Does S21 have SD card?

The Samsung Galaxy S21 series of flagship smartphones, which includes the S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra models, does not have a microSD card slot for expandable storage. This was a controversial decision by Samsung when the S21 was released in January 2021, as previous Galaxy S models included the option to augment the built-in storage with a microSD card.


No, the Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra do not have a microSD card slot. These phones only offer the internal storage that comes with the device. There is no option to expand the storage via a microSD card.

S21 Storage Options

Since there is no microSD card slot, your only storage options are the internal storage configurations offered for each S21 model:

  • Galaxy S21 – 128GB or 256GB
  • Galaxy S21 Plus – 128GB or 256GB
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra – 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB

So when purchasing an S21, you have to choose the storage capacity carefully based on your needs, as there is no way to add more storage later if you run out of space.

Previous Galaxy S Models Had MicroSD

What made the omission of the microSD card slot on the S21 series so controversial is that it had been a staple feature of previous Galaxy S models. Here’s a look back at SD card support on Galaxy S phones:

Galaxy S Model MicroSD Card Slot?
Galaxy S7 Yes
Galaxy S8 Yes
Galaxy S9 Yes
Galaxy S10 Yes
Galaxy S20 No
Galaxy S21 No

As you can see, the S6 through S10 models all allowed storage expansion with a microSD card. The change first came with the S20 series in 2020, which removed the card slot. That continued with the S21 series in 2021.

Why Remove the MicroSD Card Slot?

There are a few reasons Samsung may have decided to get rid of the microSD card slot starting with the S20 and S21 series:

  • Push towards larger built-in storage – By removing microSD support, Samsung can nudge users towards paying for larger internal storage capacities, which are more profitable for Samsung.
  • Water resistance – The microSD slot takes up space in the phone’s body and makes waterproofing more challenging.
  • Cheap storage prices – With the cost of flash storage declining over time, Samsung can offer larger baseline capacities for less money.

Of course, the counterargument is that microSD support allows consumers to augment the built-in storage later at a lower cost than Samsung charges for upgraded storage tiers.

Workarounds for Lack of MicroSD

If you end up with an S21 and find the built-in storage too limiting, here are some potential workarounds:

  • Use cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox to store files externally.
  • Offload photos/videos regularly to a computer or external hard drive.
  • Stream music and videos from apps like Spotify and Netflix instead of downloading them locally.
  • Uninstall apps you are no longer using to free up space.

However, there is no way to directly expand the internal storage of an S21 with a microSD card due to the hardware limitations.

What About the S22?

Now that the Galaxy S22 series has been released in 2022, many are wondering if microSD card support made a return. Unfortunately, the answer is no – the Galaxy S22, S22 Plus, and S22 Ultra all lack a microSD card slot, just like their S21 predecessors.

Here is a summary of the storage options on the S22 line:

Galaxy S22 Model Storage Options
Galaxy S22 128GB or 256GB
Galaxy S22 Plus 128GB or 256GB
Galaxy S22 Ultra 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB

As you can see, the S22 series continues the trend of built-in storage only, no microSD card slot. This reinforces that Samsung seems committed to moving away from external storage expansions going forward.

The Benefits of Built-In Storage

While many power users lament the loss of the microSD slot, there are some benefits to built-in storage that is not user expandable:

  • Better performance – Built-in storage is often faster than microSD cards, especially for high-bandwidth activities like 4K video recording.
  • More reliable – External microSD cards can sometimes become corrupted or fail, while built-in storage is more dependable.
  • Less confusion for users – Having just one storage pool can be simpler than managing internal and external storage.

Phone manufacturers seem to be moving towards prioritizing these benefits over microSD expandability as storage capacities continue to increase.

Streaming Media Reduces Local Storage Needs

Another factor that reduces the need for expandable storage is the rise of media streaming from services like Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Apple Music. With unlimited access to tens of millions of songs and videos available instantly via streaming, people are less reliant on downloads and local storage.

Back in the days of MP3 players like the iPod Classic, having expandable storage made more sense because you needed huge local capacity to carry around your media library. But streaming has disrupted that need for massive local storage.

Cloud Storage Provides Alternatives

The ubiquity of cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive, and Box is another factor reducing the need for expandable local storage. Anything that doesn’t need high-speed local access can be stored in the cloud reliably.

For example, photos and videos are often prime candidates for cloud storage instead of filling up your limited phone capacity. Apple iCloud offers optimized iPhone storage that seamlessly uploads photos to the cloud to free up space.

On-Device AI Requires More Built-In Space

One downside of cloud dependence is needing an internet connection to access content remotely. But phones are also getting much smarter about managing their local storage intelligently.

On-device artificial intelligence can optimize storage by detecting unused apps, offloading unused data, deduplicating files, and compressing data. This AI management means less wasted space and more efficient use of the built-in capacity.

Workarounds Have Trade-Offs

While there are certainly workarounds to limited storage like cloud services and streaming, these solutions also involve trade-offs:

  • Cloud storage requires internet access and continuous subscriptions for large capacity.
  • Streaming also requires an internet connection and continuous paid subscriptions to multiple services.
  • Offloading to computers requires regularly connecting the phone to another device.
  • Uninstalling apps or media means they are no longer readily accessible.

MicroSD card slots allowed truly offline, on-demand expansion at a relatively low cost. But it seems the smartphone industry is forcing users towards more integrated cloud and streaming approaches rather than physical local storage expansion.

Future Phones Unlikely to Have MicroSD

Barring an unexpected about-face, it seems very unlikely that Samsung (or other major manufacturers like Apple and Google) will return to including microSD slots in flagship phones.

Here are some signs pointing towards microSD cards never returning to Galaxy S models and other top smartphones:

  • Multiple generations (S20, S21, S22) have now omitted the feature.
  • Other brands like Apple and Google have also abandoned the slots.
  • There are viable workarounds via streaming and cloud storage.
  • On-device AI is improving built-in storage efficiency.

While some power users will continue to demand external storage expandability, the smartphone market appears headed towards built-in-only storage across the industry.

Built-In Storage Capacities Will Continue Increasing

Despite the removal of microSD slots, built-in smartphone storage capacities will likely continue increasing each generation. This means consumers will get more usable space without expandability:

  • Entry-level phones now start at 32GB or 64GB baseline, not 16GB.
  • 128GB is becoming the most common phone storage configuration.
  • 256GB options are more affordable and common on mid-range devices.
  • 512GB and above configurations are available on many flagship devices.

As component prices decline over time, it’s likely base storage tiers will increase. Of course, this still puts pressure on users to choose adequate capacity upfront.

Cloud and Streaming Will Be Emphasized

If microSD slots are gone for good on leading smartphones, you can expect companies like Apple, Samsung and Google to increasingly emphasize cloud storage and streaming media as alternatives:

  • Cloud services will be tightly integrated and potentially free or discounted.
  • Streaming via 5G connectivity will enable massive media libraries.
  • On-device AI will better optimize storage habits and efficiency.

This may allow smartphone brands to keep storage capacities lower or more profitable. But it depends on reliable connectivity and subscription services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use an external USB-C drive with an S21?

Some users wonder if external USB-C drives can replace a microSD card for storage expansion. Unfortunately, this is not possible on the Galaxy S21. The S21 does support USB OTG for accessing files on flash drives or hard drives. But you cannot use an external drive to actually expand the usable storage of the phone.

Can I use an external microSD reader with the S21?

Similarly, you cannot use a microSD card reader or adapter to “trick” the S21 into supporting expandable storage. Even with a USB-C SD card reader, you still cannot directly expand the internal storage due to software limitations.

Does the S21 support USB OTG?

Yes, you can connect external storage like flash drives to the Galaxy S21 via USB On-The-Go. This allows you to access media files and documents. But you cannot install apps to external storage or migrate internal data out using the OTG connection.

Can I use the cloud instead of a microSD card?

Cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud are the best alternative to expanding internal storage. By keeping files in the cloud, you save local capacity without needing a microSD card. However, this requires reliable internet access to stream or sync your cloud content.

What are the downsides to built-in storage?

The disadvantages of relying on only built-in storage are:

  • No ability to expand storage later if you run out.
  • Forced to decide capacity upfront when purchasing.
  • Potential need to pay high premiums for larger capacities.
  • No offline storage expansion option.

Should I buy the largest storage option as a precaution?

If you can afford it, buying the highest initial storage capacity available for your S21 model provides the most future-proofing. However, it comes at a high premium cost. Another option is to rely on the cloud and streaming to supplement your storage needs after purchase. But internet access becomes critical.

What if I run out of storage space on my S21?

If you purchased an S21 with lower capacity and find yourself running low on storage, your options are limited. You’ll need to rely on cloud services and streaming while removing unused apps, photos, and videos to free up space. Upgrading to a model with higher capacity would require purchasing a new device.


It’s clear that Samsung made a deliberate choice to remove microSD card expansion from the Galaxy S21 lineup and other recent models. This forces customers to carefully consider their storage needs upfront when purchasing. With no way to add removable storage later, power users have lamented the loss of flexibility.

However, Samsung and other brands seem intent on driving demand towards built-in storage. Alternatives like cloud syncing, streaming media, and on-device AI optimization help compensate but come with connectivity and subscription requirements. It remains to be seen whether consumer backlash will eventually convince brands to re-introduce external storage given its continued popularity among power users.