Let me just put it out there. The lack of SD cards in a smartphone is said to be one of the biggest deal breakers when choosing your next Android device. And I think that reason is one, big, fat cop out.
In October 2012, with the 4.2 release of Android, Google removed the native compatibility of SD cards. Why? According to Matias Duarte, “it’s just confusing for users”.
Why don’t Nexus devices have SD cards?
Everybody likes the idea of having an SD card, but in reality it’s just confusing for users.
If you’re saving photos, videos or music, where does it go? Is it on your phone? Or on your card? Should there be a setting? Prompt everytime? What happens to the experience when you swap out the card? It’s just too complicated.
We take a different approach. Your Nexus has a fixed amount of space and your apps just seamlessly use it for you without you ever having to worry about files or volumes or any of that techy nonsense left over from the paleolithic era of computing.
With a Nexus you know exactly how much storage you get upfront and you can decide what’s the right size for you. That’s simple and good for users.
–Matias Duarte via Google+
The makers of the operating system have purposefully removed this capability, purposefully removed it…purposefully. That’s means that they intend for the OS not to handle SD cards any longer. So why do so many people still call the lack of an SD card a deal breaker. The #1 reason consumers want the SD card slot is they say they need it to store their music because streaming eats up the data.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is probably the most popular phone that has an SD card slot and it comes in 3 different internal storage options, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. It’s Micro SD card slot supports SD cards up to 64GB in storage capacity, which means you could have up to as much as 128GB of storage in your phone. That is a lot of music!
If you are one to ignore a great phone because it does not offer an SD card slot and streaming music eats up your limited data, I’ll agree with that one. Even Google Play Music has had bad experience with high data usage when streaming music, but I still can’t agree that the lack thereof is a deal breaker. I have to ask how practical is it to store a possible 128 GB of music on your phone? Why do you have to have your entire library on your phone? Do you really listen to every song in your library all the time? I know the answer to that is “no”. Here is how I know.
The average length of a song is 223 seconds (3 minutes and 43 seconds). A 64GB SD card is said to hold about 31,500 songs. That’s more than 81 straight days of music. If you have a job that keeps your bills paid and allows you to listen to that much music non-stop at all much less for 81 straight days, in the comments below please let me know where you work. I want to call your boss and tell him to stop paying you for goofing off. Even if you tell me you make a living as a DJ, even DJs don’t play 81 days of different music. People would stop listening to them if they did that. I know this because I lived with a DJ for the first 20 years of my life. I called him, “Dad”!
In order to make the Samsung Galaxy S4 recognize the SD card, Samsung has decided to keep code that was prominent during the Froyo and Gingerbread days of Android. I wanted to come up with a comparison at this point, but I can’t think of one because most manufactures realize this is not a good practice. In fact, to back up Matias Duarte’s claim of being confusing, others have had to write “how to” step by step procedures to help consumers use the SD card on the S4. And guess what, it didn’t always work.
Let’s quit talking about music, and start talking about apps. Samsung originally did not allow you to move apps to the SD card. This is because they released it without this functionality. I believe they had no intention of allowing this, but they listened to their customers and released an update to implement this functionality, despite the drawbacks. I say, “Good job, Samsung”. If you are going to have the SD card, let it be used for the more important part, not just music, but app storage as well. However, you can’t please all of your consumers at the same time. It could be a detriment if you continue to try.
Unfortunately, there are still drawbacks, because remember, the OS still doesn’t really recognize the SD card, so you can’t just offload all apps to the SD card. If you did, some of them would break. Some say “It’s up to the developers to make their app work with SD cards.”. While that’s very true, why would the developers be inclined to do so if: A) Most phones don’t have them anymore and B) The OS doesn’t recognize them!!!!
What do you think? Are SD cards still a deal breaker for you in choosing your next smartphone?