Why do Nexus devices have no SD card slot?

Why do devices like the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and Galaxy Nexus have no microSD card slot?

Update: You may also like to read ‘Multi user support could make microSD inclusion problematic for Android OEMs going forward’.

Earlier this year, we polled readers to determine with how much importance they regard microSD expansion. From the sample we took, it seemed that the majority would still be content without it. Now that the Nexus 7 has been announced, which does not have one, the debate about microSD slots has been started once again.

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At a glance of the situation, it is not unreasonable to theorize that smartphone manufacturers are not including MicroSD expansion with their devices in order to get more people using cloud services. However, this is not the case and Android Central has today posted to explain Google’s reasoning for not including a microSD slot, and why it is not in fact a conspiracy. Below is a quote from Google engineer Dan Morrill, which explains in simple terms why microSD is not included. For more detail, check out the post over at AC.

We got tired of seeing OEMs include many GB of internal storage for music, while users were still running out of space for apps and data. This approach lets us merge everything on one volume, which is way better.

– Dan Morrill, Android engineer at Google

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About Chris Ward

Better known as 'Wardy', digital media is where his interest lies. Responsible for many elements of the Clove website and external advertising activities, Wardy is our interactive media graduate.

Always chilled out, there is never a time when you see 'Wardy' stressed. A keen music follower, he knows his DJ's and how to mix a few tracks together. Always eating, he remains stick thin and is the envy of the rest of us! A very deep character, there are some suprising twists to what Wardy knows and you'll never meet a nicer bloke if you tried!

Comments

  1. UKAndroid says:

    I never saw the original poll but would have definitely opted for wanting a card slot. Without an internal card slot I would want to possibility of using external USB storage as a second best.

    I often use my devices to view media on long journeys and like to have my device “fully loaded”. Often “the cloud” is not available (on planes) or is too slow/expensive for media streaming (trains).

    On the Galaxy Note I have a 64GB micro sd card and can add more memory using a USB stick/adaptor if need be. I believe that the Google Nexus 7 will not allow even external USB storage “out of the box”. It seems a retrograde step to me and is one of the major “plus factors” that many Android devices over Apple devices.

    • Oh dear, I hadn’t noticed the N7 only implements the keyboard/mouse bits of USB OTG, not storage. Like to hear the reasoning behind this…

    • Chris Ward says:

      The Galaxy Note does still seem like the optimum device for storage, it is one of the only high end ICS devices with an SD slot

      • The S2 and S3 also work well with 64Gb MicroSD cards, and support full USB OTG. Hell, even the lowly Ace2 (which is a really nice device, you should stock it!) will happily accept 64Gb in its (exterior!) slot.

  2. That (and the detail over on AC) is a good justification for having a substantial amount of built-in storage, which pretty much every Android device has now. It’s not a very good explanation as to why you can’t have that *and* an SD slot. If you want to swap peoples iphones for Nexuses, you can’t be telling them “Sorry, you’ll have to cut your music/video/app collection in half, we don’t have a 64Gb Nexus. And until Google Music works outside the US without shenanigans, only geeks will be able to get real media use of the cloud, which isn’t a good way to grab market share. Rant over.

    • Chris Ward says:

      Good point about trying to grab market share. It seems that the higher storage Android devices never see release in the UK, but do in other regions. I think a lot of manufacturers still feel like the price tag that higher storage devices command could price them out of the market. I would expect this to change soon though, especially if Google is serious about trying to take market share from Apple.

    • Bugblatter says:

      Google Music is coming to the UK; I think they said the middle of November.

      I still want local storage though.

  3. Mike Paterson says:

    Having one large volume is one thing and certainly gets over a lot of issues with Internal storage.
    However, getting rid of the external storage based on that principle is not the same.

    Further, as I have stated in the previous topic on whether devices should only have Internal and cloud storage, I still say the same; it is no use having to rely totally on cloud storage when you can not get to it:-
    1. Most users are capped on data usage, even those with supposedly ‘unlimited data’.
    As such it won’t take long to download your monthly data allowance.
    Therefore, until mobile contractors include a true unlimited package you simply can not rely upon the cloud as your only means of additional storage.
    2. Network coverage is not bullet-proof. Just look at how many times you have found yourself in an area of low to little data coverage. Not much use then having all your data stored on someone’s secure cloud service if you can not get a connection to it.

    Given the choice of two devices ~ one with external storage and one without, I wouldn’t hesitate in a second in picking the one with an external storage slot.
    It was one reason why I chose the ASUS Transformer over the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
    The Transformer not only gives you a microsd slot on the Tablet but a USB slot as well on the keyboard.

    Yes, I will use cloud storage when I can get to it (Dropbox & Box being my favourite) but I wouldn’t want to totally reliant upon it.

    Mike

    • What he said. :-) Did a lot of train travel today, and got it into my head to listen to some of the more obscure music on my phone. Amazing how often 3G and even GPRS coverage disappeared on the trip – I would not have been a happy bunny if I was relying on it to get to my music.

  4. Hikari0307 says:

    My Galaxy S3 and Transformer Prime shows that you can have an external micro sd slot AND have one large internal partition that can be used for apps. I have 32gb + 64gb for both of them. (Which explains your poll why some people like me don’t take out the sd card out of the device often as it’s more than enough).

    If you have a big enough internal memory than it’s no problem, but people still want memory cards because most devices don’t have enough internal space, especially nexus devices with very little storage space. People outside the US don’t even see a 32gb Galaxy Nexus and that’s the minimum most people would want before giving up on external storage (people like me that has huge music collection and put movies etc. in the device to entertain me on long public transport and trips would want at least 64gb), not to mention the HD games that is coming with more and more extra data nowadays not to mention some needing up to 1 to 2gb or extra data nowadays. That will fill up the storage space in an 8gb or 16gb device in no time especially the Nexus 7 which is a Tegra device so it has access to even more HD games.

    The iphone and ipad has 64gb options and I can’t believe I’m saying this, people has that choice of wanting a bigger storage option when they buy those apple devices, a choice they don’t have when buying a nexus device(though they have a choice to go buy some other android device but it’s not a nexus).

    Relying on cloud service alone is ridiculous especially when you don’t have a 100% reliable network where you can always fetch the data you want with no limits to data. Some rooms I do some presentation etc. in have terrible wireless access, I sometimes can’t even get wifi in them so I need stuff I’m presenting on my device at all times. It’s still years down the line before cloud service can reach the reliability level local storage has. It’s a good backup and place so sync and share files and documents right now, but otherwise I don’t have much use for it.

  5. Chris Ward says:

    I’m definitely with you guys on the Cloud not being a true option until networks are more reliable in terms of data allowance, speed and coverage.

    By now Google will be well aware that a lack of internal storage is one of the only drawbacks its Nexus handsets have compared to an iPhone, so I wouldn’t be surprised if its next Nexus handset addresses this and has variants with larger internal storage. Let’s hope so anyway.

    • Mike Paterson says:

      If they base it mainly on this, pricing will be the next issue!
      The difference between a 16GB & 64GB device will not be the same as having a 16GB device with a 64GB microsd card added.
      Plus you get a 16GB extra memory using the microsd card approach.

      Mike

      • Quite; the last time I checked, Vodafone’s 32Gb variant of the GS3 cost about £80 more than the 16Gb unit, around 4X the cost per Gb of a card. You should get faster memory access, but that’s an awfully high premium. IMHO, best to put a decent amount of internal memory in, and have a card slot built-in, so people can decide for themselves if they want more space. It’s only going to be used for music, video etc, and slower access really isn’t an issue for that.

        • Chris Ward says:

          Yea both would be nice. One option, especially if Google does want to take market share for iOS, would be for it to subsidise Nexus phones, as it has done with the Nexus 7, so that larger storage handsets aren’t so expensive. That would work out nicely for consumers as well!

          • Bugblatter says:

            The new Nexus 4 definitely looks subsidised; that’s a lot of phone for the money. Almost an LG Optimus G (so a lot faster than the S3 for example) but just over half the cost.

            But no microSD slot…

          • Chris Ward says:

            It is ridiculously cheap. It means that first time buyers can try a premium Android device without huge investment.

  6. Ok so now google has given many GB of internal storage for apps and data, but now I’m running out of space for musics,photos and videos.

    I need an external storage to win which is way better.

  7. Well, i was to buy one, but without a decent SD card, forget it. And 64Gb starts to look a bit small nowadays.

  8. Ryan Cornell says:

    Google…we want our external card slot back. Until then, I won’t purchase. I have voted.

    • Wow, a blast from the past! I’d feel a little better about limited internal expansion options if the Nexuses support USB OTG, so you could connect an extra card externally, but the 7 didn’t, so I’m not holding my breath.

      • Mike Paterson says:

        It does but only by rooting Ian.

        Mike

        • True, but this should really be core Android functionality, surely, not something you have to go to xda and potentially void your warranty for? A big grumble I hear from ios users is that they can’t connect USB sticks, this should be standard and shouted from the rooftops!

  9. I was excited to see the price on the Galaxy Nexus and was willing to take AT&T over Verizon to get it. But then I realized it didn’t have a microSD slot, and that is a deal breaker. Sorry, I don’t want a Google iPhone. Next!

  10. GOOGLE YOU IDIOTS: EVERYONE WANTS THE OPTION FOR EXTERNAL STORAGE. YOU ARE HURTING EVERYONE. JUST GIVE US THE DAMN MICRO SD SLOT SO WE CAN KEEP BUYING YOUR BEAUTIFUL SHIT.

  11. I really don’t get why people cant ‘Move On’. I have 8K songs on google music. I can stream music from leaving work to getting home without problems. During that process of getting home, this involves walking to the 1 mile to the bus stop, bus to the train station, sit inside the station, take a train, walk to home… All streaming my music without hickup. Now Tmobile dont monitor my data usage so i guess some people will be lumbered with large data charges.. but I have found it quite acceptable to stream from the cloud. I understand that people want to store large movies on their devices, which to some extent, the SD card slot would be useful but even so, I have 13GB to play with out of the 16GB to store a few films on a plane journey..couple of films, and albums later and your landing! I have also some movies stored on the cloud too. Again work like a charm.
    I also use the cloud for all document editing. Its always there, available and never causes a problem. If your heading for somewhere with no 3G or Wifi, store a local copy for upload later on.. Simples… I think Google are heading in the right direction.
    If you want HD films on the phone/tablet just use the internal memory. If your sat that long in front of a phone watching 1080P films, take a break otherwise you’ll get eye strain!

    • Because

      1. Data isn’t always available – GPRS is the best I could manage close to a fairly large UK town this lunchtime. On flights I want to be able to listen to music too.

      2. Overseas, data isn’t cheap.

      I’d rather have the music I want in my pocket than have my phone turn into a desk ornament when I can’t get good data access.

      • 1. Data isn’t always available – Its not for everyone. And yet networks especially in the UK, are not yet upto speed…Again its not for everyone.

        2. Overseas, data isn’t cheap. Good point, but then when ive been away on holidays, I dont tend to take 20K songs with me, just a couple of albums of what im listening too at the time. So the “make offline” option (in google music) and download to internal storage is more than capable before I travel..

Trackbacks

  1. [...] After the release of the Nexus 7, Android engineer Dan Morrill explained why Nexus devices have no microSD slot and this was yesterday reiterated by Google’s Matias Duarte on Google+ in somewhat plainer terms: [...]