Cursed SD card formatting saga with cheap TCL phone


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Feb 24, 2021
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So a few months ago I purchased a cheap secondary phone to play around with for some specific use cases I didn't wanna clutter my already filled-to-the-brim daily driver S10 Lite with. For reference, it's a Straight Talk TCL A3X (A600DL) I picked up for the disposably cheap price of $40. I immediately noticed it wouldn't take exFAT formatted SD cards, which quickly became a massive problem because I had to waste space on the puny 32GB internal storage for a couple of files that were bigger than 4GB due to limitations of the FAT32 filesystem that this phone does by default when you put in a card that isn't formatted in a supported file system. No matter what I tried it refused exFAT cards, although at the time I only tested with formatting it under Windows. Fast forward a couple of months and last night I got really fed up for good with this whole mess. I grabbed an old failing memory card to use as a guinea pig, booted into Linux and began testing what file systems this cheapo phone can take. It refused ext4, but color me shocked when it started accepting exFAT. For all this I used KDE Partition Manager. I then converted the memory card with my files on it to exFAT (copied all the files off it, reformatted, then returned the files). Put it in the phone and BOOM, I can store files over 4GB on the SD card. Now I am no expert on the low-level aspects of file systems but something is really fishy here. Either this thing is somehow rejecting and recognizing exFAT cards formatted under Windows (Windows 11 if that matters), or exFAT support was added in the last system update. I think the first scenario is more likely given that last I checked Samsung is the only one with a license from Microsoft to produce exFAT enabled devices. Can't be bothered to test with Windows again but this whole mess is just cursed and strange, and honestly idk what I'm expecting of a phone that costs about as much as 4 six-packs of spicy ramen noodles. In any case I cannot wait for Android to get proper NATIVE support for exFAT so these issues become a thing of the past. Normal users would have given up but I've seen all sorts of spicy stuff of this nature in my time so I turned to Linux and problem solved. Hope this helps anyone who's got the same issue with any non-Samsung Android phone. If you don't have Linux on your machine, just live boot a KDE based distro and put your target card in a card reader (you cannot use MTP for this). If it matters, the particular distro I use as my daily driver Linux install and used for this formatting mess is the "Dr4gonized Gaming" edition of Garuda Linux.

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