The skinny on why the S6 (and possibly Note 5) has no microSD expansion slot

D13H4RD2L1V3

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So, I've been seeing the official reveal of the Samsung Galaxy A8 (and what a looker it is!) and in the comments, there were (unsurprisingly), a lot of people complaining about how the cheaper A8 has expandable storage but the flagship S6/S6E doesn't. I mean, surely it's as simple as drilling a slot into the side of a phone for an SD card slot like HTC and Sony, right?

Well, not exactly.

For a phone's internal storage to work, it needs to communicate with a memory controller, as it manages the flow of data to and from the phone's internal storage. And yes, that counts for SD cards too. Now, as many of us know, the Galaxy S6 uses a new type of internal storage medium called UFS 2.0, also known as Universal Flash Storage 2.0. UFS 2.0 promises much better speed, stability and AFAIK, efficiency as well. Pretty great, right? But that doesn't explain why there's no SD card support, right?

UFS_vs_eMMC_Performance.png

You're right. That doesn't. Now, what I've been hearing is that if Samsung were to add SD card support, it would bottleneck the speed of the phone's internal storage. That's plausible*. While we haven't tested how the speed of UFS 2.0 would be affected by a microSD card, my personal conclusion is that since people mainly store media files on SD cards and apps on internal storage, the performance bottleneck would be a non-issue and from my personal experience, SD cards don't have a noticeable impact on the phone's internal storage speed performance. In short, speed isn't the reason why there's no SD card support on the S6. The reason is below.

Remember when I said that for internal storage and SD card to work with a phone, it needs to communicate with the memory controller? Well, the memory controller used by UFS 2.0 is obviously different from the one used by eMMC. The memory controller used by eMMC can be utilized by both eMMC internal-storage and microSD card without any extra controllers. Unfortunately, UFS 2.0's memory controller apparently doesn't natively support microSD cards. Meaning that if Samsung had to add microSD card support, they would either have to find a way to have the memory controller work with SD cards, design a whole new memory controller or add 2 memory controllers, all of which are very time consuming, difficult and in the case of the latter, makes a dent in the phone's battery life. Note that that may not always be the case, since Gator352 pointed out that most memory controllers are part of the SoC, so it might be a little easier that described, but time will tell.

So, that's your answer right there. So, is microSD card support coming for devices with UFS 2.0? I'm currently not so sure but I'm hoping that they're making SD cards work with them. Fingers crossed.

* - Can someone more experienced in storage hardware clarify this? Thanks.

(If you're interested in the storage performance of eMMC, check out the 2 screenshots below. The left is the LG G4 running a stock ROM while the right is the HTC One M7 running a custom ROM. Both use different types of eMMC AFAIK.) If you have an S6, you can test it out.
Screenshot_2015-07-15-19-17-43.jpg Screenshot_2015-07-15-19-20-29.jpg
 
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MDMcAtee

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I doubt seriously that it would make a difference in battery life. The extra controller is only used in the read/write sequence not all the time.

The real reason is ROI....... Samsung is recouping the cost through higher prices for the extra memory. You have to remember that with the steady fall of cost for memory cards their profit margins have fallen as well because people aren't running out and buying the largest SD cards but waiting for the prices to fall and Samsung is a major manufacturer of SD cards. Most flagship phones are supporting up to 2 TB external cards now. and yet we only have what. .a 200 gig card out...

It's a money grab pure and simple

Posted from my Samsung S6 Active
 

D13H4RD2L1V3

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I doubt seriously that it would make a difference in battery life. The extra controller is only used in the read/write sequence not all the time.

The real reason is ROI....... Samsung is recouping the cost through higher prices for the extra memory. You have to remember that with the steady fall of cost for memory cards their profit margins have fallen as well because people aren't running out and buying the largest SD cards but waiting for the prices to fall and Samsung is a major manufacturer of SD cards. Most flagship phones are supporting up to 2 TB external cards now. and yet we only have what. .a 200 gig card out...

It's a money grab pure and simple

Posted from my Samsung S6 Active

I'm not sure how it's possible to fit 2 memory controllers into a phone.

Maybe it can be done but I'm not so sure right now.
 

KJ78

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If it was anything other than a money grab $am$ung wouldn't be charging $100 for each memory upgrade iteration when the actual cost of materials is fraction of that. $ammy sees Apple ripping off its drones and wants to get in on the act.
 

warpdrive

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Actually, in my mind, all of you are missing the point.

The lack of SD card slot has nothing to do with the memory controller (although such lack of support is missing). The real reason in my mind why samsung refused to include SD card support has everything to do with their want to support multiple storage sizes on the S6 model phone. Including SD card support would nullify our need buy anything but the minimum standard offering from Sammy.

It is why in the past when the standard was only 16gb, the 32gb and 64gb phones didn't sell well at all. In fact, I dare anyone to go ahead and try to buy a 64gb model of the S4 or the S5, even today. It was then and now, an imaginary phone....no carrier or provider would sell them.

But with Samsung wanting to change things up, starting from day 1 you could not only buy the 32gb standard phone but you can also buy the 64gb phone as well. If you are one of the truly hard core users, you could even buy the 128gb model within a few days after release... Not months, but days after release. This could never happen with the original SD card style make up, nor would so many 64gb and 128gb models sell so well if an SD card slot was included.

Argue all you want about Samsung not doing well with the S6. But they changed the way they sell phones and was able to profit from even the 2 upgrade models that they offered at a time when the market is flooded right now with low to mid range phones that perform just as well as flagships.

The memory controller for an SD card slot? Ha
I wouldn't include it if I was the CEO of Samsung as well. I'd rather give my consumers the choice of storage that does far more than an SD card does and in a way that makes it well worth it to produce. Yeah, unlike the G4 that will never have a 64gb model, and the latest One who is always out of stock if I try to order anything other than the default model. I'll stick by Samsung. They understand that consumers want more internal storage not an SD card slot that will never get exchanged.

Only phone geeks will argue over SD card slots, just like on screen vs off screen buttons. Nobody else cares.

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D13H4RD2L1V3

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Actually, in my mind, all of you are missing the point.

The lack of SD card slot has nothing to do with the memory controller (although such lack of support is missing). The real reason in my mind why samsung refused to include SD card support has everything to do with their want to support multiple storage sizes on the S6 model phone. Including SD card support would nullify our need buy anything but the minimum standard offering from Sammy.

It is why in the past when the standard was only 16gb, the 32gb and 64gb phones didn't sell well at all. In fact, I dare anyone to go ahead and try to buy a 64gb model of the S4 or the S5, even today. It was then and now, an imaginary phone....no carrier or provider would sell them.

But with Samsung wanting to change things up, starting from day 1 you could not only buy the 32gb standard phone but you can also buy the 64gb phone as well. If you are one of the truly hard core users, you could even buy the 128gb model within a few days after release... Not months, but days after release. This could never happen with the original SD card style make up, nor would so many 64gb and 128gb models sell so well if an SD card slot was included.

Argue all you want about Samsung not doing well with the S6. But they changed the way they sell phones and was able to profit from even the 2 upgrade models that they offered at a time when the market is flooded right now with low to mid range phones that perform just as well as flagships.

The memory controller for an SD card slot? Ha
I wouldn't include it if I was the CEO of Samsung as well. I'd rather give my consumers the choice of storage that does far more than an SD card does and in a way that makes it well worth it to produce. Yeah, unlike the G4 that will never have a 64gb model, and the latest One who is always out of stock if I try to order anything other than the default model. I'll stick by Samsung. They understand that consumers want more internal storage not an SD card slot that will never get exchanged.

Only phone geeks will argue over SD card slots, just like on screen vs off screen buttons. Nobody else cares.

Posted via the zenfone 2

I see where you're going, but it's still nice to have the option to expand the amount of available storage.

Well, maybe to some people, since 128GB is too small for me. Yeah, I have issues. XD
 

clintw22

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I was one of the ones who hated the idea of no SD card storage also at first. But I do realize why Samsung did what it did. My friend and his ex gf had a fight and she took his phone and he had it locked with a pin but she pulled out his SD card and erased all of their pics together. That can't happen with only internal memory. Also I have a video that when I tried playing it on my s5 where the video was on the SD card, it took a couple seconds for it to load up and was choppy when it played. On the s6, it's smooth and plays instantly. Don't get me wrong I miss having a SD card slot cause I have a 128 gig one sitting at home now, but I get why they did away with them.
 

D13H4RD2L1V3

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I was one of the ones who hated the idea of no SD card storage also at first. But I do realize why Samsung did what it did. My friend and his ex gf had a fight and she took his phone and he had it locked with a pin but she pulled out his SD card and erased all of their pics together. That can't happen with only internal memory. Also I have a video that when I tried playing it on my s5 where the video was on the SD card, it took a couple seconds for it to load up and was choppy when it played. On the s6, it's smooth and plays instantly. Don't get me wrong I miss having a SD card slot cause I have a 128 gig one sitting at home now, but I get why they did away with them.

In what way was the video choppy?

Because in my 4 years of using SD cards on phones, this kind of stuff usually doesn't happen unless the SD card is one of the slower ones.
 

warpdrive

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I see where you're going, but it's still nice to have the option to expand the amount of available storage.

Well, maybe to some people, since 128GB is too small for me. Yeah, I have issues. XD

I totally understand where you are coming from, and I also respect your thoughts. Just be aware that once you add the SD card slot then you'll no longer have a choice about built in storage. Being then locked into a device with 32gb storage like on the G4 isn't that bad today, but like in the past I don't see built in storage increasing in the near future. And 32gb is just not enough right now for me, never mind in the future.

The best thing about Android is that we at least have options. But sadly for some, other than the G4 and the new One, don't expect SD card slots on flagships. Above all, you don't have issues. You just use your phone differently then most. I'm sure that as a gamer, I'm quite different too than most here in this forum.

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D13H4RD2L1V3

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I totally understand where you are coming from, and I also respect your thoughts. Just be aware that once you add the SD card slot then you'll no longer have a choice about built in storage. Being then locked into a device with 32gb storage like on the G4 isn't that bad today, but like in the past I don't see built in storage increasing in the near future. And 32gb is just not enough right now for me, never mind in the future.

The best thing about Android is that we at least have options. But sadly for some, other than the G4 and the new One, don't expect SD card slots on flagships. Above all, you don't have issues. You just use your phone differently then most. I'm sure that as a gamer, I'm quite different too than most here in this forum.

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I'm actually a PC gamer, and I totally understand why you want as much internal storage as you want.

Because games that are stored on the SD card apparently don't work as well as those stored on internal storage, hence why I usually say that I keep media files on my SD card and apps on internal storage.

Speaking of PC, I actually wanna buy an SSD. Maybe a Samsung 850 Evo since those new NVMe SSDs are going to be priced like hell.
 

clintw22

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In what way was the video choppy?

Because in my 4 years of using SD cards on phones, this kind of stuff usually doesn't happen unless the SD card is one of the slower ones.

I was using a Samsung pro 128 gig sd card and I recorded it in HD and it was slow to start and then it wasn't smooth and looked choppy. Idk how to explain how choppy looks.
 

warpdrive

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I'm actually a PC gamer, and I totally understand why you want as much internal storage as you want.

Because games that are stored on the SD card apparently don't work as well as those stored on internal storage, hence why I usually say that I keep media files on my SD card and apps on internal storage.

Speaking of PC, I actually wanna buy an SSD. Maybe a Samsung 850 Evo since those new NVMe SSDs are going to be priced like hell.

That's just it. Games are not allowed to be stored at all on an SD card for the past 3 years. Before that, some games that had SD card support only loaded some of the files to the SD card and when they would load, it took twice the time to do so in order to play them. At this time, Google finally allows some games saves to be loaded on a card, but again, this increases the time to load and if the save becomes corrupted then you're SOL.

Android M, is suposed to go back to better or a more full SD card support. But now that developers have dropped support for so long, I doubt that they will just add it in once again on older games. Also, while on a gaming tablet like the Nvidia shield tablet that has expanded SD card support and allows some (think rare) games that are made for it to be added to the SD card, it is terribly slow to load... Think ultra bad.

My point is that while yes I'm a gamer and that is why I'm only looking at internal storage as nessasery for me personally, adding an SD card slot would hurt my chances of ever finding an android phone that has large internal storage easily world wide. It's the real reason why Apple also has no SD card slot as well. After all, even Apple would never be able to sell a 64gb or 128gb phone if it had a SD card slot in it... So it wouldn't even be profitable (or make any sense) to make the larger storage phones.

That my friend is the dilemma of the issue. So think about it. HTC dropped the SD card slot on the m7 and sold twice as many developer additions as they did with the m8 that included the SD card slot (can't remember the source). The reason for HTC lack of sales of their higher storage phones have been in huge decline due to it and it's why they don't manufacturer many of them to begin with.

Yet with your 128gb phone, you at least have a tremendous amount of internal storage and with a cord can still hook up an SD card to it. Or just use a flash drive. Regardless, such flash drives and SD card slot dongles are also far easier to use today then trying to remove and or install an SD card while out and about in the field like what I used to do when shooting photos with my dSLR.
But most importantly, you'll never have the opportunity to have such a phone if it includes an SD card slot, that's for sure.

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Gator352

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I'm actually a PC gamer, and I totally understand why you want as much internal storage as you want.

Because games that are stored on the SD card apparently don't work as well as those stored on internal storage, hence why I usually say that I keep media files on my SD card and apps on internal storage.

Speaking of PC, I actually wanna buy an SSD. Maybe a Samsung 850 Evo since those new NVMe SSDs are going to be priced like hell.

I use an 840 pro in my Samsung laptop. Best decision ever! Replaced the slow 1TB HDD. Never will i use an HDD again!

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warpdrive

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I use an 840 pro in my Samsung laptop. Best decision ever! Replaced the slow 1TB HDD. Never will i use an HDD again!

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I don't blame you. But if you think that hard drives stuck, try flashing back to the days of floppys or worse, tapes *gasp*.

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Gator352

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I don't blame you. But if you think that hard drives stuck, try flashing back to the days of floppys or worse, tapes *gasp*.

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Lol! I still have the original atari console and atari 800 with a tape drive and baud modem. They might be worth something someday. :)

10 ?" Hard drives suck! "
20 goto 10

Basic at it's finest! Lol

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Forthepie

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I'd prefer to have a SD card slot, but I think wardrive is right. Only phone geeks are concerned. Half my friends don't care about the SD slot and the other half have iPhones....so..yeah.

Plus, how about phone companies asking them to do away to get higher data plans?
 

mayconvert

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I know how Samsung should fix this issue.
Take the S6 as an example: suppose this is the pricing of the phone ( each carrier seems to vary a little)
32GB = $699
64GB = $799
128GB = $899

Simple fix: make a 64GB model with an SD card slot for $869
Then we can see just how much people want an SD card. Problem solved.
Maybe Samsung throws in a wireless charging dock.