Why the Samsung Galaxy S4 Micro SD Card is Useless
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a great smartphone, but after a week I only have 3.5GB of storage left and dumbed down Micro SD card support on Android highlights the missing 32GB and 64GB Galaxy S4 models.
Currently the 16GB Samsung Galaxy S4 is the only model available for purchase from U.S. carriers, and several confirmed it will be the only model they offer. Some sources claim a Samsung Supply chain issue is behind the problem, but carriers are quick to point out that users can rely on a Micro SD card and the Cloud instead of the internal storage, but that’s not completely true.
Read: Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
There are limitations to what users can place on a Micro SD card and using the Cloud will push data usage up, which could force customers to spend $10 to $20 more a month.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the inclusion of a Micro SD card to store media and USB OTG support makes it possible to plug a USB drive into the Samsung Galaxy S4 when I need even more, but this doesn’t solve the problem of limited internal storage.
Google is focused on pushing consumers towards internal storage with changes in the ability to move apps to the SD card in Android 4.2 and in the design decisions of the Nexus 4, which only offers internal storage.
After using the Samsung Galaxy S4 for a week, and only downloading some of the apps I traditionally use, I am left with only 3.5GB of storage left on my 16GB Galaxy S4. That’s after a week of use, and forcing 1080P HD video and my photos onto an SD card.
Currently the biggest data hogs, after Samsung’s implementation of Android, are games, Google Play movie purchases and a few other apps. I’m afraid to download all the games I’ve purchased and to store any Google Play Music on the phone.
Why is this such a big deal with a 32GB Micro SD card waiting with 90% open?
Simple. Google won’t let me move any of this data to the Micro SD card.
Apps need to be on the Internal memory in order to work, likely because Google is worried users will purchase cheap, slow Micro SD cards that will impede performance. With many popular games clocking in at over 1GB in size, internal storage space disappears fast.
Google Play Movies and TV shows are also restricted to the internal memory. This is probably a concession to prevent piracy, which is especially annoying because there’s no apparent way to buy or rent content that I can store on the Micro SD card. If I were to pirate movies or break DRM to rip them to my computer I could store them on the Micro SD card.
When it comes time to listen to music, I’m not able to download the 1,645 songs I uploaded to Google Music without wasting internal storage. Some of them I can side-load from a computer onto my Micro SD card, if I want to give up the convenience of cloud sync. The same goes for music apps that allow offline playback, most of which will store songs on the internal memory.
With all of this in mind, the Micro SD card is basically good for photos and videos taken with the camera, as long as the photos aren’t taken in Burst Mode, which only supports saving to the internal storage.
There is the option to rely on the cloud for movies and music, but with a limited plan on AT&T this isn’t the best option for me or for many users. This also means more time spent picking and choosing apps and media when I will be offline on a plane or long trip. Apple offers the iPhone 5 with up to 64GB of storage and the HTC One comes with up to 64GB of internal storage.
Until Android improves on the ability to use built-in apps and services on the Micro SD card, it cannot be a replacement for 32GB or 64GB Android smartphones.