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8 things to know about the Samsung Galaxy S7's SD card slot

While a good number of people will be completely fine with the 32-gigabytes of internal storage on their Galaxy S7, having the ability to pop in an SD card and expand that storage by 200GB more is very appealing. Even large SD cards can be found for a great deal, and the best part is being able to choose later on down the road if you want more storage.

But as is the case with adding external storage to most computing devices, there are lots of things to consider: what can you do with the storage? How does it interact with the system? How reliable and fast is it? We answer these questions, and many more, with the first eight things you need to know about SD cards in the Galaxy S7.

No 'adoptable storage' option to be found here

Galaxy S7 storage screen

Even though the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the phones are missing one of the big features called "adoptable storage" that changes the way SD cards interact with the system. With adoptable storage, the phone can take in an external SD card and make it part of the internal storage from a system standpoint, meaning it perfectly extends the internal storage to create one, larger storage area rather than two separate ones.

But for a number of reasons, Samsung has chosen to keep adoptable storage away from the Galaxy S7. The GS7 uses its SD card just the same as you'd be used to from previous Galaxy phones, in that it's mounted as a separate drive that can't span data across it and the internal storage. The downside is pretty clear, but the upsides are that the card can be removed without any real potential for data damage, and it can also be quickly swapped to another machine for data transfers.

Not every app can be moved to the SD card

Galaxy S7 app to SD card

One of the big reasons folks want to have an SD card is to move apps over to the card and free up internal storage. Unfortunately, you won't be able to move over all of your apps in bulk to the external card.

Being able to move an app to the SD card is a decision to be made on a per-app basis, and some apps just don't allow you to move them even if you want to. Larger apps like games will often let you move them to the SD card, technically, but you'll notice that only a small portion of the app or some of its assets will move — a large chunk of the storage will still be used up on your internal storage.

How many apps you can eventually move to the SD card will depend on which apps you use — just don't count on being able to move too many off the phone. Also remember that if you plan on swapping your SD card out and transferring files from it to a computer or another device, any apps that have moved data to the SD card will be inoperable until you return the card to the phone.

Removing your SD card also removes the SIM

Galaxy S7 SD card and SIM slot

In an effort to simplify things, Samsung uses one slot in the body of the Galaxy S7 to hold a single tray with both the SD card and SIM card in it. Even though you're more likely to want to remove the SD card for data transfers to/from a computer than you will remove your SIM card, in this instance you don't have a choice — removing the SD card is also going to pop out your SIM.

That means if you're going to want to use your phone for calls and data while the SD card is out, you'll have to replace the tray with just the SIM — and then, of course, remove the SIM once again to put the SD card back in the phone. Every time you remove and replace the SIM the phone will take a little bit to re-connect to the network and negotiate things, and in some cases that'll require a reboot of the phone if it's been a while.

Nothing to lose any sleep over, but one to be aware of nonetheless — you may run into a couple small pain points (or simply some waiting) by removing the SIM every time you remove the SD card.

Pictures and video save to the card by default

Galaxy S7 photo storage location

When you put an SD card in your Galaxy S7 or S7 edge, the phone is set up to utilize that extra storage right away. Since you can't move every app to the card, it makes sense to start storing pictures and videos there, and that's just what the GS7 does. The first time you launch the camera app after inserting an SD card you'll get a warning letting you know the fact, and if you don't want photos and videos saved to the card it's a simple switch in the settings.

If you choose to keep with the default and store photos and videos on the SD card, you'll notice that the Gallery creates a separate folder for those images from any previous captures to the internal storage of the phone. The difference is noted by a small depiction of an SD card in the corner of the album, which can be a tad confusing at first. If you don't have any photos on the internal storage you won't notice much difference, but if you put your SD card in after taking a few you'll notice the extra folder right away.

SD card photos may be odd to handle in third-party apps

Galaxy S7 photo storage error

Here's the one downside of storing images and videos from the camera on the SD card: the only sure-fire way to delete those files is from the app that created them, in this case the Samsung Camera and associated Gallery app. If you like to use another gallery app, you may not be able to properly move around and delete photos that are stored on the SD card. For example in Google Photos, and many other popular gallery apps, you'll be able to view and apply extra edits to the photos but you can't delete the original files from within the third-party app.

This becomes particularly bothersome in a cloud-based gallery app like Google Photos where you can delete photos remotely and have those changes sync back to your Galaxy S7 — in this case Google Photos will never be able to delete those local files on your phone, you have to do it manually from within Samsung's Gallery app. If you use another simple gallery app without any cloud functions (and using an older permission model or a workaround) it may be able to manage those SD card photos just fine — but it's something to be aware of if you run into odd behavior when deleting.

You probably don't have to worry about performance

SanDisk extreme SD card

Even though in some cases there are very real concerns when it comes to the speed of external storage, chances are in the situation of adding an SD card to a Galaxy S7 you won't have to worry about hits to performance. Even a moderately new SD card has quick enough speeds to outpace the phone's ability to read/write data, and chances are when you're loading apps, photos and music from the SD card you aren't coming anywhere near the speed limits of the external storage.

The only place to potentially be worried here is when it comes to recording UHD or HDR video, which requires some serious speed from your SD card. Samsung unfortunately doesn't let you choose whether to record to the SD card for just video (it's an all-or-nothing setting), but if you plan to use your phone for its great UHD video recording and want the best possible quality you should consider a top-end card. Be sure to refer to the manufacturers when it comes to its speed ratings for recording video.

Find good deals on cards

The biggest reason to not buy an absolutely bottom-of-the-barrel SD card is that you can get really good cards for a great deal all around the internet. Sure a super-fast 200GB card is going to set you back a few extra dollars, but if you just need to add another 32 or 64GB of storage you can get a great, name-brand SD card for less than $30 and know you're getting a good product that's going to do everything you need.

Use caution when buying the cheapest of the cheap cards out there, and be sure to read the specs and reviews before you buy.

You can encrypt the card for your own safety

Galaxy S7 SD card encryption screen

Your Galaxy S7's internal storage is encrypted by default, but when you pop in an SD card and start putting data on it that card can be read by anyone if they get their hands on it. The way to fix this problem can be found in the "Lock screen and security" settings, where there's an option to fully encrypt your SD card.

After a brief wait to encrypt what data is already on the card, you'll know that it's completely safe from unwanted intruders. Once encrypted, even if the card is physically removed from the phone the contents will never be readable by another device.

This is a huge boost in data security, but of course has usability downsides — you can't use the card to quickly transfer data between devices, and if your phone dies for whatever reason you have no other way to unlock the card and view the data. Those may be things you want to have access to, but making sure your data is locked up tight may be worth more to you.

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

  • Apparently, you can enable adoptable storage via ADB. Not that the average user knows how to use ADB, let alone know what it is and its very existence, but it's something to mention.
  • Don't think I'd ever recommend that somebody does that.
  • It's more of a daring user thing. I used ADB to change the screen density on the LG G4 and it broke some parts of the UI.
  • Definitely.
  • Lol, yep, LG phones tend to do that. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Why would you not recommend it. The Gear VR apps have pretty much filled up my internal storage and I'm looking for away to get more usable space. I'm gonna keep looking till I see if it's worth it or not tho. Also what happen to photo contest? Did I miss something? Posted via the Android Central App
  • TBH it's most likely the fact that attaching photos to the app is broken. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Because there is a risk that you might break something. Also, there doesn't seem to be a way to de-adopt a card from a phone, so unless someone knows of a method to undo it, you're basically tying that card to that specific phone.
  • Which means you better get a high quality one Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • And one that is pretty fast
  • And not be unlucky... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yup Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Maybe there is no way to unadopt with ADB, but if you have adopted storage in the settings you can 'transfer' everything back to internal storage before you reformat the SD card as external storage... Which only works if you have enough internal storage free. If that's ever the case lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • I wouldn't recommend it because there are good reasons Samsung decided to ship the phones without adoptable storage. Adding an SD card can still give you more usable space, as described here, without having to manually flag adoptable storage on. The photo contest is in a little bit of a hiatus right now :)
  • Unfortunately, even with adoptable storage enabled, Gear VR apps still end up saving to the internal memory (that was one of the reasons I tried it). Also, "sm partition 179,1 public" (or whatever disk ID the card is) will de-adopt the card (and break things if you haven't migrated your data back to internal storage first). Posted via the Android Central App
  • II used ABD to expand my Galaxy 7 Edge from 32GB to nearly 230GB through a Sandisk 200 GB microSD. It took me nearly six hours to read, understand and then, though trial and error, make the microSD "adoptable." Not for the faint of heart, but I absolutely need that storage for programs as well as things a non-adopted microSD normally yields (like storage for photos and MP3s). Anyone with patience and a brain can do this. I screwed up three or four times and had to start over, but didn't brick the cell.
  • Please tell me how you did this. I really need to do this as well.
  • As long as there is a command that also disables it I would for sure try it.
  • I don't think there is. So this is a "Do at your own risk" deal.
  • I still wouldn't use adoptable storage, just seems awfully risky if that card hits the hay Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Same here. I've always thought of it as a budget phone thing, since they have pretty low amounts of storage and using an SD card as adoptable storage makes a lot of sense on cheaper phones, especially since they won't have any serious performance drawbacks as their I/O performance is usually lower than flagships. Plus, 128GB for photos and media plus 32GB for my apps is more than plenty.
  • Exactly. And the way I look at it, they just need to be more reasonable with the pricing on the internal storage and this wouldn't even be an issue Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • With this phone for us in the U.S. it is a matter of even offering the 64gb variant.I would have gladly done the upcharge and not even worried about sd cards that can crap out on you out of the blue. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Wouldn't recommend it though. I did it and the phone became very buggy and laggy. Had to undo it.
  • Honestly, I wouldn't do it either. My SD card may be a Class 10 UHS-1 card, but it's still pretty slow compared to the phone's internal storage. I don't think it's worth the potential performance dip and as such, I'll keep using it as a storage medium for media files. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I upgraded from the Turbo 64gb to the S7 Edge. I've had my Edge now for about a week now and purchased the Gear VR too. The Edge is definitely faster than the Turbo,but I'm disappointed to find out about this SD card storage issue. I'm grandfathered in with the Verizons Unlimited Data plan. My 32 gb is 99.9 % full using Gear VR. I also don't like the fact I can't get miracast to work with my Microsoft Wireless Display Adaptor. It tries to connect,but it's a no go. I'm going to Verizon store tomorrow to address these issues. I'm still in the time frame to return the phone. I like the Turbo2,but not happy it's 3gb and 810 processor. Gosh,this sucks!
  • What about how to dismiss the annoying SD card popup notification that has been happening for a lot of people?
  • Swipe it away. I mean, there's no simple way to make sure it doesn't happen. Samsung's having some issues with some phones on the SD card moving around and thinking it was removed/reinserted. The notification then pops up. Not much else can be done right now. Has happened to me a few times, but not super often.
  • I understand you can swipe it away, but this seems like a more serious issue where the card is being dismounted. Haven't heard of a fix other than to just deal with it.
  • And neither have I. Like I said, there isn't anything Samsung could do here other than get rid of the prompt entirely, so you'd never know when the card was accidentally being unmounted, or tighten tolerances in their future manufacturing runs so that the card doesn't umount as easily accidentally.
  • If they tighten tolerances, or should i say, id like for them to do so and send me a new tray that works properly.
  • It's a software issue most likely, I don't see why it couldn't be fixed.
  • Well the only thing that can be fixed in software is not giving you a notification every time an SD card is inserted. Then it could be knocked loose momentarily and re-mounted without you being notified. Either that, or have a middle ground where you have a slight grey area where there's a delay in notifying you after it's been "removed".
  • The problem is that there is a $700-800 MSRP phone that has a serious flaw. Either this is a software flaw that no one has publicly acknowledged that may or may not be being fixed behind closed doors. Or this is a hardware flaw that looks like will only be fixed if you return enough to get a non-flawed phone. Either way, this is unacceptable.
  • That is my issue as well,if it is dismounting the SD card with each reboot,that is a serious problem.I am considering moving everything back over to internal storage and removing the SD card entirely. If I follow that course of action,then I will just have to resign myself to the the fact that I have a 32gb phone for the next year.I still think it was B.S. not to offer the 64gb variant in the U.S.,there is more money to be made in selling overpriced internal storage than cheap SD cards anyway.The whole thing didn't and still doesn't make sense to me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Are you using a Samsung SD card? I only have Samsung's now so not sure if it's still the case, but when I had the note 4 and s5 they never worked right with any card other than a Samsung card and they behaved that exact same way, card inserted, card ejected, regularly when no such thing was done. Quote sure Samsung did that on purpose to increase their SD card sales (worked, I use them now).
  • I use sandisk extreme, but this issue is widely reported with all brands of SD cards,including Samsung.Thank you,though.Maybe this issue is at least partially addressed in the latest update.I don't know about that first hand because Verizon won't get off their dead ass and push the update that T-Mobile users are already benefitting from. Posted via the Android Central App
  • So like a lot of things today, buy this expensive **** that you expect to work properly. We'll take your money, but if something goes wrong, we probaly won't own it. It amazes me that they spend a large amount of time on these devices and something as simple as small clips to hold the SIM and SD cards in place are overlooked. It takes 1 second to realize its flimsy the first time you open that tray and try to put your card in there.
  • I can live with swiping away the notification but this is also often accompanied by a grayed-out icon, and "app not available", for apps installed on the SD card. Restarting the device, or just removing and replacing the icon brings the app back but it's a real pain.
  • The greyed out app will normally self restore,it just takes it a little bit.once again,external storage is not nearly as good as internal storage.Really stupid of Samsung to only offer 32gb in the U.S. and then compound that with poor function of external storage in these devices. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The issue is that the sim tray was manufactured to allow for slight variances in sizes of sd cards. Because of this some cards end up moving just slightly. Albeit slightly enough to enable the warning prompt. Only real options are to try new sd cards, which if you have a larger one s not so easy. You can also put a small piece of tape over the front and side of the sd card. It will stop it from moving so much and typically takes up most of the extra space that is allowing the sd card to move. Not the most ideal fix if you are swapping sd cards out constantly but it works when it has to.
  • I want a phone that works like it is supposed to work. If i send them 99% of my bill, they're coming for the other 1%
  • I didn't think about the issues with combining the SD Card with the SIM tray. Be Together Not The Same
    I'm able to delete photos from the SD card using either QuickPic or File Commander.
    Not sure where you got this from or if you only tested it with Google Photos (which I honestly don't use). But you can definitely manage SD card photos from third-party apps.
  • You reminded me of the kit Kat flustercluck. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Except KitKat had that permissions mess etc.
    But that's been over since 5.0. I have no idea where Andrew got that you couldn't manage SD card photos from third-party apps. Unless he's either using a US carrier-model and the carrier removed that or the US-snapdragon based S7 has different software. Because otherwise, point 5 is completely false on my European carrier-free S7.
  • Replied below. There's a difference between "from my experience it works this way" and "that's completely false" — let's be rational.
  • Well, you also stated it originally as an absolute truth. Which is why I said it's false on my unit. ;)
    Let us know if you find out what's going on there or maybe Jerry can help?
  • Hm that's odd that QuickPic lets you delete files (it shouldn't be able to, per the way permissions should be worked). Perhaps that's a different way they're handling photos? The handful of random gallery apps that I tried, after experiencing this on Google Photos, still wouldn't let me delete photos from the third-party gallery app. Will add a better explanation that not all gallery apps exhibit this issue. Thanks for raising that. Going back to thinking of this further, I wonder if it's a system permissions issue that some apps aren't ready to handle, more so than an actual file permissions issue. I'll try to look into it more.
  • Lemme get a mcpick two lol I'm weird today. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • At your service. Do let us know what you find out, 'cause now I'm intrigued.
  • So I just installed both "A+ Gallery" and "FOTO Gallery": And neither one can manage or delete photos on the SD card. Both throw an error that the SD card is read only, which is how I would expect it to work, because the SD card should be read-only. Both of these apps are targeting Marshmallow with runtime permissions to manage/access photos, which I granted. See what I mean? This isn't something that's limited to Google Photos.
  • So if 3rd party camera/photo apps can't modify the SD card content, is this true with file explorer apps as well? Will you be blocked when trying to delete or move anything on the SD card on marshmallow using Solid Explorer?
  • And now I understand how QuickPic is doing things. Instead of trying to read the SD card in a legit way, they've done a workaround that makes you navigate to the SD card root directory with a built-in file manager that now gives that app permission to read/write on the whole SD card. This of course has the desired effect of letting QuickPic delete photos stored on the SD card, but also just gave QuickPic access to read/write every file on the card. Use at your own risk, and such.
  • Hmm ok, so File Commander is going the same route.
    Tried "Foto Gallery" and it only allows me to manage some things (screenshots, downloaded pictures etc I can delete, photos from the camera I can't). Well, I'm not concerned. Not only I trust both QuickPic and File Commander, I rather have them circumvent Samsung's stupid decisions than going through the hassle of having to go from app to app (maybe if Samsung's Gallery wasn't so poor, I wouldn't need them but, as is...).
    Besides, this was never a real issue before KitKat so I rather not give into paranoia ;)
  • Yeah, I delete stuff using f-stop all the time. I was confused by this one as well.
  • I never had luck using QuickPic to delete files. It brings up the file manager box telling me to click on the SD card to grant it access, but it doesn't work.
  • Swipe left, select SD card, then when it brings you to the SD directory you either select a specific folder or click on the text at the bottom of the main SD page.
  • I can confirm that with Google photos it directs you to gallery. Exactly as in the picture. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I the way I see it most people are not all that interested in moving apps over as they are . To having all that extra storage for all those pictures and videos and movies they down load over the course of the life of the phone. Almost all the apps and games you download can be moved over I've done it . Takes time but no big deal. All the apps that are preloaded Samsung are Google Apps can't but that's okay I can live with that Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah I don't get people ******** about Google Apps being preloaded it's like only a extra 100 megs , if you ask "well what if you have a 8GB phone? Well don't be dumb and buy a 8GB/16GB phone in 2016. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • This! 32 or 64 if available minimum for me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • My wife can settle for the 32gb phones. Myself, I have to have at least 64gb.
  • 8GB phones should be dead by now (should have been since 2013). 16GB upper-end phones should have been in the chopping block 2 years ago. 16GB is the new lower-end to middle baseline option. 32GB is the new upper-end to flagship baseline. And 64GB? Probably the new super high-end baseline.
  • I guess the baseline in the future depends on NAND prices. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • NAND prices seem to be pretty cheap now. LG made 64GB the only internal storage option in the V10. The recently-announced Oppo F1+ also has 64GB as its base. So it's definitely possible.
  • Man LG was sooooo close with the v10 but the software turned me off. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • I'm slowly warming up to the G5 (though the quality issues should still be sorted), but I hope LG delivers BIG with the V10 successor. That phone was awesome. It was big. It was heavy, but man, it was so good. Yeah, the software isn't a looker, but I hope LG considers adding a proper theme engine and a DPI changer in the successor.] Because I'm not a fan of the overusage of the color white throughout the G5's UX.
  • Ya know it's really not the software that absolutely kills it for me honestly, it's the price which doesn't make sense and on a company point of view how late lg was to retail, everyone who wanted a S7 got a S7. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • They're actually really cheap if you look online. My friend got a mint VZW V10 with an extra battery and cradle for around $430. Posted via S7 edge
  • Sorry I mean the g5 Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • And no amoled screen.....ips LCD sucks Posted via the Android Central App
  • I don't have a preference, but given that LG added an always-on display in the G5 via a separate IPS panel, why didn't they just go with an OLED panel, especially since the AOD is pretty dim? Burn-in concerns? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I picture manufacturers going the Apple route for a few years and offering either 16 or 64 knowing most people will buy the 64 upgrade when 32 is enough.
  • hmmm...I have a 128GB card....I guess I am uber uber high end of users.....LG G4
  • Unless you're on a prepaid plan like Virgin or Boost Mobile and the only option is an 8gb phone because that's all they sell and they won't let you BYOD. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile don't only carry 8GB storage phones. They have the S7 with 32GB.
  • Not to mention that Boost lets you BYOD...
  • The S7 doesn't even have a lot of Google Apps pre-loaded that you can't uninstall.
    Besides, the ones you can't, you can always disable them and they return to their factory settings which throw them to KB sizes. The only annoying thing is that, every time they get updated in the Store, the phone will "re-enable" the apps, whether you like it or not.
  • I know right a 16 gigs $500 phone is criminal (you hear me apple ) my gs7 edge had 24 gigs available to me that's more then enough for the pre-installed apps and with my 64 gig card I'm good Posted via the Android Central App
  • I would rather have the sd card space for my music, documents, pictures, etc. I don't think I've moved any of the apps over to my sd card on any of my Samsung phones, excluding the Note 5. (No sd card feature)...
  • And for what it's worth when u move apps to the SD card u know longer can use its widget if the app has one. Or is that a thing of the past Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's not a issue anymore worked on my s5 Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Duly noted Posted via the Android Central App
  • I just moved the flip board app on my S7edge/verizon to external storage and lost the ability to display the widget. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Adopted storage is a joke on smartphones anyways. Sure it's great if you never take pictures, have a music library, or video library on your phone, and play a lot of games or use big apps(tablet users). You'll be sorely disappointed if you're like me and you want to expand storage for videos, music, and photos, but also have some big database apps and games you want to move to the SD card, because it is impossible to have the best of both worlds with 6.0 marshmallow. Google says either you are a gamer or a photo, video, music enthusiast, not both. Oh and Google forbid that anyone is in enterprise, because if you plan to use a lot of big secure apps for enterprise and have some photos and video presentations, email attachments, etc. You are out of luck like me, adopted storage won't accept photos, videos, or email attachments, they all go to internal storage. Even worse, if you format as external storage, none of those big apps can be transferred to the SD card, not even a portion like on the Samsung Galaxy S7. I love adopted storage on my K1 tablet for big games, but it is a nightmare on my Moto X Pure, hopefully Sony follows Samsung when my 16gb Z3 Compact is updated to 6.0 and ditches the adopted storage gimmick. Posted via the Android Central App
  • #1 it's awesome Sammy brought it back #2 can we get the removable battery back please Posted via the Android Central App
  • If you want the S7 design ya ain't getting a removable battery. Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • I always throw a case on so the design could be butt ugly, idgaf. E.g. the s5 on my 2nd line - love that phone! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Problem with moving apps to SD is that a lot of times, the huge obb files aren't moved with them. They stay on internal storage. Thats one reason for adoptable storage. Im not too worried about my SD failing. I have everything important synced to drive. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Does it make make a direct copy of OBB file on the card, or does it just keep it on the internal storage? Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • If you root it (well if there is root) link2sd pro will move obb files to the sd card. That's how I use it on my tablet Posted via the Android Central App
  • No point i