Do Android phones have SD cards?

Many Android phones do have SD card slots, allowing you to expand the phone’s storage capacity. However, some newer Android models are being released without SD card slots, opting for built-in, non-expandable storage instead. There are pros and cons to both options that are worth considering when choosing an Android phone.

Quick Answer

The quick answer is: some Android phones have SD card slots and some don’t. Expandable storage via an SD card used to be very common on Android phones, but has become less prevalent over the last few years, especially on higher-end models. However, there are still many budget and mid-range Android phones that offer SD card slots for expanded storage.

The Trend Away from SD Cards

Up until around 2016, the majority of Android phones had microSD card slots that allowed you to insert an SD card to increase the phone’s storage capacity. However, many phone manufacturers have been moving away from expandable storage in recent years.

For example, Google’s Pixel phones have never had SD card slots. Samsung, which long offered SD card expansion even on its high-end phones, started removing the feature from models like the Galaxy S6 and Note 5 in 2015. Other manufacturers like Motorola, HTC, and Sony have also gradually moved away from SD cards in their flagship phones.

There are a few reasons manufacturers have opted to remove expandable storage from many Android phones:

  • Design simplicity – Removing the SD card slot allows for sleeker, more seamless phone designs without the need for an external card slot.
  • Push towards cloud storage – With cloud storage services like Google Drive widely available, some manufacturers see external SD cards as less necessary.
  • Encourage use of streaming services – Streaming music and video services reduce the need for large amounts of external storage.

Due to these factors, SD card slots are now rare on high-end Android flagships from most major brands. You’ll mainly find microSD expansion on budget and mid-range Android phones.

Advantages of SD Card Slots

Despite the trend away from expandable storage, SD card slots still offer some important benefits for many Android users:

  • More affordable storage expansion – Up to 1TB microSD cards are available, allowing massive storage expansion for a fraction of the cost of built-in storage.
  • Offload photos/videos from internal storage – You can store your growing photo/video collection on the SD card rather than filling up limited internal storage.
  • Easily transfer files between devices – SD cards make it simple to transfer files from your phone to a computer or another device.
  • Use apps that require SD storage – Some apps will only work properly if installed on SD card storage.
  • Safety net if internal storage fails – If your phone’s internal storage gets corrupted or damaged, the SD card data is unaffected.

For these reasons, many budget and mid-range Android buyers still view SD card slots as an important feature when choosing a phone. Being able to add a 512GB or 1TB SDXC card is a huge benefit for people who can’t afford phones with massive internal storage.

Downsides of Removable Storage

On the other hand, device manufacturers argue that removable SD card storage has some disadvantages that prompted its removal from high-end models:

  • Slower performance – SD card storage is generally slower than built-in, UFS (Universal Flash Storage) used in modern high-end phones.
  • Fragmentation issues – Having apps and data split between internal and external storage can cause performance issues over time.
  • Less reliable than internal storage – SD cards are more prone to corruption and technical issues than high-quality internal storage modules.
  • Easier to lose and damage – Being removable, SD cards are easier to lose and can be damaged if the card slot sustains physical damage.

Phone manufacturers prefer consistent, high-speed internal storage for the best performance and stability. For these reasons, high-end Android phones tend to use UFS or NVMe internal storage modules rather than relying on external SD cards.

What About Adoptable Storage?

To help address some of the drawbacks of SD cards while still providing expandable storage, Google introduced the “Adoptable Storage” feature in Android 6.0 Marshmallow. This allows you to format an SD card and integrate it into the internal storage.

Adoptable Storage makes the SD card act like internal storage, with full-speed performance and the ability to install apps and games. However, it also carries some downsides:

  • The SD card is formatted and encrypted, and can only be read by that device.
  • Removing the SD card causes apps installed on it to be unavailable until it’s re-inserted.
  • There is still potential for performance issues when apps and data are split across storage devices.

Because of these factors, few OEMs adopted the Adoptable Storage feature. It is not widely supported and generally not recommended except for advanced users who understand the implications.

Types of SD Cards

If you have an Android phone with a microSD card slot, you’ll need to choose what size and type of SD card to get. Here are some things to consider:


SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) cards provide up to 32GB of storage, while SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity) cards can store up to 2TB. Nearly all modern Android phones support SDXC.

Speed Rating

Higher speed ratings indicate faster read/write speeds. Cards rated UHS-I U3 or UHS-II U3 are the fastest available. Look for one of these ratings if your phone supports it.

Brand Name vs Generic

Reputable brand name SD cards from Samsung, SanDisk, or Kingston generally have better performance consistency and reliability than no-name generic cards.

Counterfeit Cards

Watch out for counterfeit memory cards being sold under the guise of major brands. Always buy from reputable retailers to avoid fake cards.

Popular Android Phones With SD Slots

While less common on flagship phones, many budget and mid-range Android devices still offer microSD card slots. Here are some popular models that support expanded storage:

Phone SD Card Support
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G Up to 1TB
Motorola Moto G Power (2022) Up to 512GB
TCL 20 Pro 5G Up to 256GB
OnePlus Nord N20 Up to 1TB
Nokia G10 Up to 512GB

These are just a few examples of popular mid-range Android phones from 2022-2023 that still offer microSD card expansion. There are many other options across a range of price points.

Popular Android Phones Without SD Slots

On the other hand, here are some examples of recent Android flagships that do NOT have SD card slots:

  • Google Pixel 7 & 7 Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy S22, S22+, S22 Ultra
  • OnePlus 10 Pro
  • Xiaomi 12
  • Oppo Find X5
  • Vivo X80

As you can see, nearly all major flagship Android phones now rely entirely on internal storage without microSD expansion. Most of these models offer 128GB base storage, with 256GB or 512GB options available for increased capacity.

Using OTG Storage Devices

If your Android phone doesn’t have an SD card slot, you can still augment storage using USB OTG (On-The-Go) devices. These tiny USB drives plug into your phone’s USB-C or microUSB port to add storage or serve other functions.

For example, you can:

  • Plug in a USB flash drive to access media files or documents.
  • Connect a portable SSD for large capacity external storage.
  • Use a USB OTG adapter to plug in peripherals like a mouse, keyboard, or Ethernet adapter.

Nearly all modern Android phones support USB OTG. Just make sure you get the right connector (USB-C or microUSB) for your particular device.

Cloud Storage Alternatives

If you prefer to avoid physical media entirely, cloud storage services offer another way to expand your phone’s effective storage without using SD cards or USB drives.

Options like Google One, Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud, and Dropbox allow you to store photos, videos, documents, and other files in the cloud. Smartphone apps let you access these cloud files from your device as needed.

With mobile data and WiFi widely available, cloud services provide ubiquitous access without filling up your limited local storage. They make it easy to offload photos and videos from your phone after capturing them.

Of course, cloud storage does require an ongoing subscription fee. But with services like Google One offering 100GB for just $2/month, it can be cost effective depending on your usage needs.


While SD card slots are disappearing from many high-end Android phones, removable microSD storage remains a key feature for budget and mid-range models. There are still several important benefits to having external storage expansion:

  • Cheaply add massive storage (up to 1TB)
  • Keep media separate from internal storage
  • Easily transfer files between devices

However, SD cards can suffer from slower speeds and reliability issues compared to high-quality internal storage. Phone makers are moving toward built-in UFS/NVMe storage for optimal performance.

For flagship Android devices without SD slots, your options are limited internal capacity, OTG USB storage, or cloud storage services. There are pros and cons to each approach.

Ultimately there is no universally superior option. The right storage configuration depends on your budget, usage needs, and preferences. Carefully weigh up all these factors when choosing your next Android phone.