samsung galaxy s5 vs nexus 5 3

Loved by many, but disliked by the one in charge, the microSD card has had a rocky relationship with Android. While maintaining its presence on all Samsung and Sony flagship smartphones, the popularity MicroSD slot has fallen a little over the past two years, only to return in this year’s flagship smartphones from Sony, LG, HTC and Samsung.

The boss doesn’t like you

Google hasn’t attempted to veil its disdain towards the MicroSD card, the last Nexus device to bear a MicroSD slot was the first Nexus device, the Nexus One. Since then Google has left the MicroSD slot off of all of its devices, despite some criticism.

nexus-one
The Nexus One was the first Nexus device, and also the last Nexus device to feature a MicroSD card slot.

To further its attempt to remove the MicroSD card slot from Android devices, Google removed ‘Apps2SD’ support in Android Jelly Bean, stopping users from being able to install apps onto their MicroSD card. Some OEMS such as Samsung reinstated ‘Apps2SD’ support on their own devices, but in Android 4.4 KitKat, Google took even more steps to limit the use of MicroSD cards by adding restrictions which inhibited an app’s ability to interact with SD cards.

MicroSD cards bring significant problems.

Of course, these measures aren’t simply being put into effect for no reason. MicroSD cards bring significant problems such as security issues due to the sharing of SD cards, causing app malfunctions if they are removed and are a massive issue for the multi-user feature on tablets in that SD cards can’t handle multiple user accounts well due to the lack of a proper filesystem. So why do we still pine for MicroSD card slots?

Why do MicroSD card slots remain popular?

Despite Google attempting to detach users from their affinity towards local storage, on board storage remains a critical point for smartphone users. With app sizes growing, the megapixel numbers of cameras getting higher and the slow move towards 4K content, people are trying to balance all of their storage needs on smartphones which often only have 16GB of inbuilt storage.

lg g3 vs htc one m8 (8 of 11)
Both LG and HTC have brought back the MicroSD card slot for their flagship smartphones, the LG G3 and the HTC One (M8).

While there are 32GB options, users will often need to fork over a ridiculous amount of money when compared to buying a relatively cheap 16GB MicroSD card and now that some new smartphones support 128GB MicroSD cards, users have the ability to expand their local storage to enormous sizes. In comparison, 64GB inbuilt storage options are very rarely seen and even when they are announced, you’ll often be hard pressed finding a store to buy it.

Cloud storage seems like the obvious answer.

Cloud storage seems like the obvious answer, but as has been proven time and again, 4G networks in most countries are either not up to scratch just yet and carriers haven’t offered high data caps at affordable prices. Google’s push towards cloud storage has hit more than a few bumps in the road, with its attempts to test the waters with the Nexus 7 and Nexus 4 (both devices were originally launched with a maximum inbuilt storage option of 16GB), but has reluctantly brought larger storage options with the Nexus 7 (2013) and the Nexus 5.

Wrap up

The truth is that MicroSD cards probably aren’t the most elegant or even the best solution to our storage needs. But right now they appear to be the only choice for users trying to meet their massive storage needs and until OEMs offer affordable high storage capacity devices which are available right from the get-go, consumers will continue to push for the inclusion of a MicroSD card slot and OEMs will continue to offer them.

What’s your take on the whole MicroSD card slot issue? Are you one of those people who live and die by the SD card? Or is the SD card slot a nice thing to have, but not a necessity? Or have you taken to the cloud and aren’t looking back?