Samsung is all set to unveil its Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ in less than 2 hours (11am EDT), and we’ve seen plenty of leaked images to know quite a lot about the phones before the big unveil. One feature that has been discussed to no end concerns the lack of a microSD card slot on the upcoming Galaxy Note, a first for what was a staple signature trademark for the Korean manufacturer.
I’ve spent the last several weeks leading up to today’s launch talking with consumers all across the Web who are discouraged because of the lack of a microSD card in the Galaxy Note 5. Many consumers feel that the Galaxy Note 5 is a productivity device, and one can be more productive with a microSD card and expandable storage than without. For many, it seems counterproductive to have a productivity device without expandable storage.
And yet, even with a microSD card slot, there are things that can’t be added to the microSD card. Take apps, for example: some individuals aren’t app-hungry and would rather save photos to their device storage. Unfortunately, you can’t add many apps to the microSD card; only a few are permitted on expandable storage. MicroSD cards are only a success when it comes to saving screenshots, photos, movies, TV shows, and music. When it comes to saving apps and using apps, it presents a problem. And when you update an app, it becomes even more problematic.
Samsung has long used microSD cards, but only at this Spring’s I/O 2015 event did Google (now a small, mobile company within the conglomerate known as Alphabet) decide to provide native expandable storage support within the Android M update. Now, Motorola has announced its Moto X Style, by the way, with a microSD card slot for the first time in light of the coming Android update that will arrive with the introduction of the Huawei Nexus and LG Nexus (2015).
Samsung’s decision to remove microSD card slots may have had something to do with Google’s lack of support for the feature for the last few years, and it’s terrible to see Google now add something that the company cared very little about until now. It seems to have become a new priority for Google only because Google wants to beat Samsung in the smartphone race and thought to add the feature to win over angry Samsung customers. And the sad fact is that Android belongs to Google – so the company can do whatever it wants with the OS. Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note devices run Android, but Samsung has no control over what Android will or won’t allow.
Samsung’s decision to remove the expandable storage in the Galaxy S6, S6 edge, and Galaxy Note 5 was done to advance its smartphones, making these devices faster, more secure, and more capable – but this decision came with inevitable consequences. It’s very likely the case that Samsung knew the decision would upset a large number of customers but did it because Google never played nice with microSD cards and card slots within Android. The company can’t “foretell the future” with regard to what Google will or won’t do.
So, we now have a situation where the most prestigious smartphone of the year, the Galaxy Note 5, won’t have the coveted microSD card slot for many customers. Already, there are quite a few contemplating that they’ll pick up an LG G4 or an LG smartphone to be announced later this year (just a rumor for now) simply because Samsung abandoned expandable storage.
But at the end of the day, Samsung is like all other Android OEMs: its hands are tied behind its back when it comes to taking on Google. Samsung is an Android manufacturer, as is Sony, LG, and HTC. Despite Samsung’s decision to maintain SD card slots, Google said “no” to allowing full expandable storage capabilities year after year. Is it Samsung’s fault now that Google has decided to play nice with a feature Google’s despised for years? Not at all.
When the Galaxy Note 5 is announced today in New York City, it will be the finest smartphone Samsung’s ever made, the best on the market yet, but it will also bear the marks of what happens when you’re an Android OEM. Unfortunately, Samsung has to play nice with Google because Google holds the key to the metaphorical “castle.” If the castle belongs to Google, and Samsung is merely a guest, how can the “guest” be held responsible for the actions of the owner?