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Top things you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S8's SD card slot

After a short blip with the Galaxy S6 series, Samsung is back to making a microSD card slot one of its core tenets. The Galaxy S8 and S8+ have an SD card slot that lets users choose just how much storage they want to add, even though fewer people will need one with the new higher default storage of 64GB internally.

Whether you've already purchased and installed your microSD card or are trying to learn a bit more about them before getting one, we have you covered. Here's what you need to know about the microSD card slot on the Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Adoptable storage isn't here — and that's OK for most people

Sticking with its legacy of devices, Samsung is continuing to use the SD card as removable storage rather than the newer "adoptable storage" system. What that means is that instead of integrating the SD card into the internal storage, it remains its own separate volume. You have to choose to put a file either on the SD card or the internal storage — it won't be able to span the two seamlessly, which takes a bit more management.

In practice, this has the benefit of being more familiar to those who used SD cards in previous Samsung phones or have used them typically with computers or cameras. You can remove the SD card from a Galaxy S8 freely without worrying about how it will affect the system, because you only lose the data files on the card. You can pop out the card, put it in your computer and transfer files to and from it, then put it back in the phone with no worries.

Not every app can be moved to the SD card

Galaxy S8 app to SD card

One of the downsides of using the SD card as removable storage rather than adoptable storage is that there are limitations on what files can be moved. For the most part, you can think of the SD card as a place to store big chunks of data, not live applications that you need to access regularly.

You can have photos, music, videos, podcasts, and documents all stored on your SD card without issue, and those are great ways to free up space on the faster, more versatile internal storage. But you won't be able to move most apps or games to the SD card, as they need to be on the internal storage in order to run. You may find that some simple apps or assets for apps that don't need to be run on demand can be stored on the card — but as a rule, you shouldn't count on being able to move apps to the SD card.

Pictures and video save to the card by default

Because the types of data you can put on an SD card are limited, the Galaxy S8 wants to take advantage of it automatically for types of data it knows it can move there. The best example is the camera, which automatically starts saving photos and videos to the SD card as soon as you insert one. You'll get an alert the first time you open the camera after inserting a card that burst shots will still save to the internal storage, though.

If, for whatever reason, you don't want photos and videos to save to the SD card, you can head into the camera's settings, then storage location, and tap it to change back to device.

It's worth mentioning that Samsung has worked out one of the more annoying issues with storing photos on the SD card in that you can now use other gallery apps — like Google Photos — to manage those photos stored externally. Simply give the gallery app of your choice permission to access your SD card, and you'll be able to delete, edit, and move photos on the SD card with that app instead of relying on Samsung's Gallery.

With a good card, you don't have to worry about performance

One great thing that's happened in the world of SD cards (well, all storage really) in the past couple years is the proliferation of amazingly fast cards at reasonable prices that anyone can manage. Earlier on in the life of Android phones, it was rather hit or miss as to whether or not the card you bought was fast enough to consistently be used inside an Android phone, and now that's rarely the case.

Stick to big brands and look at ratings online before buying, but chances are if you find a modern card out there it's going to do what you need it to do in a Galaxy S8.

More: Best microSD cards for the Galaxy S8

Where to find good SD cards

A rising tide of storage quality has lifted all boats, but that doesn't mean every card is created perfectly equal. You still want to make a well-educated decision about the SD card you buy. There are so many available out there and many places to buy, but we've narrowed down a few for you to choose from if you want to let us do some of the hard work for you.

Removing your SD card also removes the SIM

It's a small thing, but you should remember that your SD card lives in the same tray as your SIM card. So if you plan on using the removable storage capabilities of your SD card for transferring files back and forth with a computer, you're going to knock out your cellular service while you do it.

In some cases, removing the SIM card and reinserting it will require a full device reboot to get your mobile data back up and running. If you can't manage to wait a few minutes without data, pull out your SD card at a different time!

You can encrypt your SD card for your safety

Galaxy S8 SD card encryption

One of the other small downsides of an easily removable SD card that's formatted as removable storage is the data on there can be easily accessed by anyone with a SIM tray tool — they don't even have to unlock your phone to get it. Of course, the best way to secure your phone is to not let anyone have it in the first place, but accidents happen — and the best way to secure the data is to encrypt the card. With encryption enabled, the data is only readable by the Galaxy S8 that encrypted it and only when the phone is unlocked.

To encrypt your SD card, head into the phone's settings, lock screen and security, and encrypt SD card. The process will only take a few seconds if you don't have much data on it, but it could take a while longer if you've already loaded it up before encrypting.

Now, there's one big downside to this: when you encrypt the SD card, it also can't be read by your other devices. That means that if you pop out the SD card and put it in your computer, the computer won't be able to read the data. It also means if you break your phone beyond repair, you will lose the SD card data forever. If your intention is to use the SD card in your Galaxy S8 as a quick way to transfer large amounts of data between devices, you'll have to use a USB cable from your phone or decrypt the card first.

Update July 2018: Updated with the latest information on using an SD card in your Galaxy S8 after the Oreo software update.

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

32 Comments
  • Took me 10+ minutes to get my sd card installed. The tray is so thin, so just when I would get get the sd card in, the sim card would pop out. Frustrating but done.
  • and it seemed like a tight fit for the sd card, i tried two different Samsung cards, both seem to snap in
  • Anyone knows how to transfer the downloaded music from google play to the SD card?
  • Are you talking about Google Play Music? There's an option in the settings to move stuff to SD card.
  • When I encrypt my SD card, the phone insists on displaying an SD icon and notification to tell me it's encrypted. Constantly. Can't make it go away. Is there any way to mute or get rid of that pointless notification?
  • Tap on it and it'll go away until next reboot
  • You also need to remember that if you encrypt the MicroSD card and the card (as opposed to the phone) then fails, you won't be able to retrieve or rescue any of the data on it, even using specialist software or card rescue services, since the encryption can't be removed other than in the device that encrypted the card in the first place, and if the device can no longer read or recognise the card because it has failed, you're stuffed. This happened to me and over 30GB of data - photos, documents, spreadsheets, pdfs, music, sound recordings - all got lost. The moral of the story is - if you use an encrypted card (or even a non-encrypted one) back-up regularly to a cloud storage facility, PC or external HD or similar.
  • Lol, you should do that even if your card isn't encrypted. I'm sorry for your loss though.
  • I still use AppWereRabbit ( https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.anrdoezrs.net%2F... ) for SD card management with moving things to and from the card. I have never had a problem with it through three different Galaxy versions. It works quietly in the background and flawlessly.
  • "an SD card slot that lets users choose just how much storage they want to add, even though fewer people will need one with the new higher default storage of 64GB internally." Really?...i feel like 64GB internal is kinda small still - even with just system and apps on it....then you take a few hi-res videos, download some VR games, and load some music on there, and bam - you're internal storage could get full really quick.
    Was just surprised at this comment, because I feel like an SD card is a pretty standard thing still.
  • While many people will want more than 64GB, the industry standard for base storage is still 32GB nowadays and that's plenty for most people.
  • And, there's really no reason to keep music and movies on the internal storage. I prefer having the internal storage less cluttered.
  • So is this in response to the restarting / SD card issue that is ongoing?
  • Question. I'm coming from a Lumia 950 that I had SD card in, and basically just stored photos, videos, and some files on it. If I take it out of that phone and put it in here, will I have to reformat, or will the S8 recognize the file structure already? I know I can just take the files off the card before trying, to make sure I don't lose anything, I just haven't had the time yet. Thanks!
  • its like plugging a flash drive into different computers, it will recognize it. As long as the sd card isn't encrypted though, i swap my sd card between phones all the time.
  • Thanks! I actually gave this a shot right before you responded here and it worked great. I copied everything off of it just in case, but everything showed up right away
  • Thank goodness I have separate sim, and sdcard slots, thank you honor.
  • Yeah because that's a real deal breaker, right?....
  • When will it support UFS cards? With the s9?
  • You'd think it'd be coming soon. But I hear no specifics about it.
  • LOL, just like Samsung was so quick to switch to USB-C! I'm sure they'll wait for others to switch first.
  • Why would would they wait, when Samsung owns most of the UFS patents? for example: https://www.google.com/patents/US9459687 https://www.google.com/patents/US20130097460
  • Remember when OEMs thought SD cards were a thing of the past? Oops.
  • "Where to find good SD cards" Ebay. Lots of fake cards for all your needs! XD
  • My new Samsung EVO 128GB card is due to arrive at my door tomorrow from Amazon! Whoop. I'm wondering if there is a way to automatically move all of my pictures, Google Play music and other data to the card. I'd ideally like to have my apps in the internal memory and my data on the card.
  • Just copy (do *NOT* move) and paste to the card using My files or a third-party file manager. Delete the files from internal data after everything's been copied to your satisfaction.
  • I kept the Samsung 256gb card from my Note 7. This thing has almost endless room now.
  • Hate encrypting SD card. Hate one go corrupt and then I forgot to deencrypt a card one time before I reset a phone. The SD card is for apps and music, pics go on the phone till I'm ready to move them.
  • One thing to mention is that for certain photo and video modes the S8 will write to internal storage instead of SD card, because the internal storage writes faster. I've had this happen when taking burst shots, and you get a little message telling you that it's writing to internal storage.
  • I miss my Windows Phone, where every app could be moved to the external storage without this all-or-nothing "adoptable storage" nonsense that breaks your phone if you remove the SD card.
  • I wish Google would draw a line in the sand and say no more moving apps on modern devices. Minimum storage is becoming 16gb these days. My old Moto G1 could hold 5gb of apps, and the days of low end HTC's with not much more than 1gb of app storage are numbered. I understand people on limited funds and with older devices, who also are game fiends need this Move to Card facility and that can continue on those devices. Google should also have OEM's not limit internal app storage, or at least allow a high percentage.
  • No adoptable storage = I'm not buying this POS.