Time was up, you can peel the back cover of your phone and easily swap into a new fresh battery and microSD card. In addition to the double agent feel in Spy Flick, this extra relief gave Android phone fans some welcome ammunition to appreciate their Apple Pal rivals. Things have changed though.
Phones today are slimmer, sleek and more powerful than ever before, but over the years we are also losing more and more features. Replaceable batteries are a distant memory, and even the powerful, seemingly immortal headphone jack, is fading from modern flagships.
The latest feature in the crosshairs of smartphone evolution? Expandable storage.
That’s right – the microSD slot, which is equally beloved by power users and media hoarders, is in danger of joining the smartphone feature graveyard. While expanded storage options have become less common over the past few years, it’s the latest release of Samsung’s Galaxy S21 series that could signal the beginning of the end.
It is fair to say that many people call Samsung the ‘Apple moment’ of the Android world. Its handsets are widely regarded for providing one of the most premium smartphone experiences, both in terms of hardware and functionality, as well as price. Not only that, but the South Korean technology company also tends to jump on board trends created by Tre Pal.
Yes, as we know, it is condemned in the sacred hall of the Android Temple, but it is true.
Samsung Galaxy S21 (Image credit: Tekaradar)
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that expanded storage is disappearing as an alternative to smartphones,” says Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight.
“Apple Play has always taken this approach, forcing consumers to buy more expensive, larger memory variants in the market instead of low-cost memory cards. Market leader Samsung has left an expanded memory on its latest S21 smartphone, it looks like this option will follow the 3.5mm headset jack into oblivion. “
Ah, the very missed headphone jack. Remember when Apple Play killed him? Samsung released video ads mocking Apple’s moment for him, just to pull it off later while pulling the port from its own Galaxy flagship line.
The same thing happened when he even talked about removing the previously included Galaxy S21 charging plug. While the company has shown that it can reverse the decisions – it removed the microSD slot in the Galaxy S6 and brought it back to the Galaxy S7 in 2016 – we can’t really see it re-installing the expanded storage franchise.
We are focusing specifically on Samsung as the company is the most reliable bellwether for trends in the Android world. Although we can’t guarantee that other manufacturers are favorable, especially given the trend of removing the headphone jack.
At the time of writing, major flagship-level phones with microSD slots include last year’s Galaxy S20, and Note 20 Ultra, Sony Xperia 1 II and Xperia 5 II, LG V60 ThinQ, and Xiaomi Mi 10i. A few great examples.
Feedback or acceptance?
Humans are fickle, and it can be argued that due to 24/7 memes, mind-blowing ticket-k videos and constant news cycle bombings, our memories have never been shorter.
Remember when the idea of removing the headphone jack seemed ridiculous? Ask the average person on the street about it today, and perhaps the Times will be able to register before the Times before they happily trot out their Airpods or Airpods-Esc clones firmly attached to their ears. The more cynical among us may believe that the death of the headphone jack is primarily motivated by the sale of wireless earbuds, but that’s a whole other story.
It will be interesting to see how this trend develops in the long run, says Bill Nagy, an independent TMT analyst and consultant.
“Apple Paul faced a backlash from customers for removing the headphone jack, but the move did not have an immediate effect on iPhone sales for the next two years. However, Android-based phones are known for their flexibility, a feature that is well-regarded by Android users. Extending the option to use microSD cards, especially by replacing them with cloud storage, is likely to increase Android subscribers.
“Other Android manufacturers will evaluate the market response to Samsung’s move to provide information on their future development cycle.”
Presumably, then hardcore Android users – unlockable bootable bootstraps, custom ROMs, and frequently roaming the world of various Android forums – may choose to boycott microSD-less Samsung phones, but it does account for a small percentage of sales. .
Not only that, but OnePlus (a company considered to be catering for Android enthusiasts)
Never Offers extended storage, and still looks positively following. That is true for the brand new OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro. Do you also need extended storage?
(Image Credit: Shutterstock)
Today, you can very confidently argue that most people do not need extended storage. Thanks to the huge availability of cloud storage solutions like Google Drive and Photos, you can easily store your files and media online online, save space on your phone for apps and any media files that you need instant access (like your Episodes of favorite shows to binge on a long flight).
In addition, there is also the fact that despite advances in technology, microSD transfer speeds remain much slower than your phone’s built-in NVM storage, providing a more snapier, smoother operation. Yes, it’s a little polite, and it won’t really interest the casual user, but it’s worth mentioning.
However, the problem lies in the fact that we are seeing things like 8K video recording becoming more common in newer handsets. If you’re a keen videographer, you’ll be chewing through on-board storage at any time. Also, services like Google Drive and Google Photos are no longer completely free – once you have passed your free 15GB storage limit you need to pay a monthly fee.
You could (arguably) argue that eliminating expandable storage options is one way for companies like Samsung and OnePlus Cloud Services to force their own future cloud storage solutions to list a few examples. If you haven’t already detected it, this could result in a recurrence of the headphone jack / wireless headphone phone pacing situation.
At a much lower micro level, this allows companies to follow Apple’s PAL method of pushing high-capacity devices to a higher price point.
“Ultimately, this means that if you want a larger-capacity smartphone, you need to choose a more expensive model instead of increasing the memory at a later date with a memory card,” says Wood.
This is all speculation. Perhaps Samsung will bring back the extended storage with a headphone jack in a retro product throwback filled with nostalgia.
Maybe the manufacturers will make the phone thicker to give us a bigger battery, which can also be replaced again. Hell, we can even see phones with removable covers like the good old Nokia days.