When the first generation of Windows Phones came out there were rumors about expandable storage and ultimately it came down to the Samsung Focus being the only phone that had expandable storage. It had caveats though. Once loaded you couldn’t remove the card because the phone treats the memory as one mass storage device. On top of that, there were quirks and only some cards were approved. Well I dove in head first and got the largest approved storage card I could – a 32gb class 4 Kingston card which gives me 40gb of total storage. Awesome. And initially that extra memory seemed to come without issues. Well, over time that’s not the case. There are two issues, one that’s less significant. I can’t upgrade my phone to the final Mango bits. I have Mango but the Samsung cleanup update won’t install because the phone times out when creating a backup. There’s too much storage and the only solution is removing files until it gets small enough to back up. It’s just annoying and I don’t have the patience for it so I haven’t been using the final bits. That seems something that Microsoft can get past. The second issue is a lot more significant. Over time as you use more of the storage and you’re sure that you’re relying exclusively on the SD card you run into significant slowdowns and hiccups. In fact I can hold my Focus next to a friends Focus (which doesn’t have an SD card installed) and you can see differences in performance. The most noticeable slowdown is when shooting video. After I take a video there’s a lag while it’s writing to memory (presumably). But it’s often in excess of a minute where the screen freezes and if the light was on then it stays on until it’s done. The device is effectively locked and this is an issue I’ve only seen on my phone and it wasn’t present at the beginning. I’m fairly sure this is directly linked to the SD card.

Now if you’re wondering why I like such a large SD card it’s for that exact reason – I want to be able to take HD video without carrying around a Flip and video takes up a good amount of my SD card. I’m going to have to delete it after it syncs to my PC which is annoying and unnecessary. It also underlies why Microsoft was so hesitant to allow SD cards at all. In the end, I was wrong and they were right. The performance of internal storage is simply superior to the speeds of most SD cards and those hiccups that SD cards lead to will be blamed on the OS when it’s not the OS at play – it’s the card itself.

So yeah, I take it all back. But with that I also think Windows Phones really need to start stepping up storage capacities and I hope that Nokia leads the way in selling some phones with tiered storage amounts at different price points.

Any of you with SD cards seeing the same issues I have?


  1. Well maybe if you spelled “windows” correctly you might get some results. I went out and bought a class 10 Patriot SD card for my Focus but it wasn’t compatible and wrecked the card. It’s strange that there’s an SD slot but SD cards still aren’t supported…

  2. A friend has a Sandisk installed, no issues.

    It’s ridiculous not having enough device storage. 32gb should very soon be the new standard minimum not 8gb (WTF Fall 2011 devices), if not this OS should be considered a fail. I’ve stuck with Windows because of business but sometimes it feels Apple is the only one interested in doing business.. Skydrive is not an option; I will not put sensitive documents in online storage. The extra steps to access them are a pain. Plus once you rely on Online services out come the monthly fees.

    It used to be if you carried a Windows Mobile device, you were a smart one because you could figure a way to have the least limitations and were blazing a path with technology. Now Windows Phone is the most limited. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate the smoothness in the OS design; it’s like no other. Device Storage is enough to have me looking for greener pastures.

  3. Damn, it used to be all about the user experience. But now I guess it’s all about storage. Maybe they should just make a thumb drive with a screen and call it a day. Sure, more is always better although I have almost half of my 16GB (really 14.5) still available after 1

  4. I still cry over my loss of WinMo 6.x. I wish they had continued to go forward with that OS.
    I know nobody agrees with me, but that is OK. That’s what many choices are all about.
    Just wish 6.x was still one of them.
    I took a step backwards with Android 1.6, but now at 2.2 on my primary device, the Dell Streak 5″ doing a little better, but worn out that OS and ready for an upgrade.
    I bought 2 Dell Streak 7″ WiFi for the house, running 3.2 and Android is starting to look better.
    Hoping 4.x ICS brings it all together.
    But stories like this just affirm my choice to leave Windows phone behind.

  5. @JRDEMASKUS: When did you ever own a Windows Phone? It seems like you went straight from WM to Android. There are a couple million people who did the same thing, many out of feeling unappreciated and betrayed.

    As a person who owns 3 different small businesses, communicates and collaborates with city leaders using SkyDrive as a means I can firmly say Online FTW! The extra steps that people mention is a smoke screen. My TITAN and my Surround are both 16 GB and i’ve had no issues with lack of space. I have a thousand songs on my Surround. Anything else i want to listen to I dial up my Zune Pass. Since i’m on AT&T i went with lower call minutes and took the savings and invested in the Zune Pass and put money away for another GB of data reserved just for music/youtube play.

  6. Never said I had WP. I went straight to android. “Because of stories like this”
    I am not interested in having it handed to me and being told “use it this way”
    I want to pick it up and use it in a manner of my choosing.
    Unfortunately I have been reading tech blogs for years, and believed what they said when they told me WinMo was not going to be the same. I voted with my wallet and made another choice. Maybe I was scared off too easy? Maybe irresponsible writers gave me bad information? Maybe WP took too long to come out and I had already bought a new device because my previous one died? I really wanted to wait and see for myself.
    It is good that you are happy with your decision to go with WP.
    Thank God we are allowed to make our own choices.
    I keep coming back here for intelligent conversation, and to learn, not to flame or be flamed for my OS choice.

  7. @JrDemaskus – what makes you think Android doesn’t have the same issues? The only difference is that Android always locks up and runs like crap so it’s hard to tell if its’ the OS or the card. With WP7 we know it’s not the OS…

  8. While I know what you are saying, my experiences have been about the same as they were with WinMo in freezes and crashes.But much less and recovery is quick.
    I know that doesn’t sound good, but these are “Walkie talkies” mated with computers.
    I am on a Dell Streak 5, a well built device, with very little extra. I still don’t need root or a custom ROM, so I haven’t messed it up.
    I know I won’t see any more updates, officially, but it is good where it is.
    While I miss Windows OS, I am hopeful android will continue to fill the void, and take me where I thought windows should have gone.
    I also do not use my device for real work much anymore and my needs may be different.
    Thanks for the opportunity to share. And I am interested in hearing more and honest info from other OS users.

  9. Oh yea, No issues here with the SD card.
    My slow downs seem to relate to re-aquiring a cell signal, as I move in and out of coverage all day, the AT+T data connection doesn’t like that. 95% of my problems are related to that. Toggle airplane mode when it doesn’t come back.
    The other is an app that force closes. Once or twice a week. No recovery time needed.
    How does WP do with At+t data reconnect?

  10. I also have a Samsung Focus with a 32gb card and it works perfectly : as fast and smooth as it was without the card.

    I like the way WP7 use the card memory as an upgrade to the phone memory and see the whole thing as one single storage ! It is really way more efficient than what I can see with Android or Symbian phones (which both suffer of long loading times…), and the user don’t have to know if the file he is looking for is stored into one memory or the other.

    The only issue is that your need for this specific usage the right kind of MicroSD card and Microsoft never told officially what where the requirements. Looking at WP7 community it seems that the only compatible cards are SOME 2 and 4 models of MicroSD. If you find the right one : it works perfectly, but if you do not …it’s like your phone memory is not working properly.

    Now that I’m using mostly my Nokia Lumia 800 ‘Cyan’, I really miss my Focus’s 40gb… (but of course not the crappy camera nor the cheap Samsung plastic).

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