If you take a look on Amazon right now you’ll see that you can buy a 32GB microSDHC for under $20. You can get a 16GB card for under $10. An 8GB card is even less than that. So why are we paying so much extra for on-board storage in our tablets?

The 16GB version of the Nexus 7 costs $50 more than the 8GB version.

The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD is $199 for the 16GB version and $249 for the 32GB version. If we jump up to the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD then it is $299 for the 16GB version and $369 for the 32GB version. For the top of the line 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE you’ll pay $499 for the 32GB version and $599 for the 64GB version.

If you think those markups are extreme just wait for the iPad. The 16GB iPad costs $500, but you’ll pay $600 for the 32GB model and $700 for a 64GB model.

If you’re wondering why none of these devices has a microSD card slot then your answer is clear to see. Just to really rub it in, the price of Flash storage is actually dropping. An analyst at RBC Capital Markets estimated that the memory that Amazon uses costs about 70 cents a gigabyte, while Apple’s memory costs about 40 cents a gigabyte. So 16GB costs Amazon about $11.20 and it costs Apple about $6.40.

Apple does exactly the same thing with the iPhone. The higher the storage, the more you’ll pay, and the more profit Apple makes proportionately. Basically, it seems as if it is viewed, by the aforementioned, as a convenience fee to get a higher amount of storage at an increasingly higher cost per gigabyte.

It’s a straight rip off, pure and simple. Anyone disagree? Sound off in the comments.


Simon Hill
Simon is an experienced tech writer with a background in game development. He writes for various websites and magazines about the world of tech and entertainment. He uses Android every day and is currently permanently attached to his Galaxy Note 5.
  • tomn1ce

    I have always wonder why they charge $50 more for a device that comes with 16GB compared to a device that comes with 8GB of internal storage…It’s clearly a rip off and cloud service does not help one bit with the prices that the wireless companies are charging…

  • this is not a gentleman !!!

  • iPad prices have remained the same as they were 4 years ago. Flash storage has become significantly cheaper since then. Right now its just highway robbery. (apple and android devices alike)

    • Cole Raney

      The ipad came out 2 years ago.

  • sainath naidu

    I heard that the speed is more when its internal(on-board) and the external sd cards are very much delicate and very few people can unmount and mount the sd card i guess

  • wecramer

    just like food at the movie theatre. you pay A LOT MORE purely for convenience.

    • tBs_Battousai

      And you can’t take your own so it’s pay their prices or don’t eat…

  • LorDarkGoose

    You tell ’em Simon!

  • Truth & Fists

    Robbery, period.

  • yeah all that crap pisses me off ! i would tend to always go with the GB amount thats in the middle ..8-16-32 i buy 16…
    16-32-64 i buy 32…
    my galaxy nexus(phone) had 2 options 16-32 , i went with 32 =)

  • raindog469

    This is just one of the many things that blow my mind about tablets. When PCs took off as a mass market consumer product 20 years ago, companies were using their expandability as a selling point. You could add whatever storage you wanted, you could buy machines with 8 expansion slots, 7 disk drive bays, six RAM slots, and a partridge in a pear tree….

    And now we have people defending manufacturers for removing expandability and even locking down bootloaders so we can’t get root, because having root on the equipment you own is now considered “dangerous”. Even on some Android sites.

    Have we really become that dim? To not only accept higher prices, less choice and less control, but argue in favor of that trend?

    • Abir

      True, rather than people becoming technologically aware we are going backwards. Its a shame for the human race on the whole really

  • Barney

    They charge that much because people will pay that much. Money is only worth what someone thinks it’s worth. Apparently many people would rather have the extra memory than the extra money. I don’t happen to be one of those people, but that doesn’t make the price a “rip off.”

  • Julie Drake

    Someone e makes a lot of money. I hadn’t realised it had co.e down so much, 2 month ago I paid £54 for 32gb now it’s £13.

  • It is a rip off. I think 32 gb is a comfortable amount of memory on a device for me but some companies try and add $50-$100 more to the price. I want the galaxy note 2. I hope it comes with a 32 gb model.

    • kkjdroid

      The Note 2 should have an SD reader, probably for up to 64GB MicroSDXC cards (~$40 on Amazon). The Galaxy S2 and S3 certainly do.

  • BoGoWo

    ‘ripOff’ is too simple a term; it happens to be their (Apple/Amazon) way of doing business; trickleUpWealth!
    Anyone who deals with either company is……….’stupid’!

  • Roberto Tomás

    These things are (or aught to be) using mSATA SSDs anyway. SD card readers are cheap USB devices, don’t let that get in your way!

  • We are suckers plain and simple. We will pay an extra $100.00 for something that we know only costs $5.00 be cause we just gotta have that tablet. We, the customers, are condoning and encouraging this pricing.

  • EdDereDdE LavaL

    Same fuck up ripp-off in Germany and Switzerland
    Fuck it – I accept it that Google tries to compensate on the “losses” for the 8 GB version …
    BUT: Amazon or the fucked up fruit are just ripping off all of us.

  • rsanchez1

    It is absolutely a ripoff that we should have to pay more than $20 to go up the next tier in storage.

  • Alex81

    Wow, lots of rage. Why not just buy a device with a microSD card slot instead of getting all mad? Both my Samsung mobile devices have microSD slots and I know they aren’t the only brand that do. Just look around at the alternatives available to you and take a deep breath.

    • sabre_springs_mark

      Google Nexus 4 is a really cool phone except for the memory issue. It is definitely a matter of weighing the extra features of the phone vs the reasonable cost – vs getting a pricier phone with similar features that has an SD card. the Nexus 4 is what led me to this article in the first place. I can’t plop down $350 -$500 for a toy very often, so it is a bit of a wrenching decision for me.

  • thats why I built a 2TB network attached storage computer. I can universally access it with my Android phone, Windows Tab, Laptop, Desktop, and TV. If I need to take any data with me, I can put it on the device as I have room (all the big movies and music are stored on this computer). SD slots and expandable storage is great, but sometimes its not practical to carry 4 movies and 12 hours of offline music in your pocket.
    For plus, I also have all the files accessible through a web browser on the go, so i can download any file I forget.

    • Ben Bettridge

      Which is fantastic if you have unlimited data, or a large-ish quota. It fails miserably when you don’t, or have unstable network access.

      • I’m on or near WiFi 90+% of the time, and I don’t download very often.

  • Condy

    It can’t possibly be robbery or a straight rip off if people are willing to buy the product. The smart thing that they do is to actually get you to believe that you NEED one. Lolz. The joke’s on us.

  • Ahmet

    I think it is not about profitability it is about tech difference. The higher capacity is about more advanced designs, more R&D costs and new tooling to built new devices. It is not about just simple putting another memory cell to memory unit and selling this.

    • Chris

      I really have to call BS here. There is almost zero R&D that goes into the increased capacity. The devices are all designed with the largest storage option in mind. Then, they simply install less chips on the motherboard to make models with less storage.

      I’d bet, dollars to munchkins, that some of the motherboards even still have the wiring in the PCB for the additional flash modules! You could probably solder them on yourselves if you could get hold of the chips.

      • Ahmet

        Why speaking like an impolite person? Do you now SD card slots are same size. If you want to store more data you dont have an option to expand slot area. Do you understand what I mean? Size is same but tech must be more advanced to store 2X data on the same space..

        • sabre_springs_mark

          ” tech must be more advanced to store 2X data on the same space..”

          Subtley at best. In fact there is a prime price range and if you go too high or too low the cost will be higher for you. If 16 gigs is prime – buying 2 8 gigs would cost you more.

          You do have a point about including the SD card slot – it may add to size and cost in ways that just adding memory inside doesn’t – but then I doubt, even with 4x typical markup that an SD slot would cost anywhere near $50.

      • sabre_springs_mark

        Intel used to do this in the 1990’s with their 486 chips. They sold a version for about 1/3 less called an 486sx, which “didn’t have a floating point coprocessor” Reality is, it would be too expensive for Intel to have two different chip lines, so they basically sold a 486dx but with the floating point unit turned off.

        Today this is all ancient history. Yeah, I agree with you, it is just like your PC. It is designed to take 16 gig – and they may put in 4, but there isn’t any additional design cost if Dell decides to sell it to you with 8.

  • This was one of the main reasons why I switched from the iPhone to the S3. Apple doesn’t care about it’s customers, just the profit above all. Disgusting.

    • Same here. Now have 3 android devices and only one apple. Honestly, I am so hooked to Android now, After ICS, iOS looks junk..

  • Colorado87

    How much does it cost for the microSD port to be built in? Is it cheaper?

  • While it’s definitely a ripoff, it’s not quite as clear-cut as “microSD is under $1/GB, why don’t we have that level of pricing structure for embedded memory as well?” – the actual memory used is much higher performance than you get in an SD card, and has hugely higher write-cycle counts (because it’s designed to be nonreplaceable and used partly as cache).

    There’s also a degree of price differentiation: the $50 gap for 8GB extra is partly there to drive those with a willingness-to-pay for a tablet which is $50 higher, to spend that $50 and get the 16GB rather than pocket it and buy the next one down – the actual price to manufacture is irrelevant to the economics of buying them. Some consumers are willing to pay the extra $50 (because they’re not just able to afford an iPad, they can afford to blow $1k+ on an impulse purchase), and so the market can sustain the price difference. Hell, in a world where swarovski-studded tablets for twice the price are a Thing, they could charge far more for ‘top-end’ tablets: $50 is probably just the price point their market research has found maximises profit.

    It’s a dick move, but it’s a well-supported dick move for manufacturers.

    • sabre_springs_mark

      Eventually with enough competition the memory premium should go away to some extent. Granted, I believe you are correct that the memory inside the phone is probably slightly better than the $15 16gig sandisk microSD card you get at Costco. But then I have never had a high speed SD card “break” in my camera either.

    • Triplell

      It’s a dick move and people are stupid. Brand new iPad with 4g, wifi, and 64GB of storage costs $750-$800.

      Brand new Samsung Galaxy Tablet 4G+wifi with Jelly bean and 8GB of internal storage costs $450. Add a 64GB SD card with 100,000 write cycles for $75, and you are paying $525, or $225 to $275 less for a similar product.

      Might as well mention that 100,000 write cycles would last you 4 years if you made 70 writes per day. I don’t perceive very many people holding onto their ipad 4 for four years, and I don’t perceive many people making 70 writes per day.

  • steven424

    Another angle to consider is that by keeping the amount of internal memory to a minimum, charging exorbitant amounts for incrementally more memory, and not including a microSD slot, cellphone and table manufacturers are herding all the sheep into the cloud.

    Conspiracy theories:
    1) Windfall for cloud storage providers who can charge increasingly more per MB of data stored.
    2) Windfall for cellular service providers who no longer offer unlimited data plans and can charge increasingly more per MB of data moved.
    3) Windfall for cloud storage providers who either claim to own anything stored in their environment, or who have ample opportunity to sneak-and-peek. Either way, a trove of priceless information to sell to marketeers.
    4) All of the above.

    Choose your own conspiracy.

    • All of the above.

    • sabre_springs_mark

      The problem with “the cloud” is that – great I can stream the movie – but I have data caps. Watch it twice and I can’t watch it again until next month. If we had unlimited data, like we (kinda) do with our home Internet, it wouldn’t be an issue.

  • hamjam

    And then HTC just adds one Memory option and no SD card slot….

  • Clint

    4 years later, google doing the same crap with the 6p.