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3 reasons the 2016 Nexus phones might have microSD card slots

Nexus 6 vs Nexus 6P 1
© nextpit

OK, bear with me. I know Google has had a less than tolerant attitude towards microSD cards for a long time. But that's changed recently and I'm starting to think that the 2016 generation of Nexus phones might just have microSD cards. Here's why.

1. Android knows how to handle microSD cards now

Google has historically been against microSD cards because they are supposedly confusing, slow and insecure.

However, with the introduction of Adaptable Storage Devices in Marshmallow (where you can format an SD Card specifically for your device, rendering it useless in another device), the Android system is now perfectly capable of handling expandable storage in the secure way that Google demands it should.

androidpit HTC One A9 Format internal storage
Android Marshmallow lets you format an SD card as internal storage. / © ANDROIDPIT

The speed argument is now a moot point too. The current UHS-II standard has faster read-write speeds than the Galaxy S6. If you want the numbers, the Galaxy S6 can read at 290 MB/sec and write at 90 MB/sec. The Lexar Professional 2000x microSD card reads at 300 MB/sec and writes at 260 MB/sec. So, you simply buy a fast enough memory card for your Nexus or you accept that your microSD access speeds are going to be a little slower, and move on with your life. 

If microSD is no slower than internal memory and is no longer insecure then Google's issues against expandable memory evaporate. Oh, but I almost forgot, Google thinks microSD cards are confusing for users. Trust me, no one has ever been “confused” by external storage, except that one Google guy that drew the short straw and had to use it publicly as an excuse for why Nexus devices don't have microSD cards. You're not fooling anyone with that excuse, Goog (and yes, I know it was Lord Duarte who said it).

Darth Vader micro SD ANDROIDPIT
MicroSD cards are not the devil, Google, so stop acting like they are. Even Vader agrees. / © ANDROIDPIT

2. The cloud is an unreasonable baseline

Unlimited data plans are becoming less common, meaning that people have to pay much more attention to how much data they're pushing up and down every day. Trying to force users to use cloud services for basic Android functionality assumes two things: that everyone has reliable data coverage and that they can afford to store everything in the cloud and access it whenever they like.

Neither of these assumptions is actually true, and for Google to force that view on people is nothing short of imperial: you shouldn't 'have' to use cloud services because your phone doesn't have a low-budget alternative. 

Google has shown interest catering to those areas of the globe that do not have perfect internet connections (and even Facebook now works offline) in the past, and a move to include microSD support in its Nexus devices would be in line with that.

androidpit best backup apps 15
"Seriously? Do you realise how much data I'd need to do that?" / © ANDROIDPIT

3. Even Samsung changed its mind

Remember the storm that erupted when Samsung removed one of its two core features from the Galaxy S6? Removable batteries and microSD cards were synonymous with Samsung devices and in many ways they contributed to the company's success. The S6's lack of these things almost caused riots in the streets.

Battery improvements may mean that phones don't really need removable batteries anymore, but the expandable storage decision was met with fierce revolt. Lots of Samsung users said they'd switch brands because of it and the decision seems to have been so unpopular that Samsung is considering re-introducing microSD in its 2016 devices.

AndroidPIT Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge microSD card
Even Samsung might make a turnaround on its microSD decision. / © ANDROIDPIT

If Samsung can change its mind on microSD cards then so can Google. It's time, Google: give the people want they want.

Do you think the 2016 Nexus phones will have microSD? Would you buy one if they did? Tell us what you think in the comments.


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Kris Carlon

Kris Carlon
Senior Editor

Kris is a former AndroidPIT Editor who came to the team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.

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  • Jim McCroskey Aug 22, 2016 Link to comment

    Nexus 6p in my view was junk. Bad screen and no sd card. So why did I by it . To get off of verzion. Lg v10 is great but Verizon is not. Nexus with SD I may try again

  • Anthony Leone (Soulife) Aug 1, 2016 Link to comment

    5 months of 2016 left and no sd cards.. In my opinion, the reason is money. The more storage your phone has the more you paid for it. Hopefully the devices sold with android "N" will have one, i'd love to own a nexus but i'm not putting a few hundred dollars on a phone without an sd.. *sad panda*

  • Rick Parola Aug 1, 2016 Link to comment

    +1 I can't wait for final info on new nexus phones, but I can say I'll pass if it doesn't have expandable memory.

  • guest 33 May 31, 2016 Link to comment

    I'd have bought a Nexus AGES AGO if they'd get off the sd card nonsense. Do they actually think consumers like putting up with buggy skins and nonexistent updates from the OEMs just so we can have external storage, because I can assure you we don't!!!!
    Put in a damn sd card slot already!

    I'm really, really hoping Nokia step up and show other OEMs how it's done now that they are free from Microsucks grip to make Android phones. guess we'll see later this year.

  • Justin Kotko May 18, 2016 Link to comment

    I want to get a nexus phone for so many reasons. I have for a while. I've always had Galaxy phones. I just upgraded to the Galaxy s7. I was so tempted to switch to nexus. The main reason i didn't was the lack of an sd card slot. Google needs to get on this. If the nexus phones have sd by the time i upgrade again im positive id jump ship.

  • Mfisher1987 Mar 31, 2016 Link to comment

    Yes I would love to buy a nexus device if it had an sd card slot. It's the only thing that has held me back so far.

  • Chad Collier Feb 4, 2016 Link to comment

    I won't be buying another Samsung phone unless it has micro SD card support.
    I would prefer the user changeable battery option too.
    Actually I won't buy another Samsung without either feature.
    This is THE reason my last 2 phones were Samsung.
    Note 3 & Note 4
    No Note 5 for me.
    Becoming too much like Apple.
    And I don't care what anyone else says.
    The removable options are far more convenient than the fixed options.

  • Rick Natour Dec 23, 2015 Link to comment

    For those of you asking why we need that much space: from a power user standpoint
    1)having the ability to move files to your device without having the phone on. To elaborate ... Your android os isn't booting but you need to move a file to your phone to install fresh os .
    2) I actually save photos forever..... So the longer I can controlably go without having to make a "free up space" pit stop the better.
    3) my mp3 archive is almost 80 gb - going from the ability to literally have every single song on my phone to being limited to half or even less of my library is not called an UPGRADE.
    4) I like to be able to move downloaded pc games and movies to my phone to facilitate LAN parties xD
    Conclusion: CONVENIENCE xD

    • guest 33 May 31, 2016 Link to comment

      Precisely. If they expect us to use these devices as a PC in a pocket ( with some even playing with a full blown PC OS on the phone hooking to external PC monitor), then give us the damn space options of a PC!

  • Tyler Robinson Dec 23, 2015 Link to comment

    I really don't understand the mindset of people who won't buy phones because of lack of SD expansion. It's literally not a big deal to me, never has been. I'm not knocking anyone I just want points of view. Anyone?

    • Ryan Davidson Jan 6, 2016 Link to comment

      I filled the space in my NEW Nexus 5X 15 minutes after it was out of the box. I travel a lot and work in a field where it is great to have building documents and plans in the palm of my hand. The new Nexus 5X has a MAXIMUM of 32gig memory, and between the my music, pictures, and work documents the usable 26 gigs of space (after the operating system chewed up the rest) was filled within minutes.
      With a micro SD expansion slot, this problem is easily fixable with the addition of an SD card.

      I know the cloud is all the rage these days, but honestly, once you leave the comfy confines of your WiFi environment and step into another country where the data rate is $0.31/MB you'll know why its important to carry your data with you, that's assuming you're able to get a connection at all.

      I use my devices constantly, take photos/videos of the job sites I'm on, view PDF instruction manuals, remote desktop into jobsite computers, transfer data between locations, listen to music, and occasionally watch movies on the plane.

      It is a different mindset, my Girlfriend for example uses her Gigantic Note 4 to play candy crush, stream music from pandora, and make phone calls. She is unlikely to need additional data (although the Note 4 has an SD slot).

      I think for people with a similar mindset to mine, the features are what set Android Boxes apart from iPhone competition. Otherwise if I wanted a capable device without them, I'd just buy an iPhone, because the features (limited) they do have, work at a level between great and excellent.

      For all interested, the 5X and 6P are great phones, I own both (I'm a bit of a gadget whore), but I prefer my Note 4 to the 6P or iPhone 6+, and the Galaxy S5 (despite being a bit old now) to the Galaxy S6, 5X, and iPhone 6, I would love the Galaxy S6 if it had SD card and removable battery. I feel like the capabilities of the Galaxy devices surpass the novelty of owning a "pure android" device. I've also subscribed to GoogleFi (which I do like), but again data prices are at the high end if you use a lot of it.

    • Bryan G. Feb 5, 2016 Link to comment

      Phone freezes up. You can't turn your phone off. You take the battery out that makes your phone turn off then you put the battery back in and turn the phone back on. And in the case of hot battery you take the battery and let it cool.

      Also with the expandable storage a lot people like have a lot of things on their phone apps, music, pics and other things that bog up your phone and not everyone has the option for removing things cause their used for work or school. Simple fact those two things were what made Samsung what it was.

    • steve faraj Apr 25, 2016 Link to comment

      I take alot of pictures and listen to alot of music. I have 128gb sd card and a 16gb phone. I would say that between both combined I have used more than half of the storage availabe. As the cameras in phones get better and the 4k video capabilities increase, so does the space required for them. A 5mp camera photo may be 2mb while a 21 mp camera takes closer to 10mb. So each time I snap a photo, my phone needs more and more space for the images. Unless google plans on making a standard 128gb version for cheap , this is a stupid restriction that serves no purpose. Why limit how many photos I can take or how many songs I can add to my phone? It makes no sense. I can see if there was a reason to limit someone but without justification this is just google being stubborn.

    • Ian Walker May 27, 2016 Link to comment

      Look at the comment above yours! When you don't get the advertised amount, 32 gb is NOT 32gb and it never will be. Bloatware from cell providers and phone company, OS, etc. I have 12gb in music alone. The need for an SD is completely vital and is also why alot of people come over to Android. #TheMoreYouKnow

    • guest 33 May 31, 2016 Link to comment

      Because smartphones are looked upon more and more as a PC. Even most Millennials are using mobile devices to do their tasks versus traditional laptops/desktops. Now, that being the case, would you rather buy a new 16/32 gigabyte hard drive for your PC or a 500gb - 1 terabyte?


  • Ajay Sharma Dec 21, 2015 Link to comment

    Good app

  • Paul Warner Dec 20, 2015 Link to comment

    They'll most likely put back the SD card and maybe the removable battery but then remove the 3.5mm audio jack..

    • guest 33 May 31, 2016 Link to comment

      Probably. It's always something give or take because god forbid some OEM finally gets it right across all points.

  • FlyingFiddle Dec 20, 2015 Link to comment

    Btw, Android manufacturers seem to be starting to forget what had allowed their differentiation from iPhone and iOS. Let's face it, both Android and iOS is sufficiently powerful in their own right. No stock rom had come quite close to the efficiency of pure Android, let along the refined iOS. Process power (Snapdragon, Exynos etc.) on single core performance had been playing catch up with Apple's Ax processor, but wins on multicore performance so let's call that even. App selection still isn't as great as most major apps choose iOS first for development. You can put better hardware in but that's reaching plateau as well, like the benefit of QHD display is not huge, and kinda hurting battery life. Apple lead the way in some hardware innovation as well, such as fingerprint scanner and 3D touch screen tech and Apple Pay. And in the design department, I'd say it's an even play field as both camp has great design language and it's more of a personal preference.

    So, there is this one thing that Apple determined NOT to give its user, replaceable battery and expandable memory. It's a no brainer that Android phone makers so design their phone around those advantages so keep their differentiation.

    • Juan López G. Dec 21, 2015 Link to comment

      "Apple lead the way in some hardware innovation as well, such as fingerprint scanner "
      False. The Motorola Atrix did that in 2011.

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