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How to decide which Galaxy S21 storage size to buy

Samsung Galaxy S21 Sim Card
Samsung Galaxy S21 Sim Card (Image credit: Android Central)

Best answer: The base 128GB of storage on all three Galaxy S21 models should be great for most users. Unless you shoot tons of 4K video or download every movie and show you watch, skip the extra $150 and spend that money on a wireless charger and a better pair of headphones.

No microSD card? No problem!

This isn't a popular opinion, but I'm actually a glad that the Samsung Galaxy S21 doesn't have a microSD slot. Don't get me wrong, having the option for expandable storage is always a plus and it means that you don't have to worry as much about storage upfront because you can always add more later. It sounds useful, so why would Samsung ever take that option away from one of the best Android phones on the market?

The answer: Because even the best microSD cards are slower than the internal storage on a Galaxy flagship. They can cause five kinds of problems with how apps perform whenever data is offloaded to SD, and let's not even bring up how they can get corrupted.

In any event, it's gone, so buy the storage that you need when you buy the phone because you can't get more later! And if you're stressing about picking the right amount, I've got a nice handy little quiz for you to take.

Samsung Storage Survey:

  • Do you shoot lots of 4K video every week in remote locations?
  • Do you download every document and data file you own, just in case?
  • Do you keep an offline video library to entertain your young child so they don't annihilate your cell phone bill?
  • Do you have a deep-seated distrust of the cloud or store everything locally?
  • Are you prone to long periods of international travel where you'll be reliant on downloaded content?
  • Are you insistent upon have top-of-the-line specs in every way possible?

If the answer to most or all of these questions is no, just buy the 128GB model of whichever size Galaxy S21 you like. 128GB is enough to download over 1,500 songs in high quality, store hours of 4K footage, download over 150 apps, and still have plenty room left over for a few offline movies during trips.

Do you need more? 256GB or 512GB?

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

If you are sure you need more than 128GB, now you have a choice — or at least, you have a choice if you're getting the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The Galaxy S21 and S21+ come with either 128GB of storage or 256GB while the S21 Ultra has an extra 512GB option. If you need more than 128GB and you don't want to pay $1,379 for the 512GB Ultra, 256GB is your only option.

That price for the 512GB Samsung Galaxy Ultra sound exceedingly steep considering you can get a 512 Samsung Evo Select microSD card for $65 (opens in new tab). Just remember that getting 512GB of internal storage means that you can hold hundreds of films, hundreds of thousands of songs, or hold pretty much your entire digital life. Only get that much when you know you'll need it.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.