Over the recent past, a couple top executives have spoken regarding their company’s choice for producing smartphones without micro sd card slots. Most notably is Samsung, who have put these micro sd slots in their flagship phones up until their most recent Samsung Galaxy S6. You can add Xiaomi to the list of companies that is not willing to put in a micro sd card slot into their phones. Well for them, let’s just say that their flagship models won’t have microsd cards, but for some reason, their budget models will have micro sd.
Asus ZenFone 2
HTC One M9
LG G Flex 2
Samsung Note 4
No question this is a hot button issue. People care about these things. Afterall, extra storage is expensive and with better cameras on phones and higher resolution video, we are simply needing more storage on our phones than ever before.
People are always quick to look at the Apple business model and point out that they are destroying the competition in sales with phones that don’t feature micro sd card slots. However, consider the dollars and cents of the matter. Apple doesn’t make micro sd cards. If they put in a slot, they are losing out on that revenue stream. Consider also the fact that consumers have no choice but to buy a more expensive iPhone with the bigger storage capacity. Apple can gain revenue with this design choice rather than give away revenue to the manufacturers of the micro sd cards. Beyond that, it would simply mean that consumers could buy a cheaper Apple iPhone and get more storage at a cheaper price than having to buy an iPhone with the larger internal storage. There is only one Apple and they can pretty much do as they please. It’s foolish in my opinion for any other company to think that they can do what Apple does. Only Apple can do what Apple does. Apple never cannibalizes its own products by offering up a cheaper model that makes compromises in terms of hardware. A micro sd card slot in an iPhone means a leak in the revenue stream and that’s simply against everything they stand for.
So how about Google and their Nexus line-up? Sure they have never features the micro sd card slots. However, up until the Nexus 6, the devices all shared one trait. They were CHEAP. If you’re going to pay less for a product, then some functionality of features can be omitted without major issues or complaints from consumers. But more to the Google business model, what is their focus? It’s on cloud storage. They have the cloud services and micro sd cards fly in the face of the cloud movement. So it’s more of a self interest rule regarding the choices in design with the Nexus products. If you’re telling people how great cloud storage is, yet your flagship phones have micro sd storage, wouldn’t the message be contradictory?
In 2012, this is what Google said regarding their decision to not have micro sd card slots in their Nexus phones:
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.
In 2015, are consumers savvy enough to figure out where or what they are doing with their files? What I don’t hear are consumers complaining about being confused when using devices like phone and tablets with micro sd card slots. The confusion aspect of storage? Not sure if that’s relevant in 2015 and beyond. If cloud storage is the replacement, then some of those internal questions and confusion about where to store a photo or video might just still exist. It’s still option A vs. option B. We have also heard from Google the technical issues regarding micro sd, which makes some sense. However most of these issues were brought forward in the year 2012, so taking those same issue in today’s world, and I’m not sure the validity still exist as it once did.
Hugo Barra, the Xiaomi Vice President of International has listed a number of reasons as to why they will never include a micro sd slot in their flagship smartphones. Barra cites many reasons, including that micro sd cards are prone to failure and customers will blame the phone for those issues. It appears that his views come from experiences with knock-off brands that appear to be brand names. Perhaps that’s a big concern in the Asia market but in North America, sd card reliability is simply not an issue. In general though, Barra cites design road blocks such as battery capacity, appearance and a secondary micro SIM slot as reasons for micro sd exclusion. However, Xiaomi has found ways to include that micro sd slot in their budget models, which of course feature smaller internal storage capacities such as just 8GB. In that sense, his argument regarding knock off and or unreliable micro sd cards doesn’t hold much water. If you value all your customers equally, then why put those budget phone customers in harms way if you believe so strongly in the unreliability and customer complaints that arise from sketchy micro sd cards?
There are a few issues that come up regarding technology that really create massive responses from consumers. From every article written and from every news story about the change in direction from Samsung and the first time Galaxy flagship smartphone (S6) without a micro sd, a strong majority were very passionate about their disappointment. People in general have been very outspoken about it.
What I say about it is this. File sizes, apps, videos and everything else is growing in size. Nicer screens, higher resolutions, more capable cameras lead to one need. More storage. We don’t require less, but we require more and more. A micro sd card is a cheap way for consumers to increase their storage on their devices. In fact, that may be part of the underlying problem. We all love cloud storage, but local storage is the best option for most things. Backing up? Sure, cloud is obviously a key component, but for everyday usage, local storage is the ideal.
The argument against including a micro sd slot seems weak at best. Forget Apple. Forget Google. Those exceptions are understandable. For the manufacturers like Samsung, I think the public has spoke quite clearly about how they feel about the issue. I can’t say that sales are down or not because of it, but I can certainly say that when companies like Asus show up with flagship smartphones that include micro sd slots and come in at a lower price point, suddenly consumers have viable options to buy.
If all companies decide collectively to kill of micro sd slots, then I sure hope at that most of us have access to cheaper data plans and much wider access to free wifi. Anyway you slice it, less storage is not consumer friendly.