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I Take It All Back–Windows Phones Should Not Have SD Cards

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?