 edge.
  • looks awesome!
  • Is it even worth to buy a S7, or should I rather wait for the S8 or Project Ara? A free one would be nice though ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
  • I don't get it. Why is everyone so hell bent on getting adoptable storage? As far as I can see there's not a lot of benefit in it. Using the sd card as legacy removeable storage allows you to take it out and use it with other phones/PC/TV's etc. Using it in the S7 itself still allows you to use it for most storage hungry media - most apps, games, video, music and picture files will quite happily move to sd storage. The Google music app, whilst not allowing itself to be moved to the sd card, allows storage of any downloaded media to the sd card. The phone itself will detect an inserted sd card and immediatey give the option of storing photo/video media on it. This then still retains the option to remove/replace the sd card without causing issues with the phone or the sd card itself. I really don't get the rage over the non adoptable storage issue.