Google doesn’t like expandable storage. The Android maker has long argued that the presence of two different types of storage on a smartphone makes it a confusing prospect for the end user, but if we look at the business side of things, it’s clearly Google’s love for and dependence on the cloud that has dictated its decision to not add support for expandable storage on Nexus (and its new Pixel) devices. But Android itself has supported external storage for a long time, and with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Google came up with the adoptable storage feature to allow users to treat their device’s internal and external storage as one and the same.
Adoptable storage is important because, by default, Android doesn’t support installation of apps directly to the external storage. As a result, anything you download must go to the internal storage before it can be moved to the SD card. On devices with low internal storage, this can pose a problem as such devices might not have the space required for the initial install of an app on the internal storage. Adoptable storage fixes this by treating the external storage as part of the internal space, and it’s a feature that’s a boon on low-end smartphones and something nice to have on mid-range and high-end phones.
When the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge came out without support for adoptable storage, Samsung said it decided to skip the feature as users like to use their microSD cards for transferring files between different devices. Since adoptable storage formats the microSD card to a file system that isn’t supported (not by default) on smartphones, tablets and other such devices, Samsung’s reasoning was certainly a logical one. But at the same time, by completely taking away the option of adoptable storage, Samsung is taking away a major convenience, especially for users of affordable phones.
We have written before how Samsung needs to stop making phones with 8GB of internal storage, but even on devices with 16GB of storage out of the box, running into a situation where you don’t have enough space on the device for installing a new app or game isn’t uncommon. I certainly ran into this issue on the Galaxy J7 Prime. My J7 Prime is only a review unit on which I’ve installed all of the apps that I have on my personal device, and if I can run into the storage block on a device that is only with me for a few days, I can’t imagine how often it would be a problem for those who have to use such a device for months and maybe years before they upgrade/buy a new smartphone.
Adoptable storage is the best thing to have happened to Android’s implementation of expandable storage, and it’s just not acceptable that Samsung isn’t putting the feature at least on its affordable and low-end handsets. Yes, formatting a microSD card so that it doesn’t work with any device without requiring another format (and consequent loss of data) could be confusing and problematic for many, but there is no excuse for not putting in the feature and letting the users decide whether they want to take the risk or not.
It’s especially damning considering Samsung still has smartphones out on the market with a paltry 8GB of internal storage, and I certainly hope the company sees sense and brings adoptable storage to its devices in the future. It’s one thing customizing Android to add new and useful functionality on top of Google’s vanilla version of the OS, but it’s certainly not acceptable to remove features that are a part of Android by default, and considerably useful ones at that.