Where are the 2TB microSD cards?

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Ultra-high capacity microSD cards are a largely broken promise. The SD Association approved the SDXC specification in January 2009, which supports memory cards up to 2TB. Granted, that was a theoretical maximum at the time. It took the industry 10 years (!!!) to bring 1TB microSD cards to market and 2TB microSD cards just never materialized. Why is that? Turns out there are reasons and most of them are pretty straightforward.

Related: The best microSD cards you can get

Here’s why 2TB microSD cards might never hit the market.

Does microSD have a future?

MicroSD card slot stock photo 5

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Some believe that microSD cards are disappearing in cell phones, if they haven’t already. When Samsung launched the Galaxy S21 series earlier this year without support for expandable storage, many sounded the death knell for microSD. After all, if one of the world’s two biggest phone makers doesn’t support it, surely it’s on the verge of dying out, right? Not enough.

Case in point. Apple has never supported expandable storage in its iPhones. The company has traditionally locked customers into defined storage capacities and then used the difference to sell people the ability to store more photos, movies, and music. For example, today’s iPhone 13 Pro family is available in capacities of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. Those who are concerned that 128GB is not enough will spend the extra money for more capacity, a victory for Apple.

See also: The best Android phones with expandable memory

Samsung, on the other hand, has long supported the idea of ​​microSD cards – and still is. Sure, the company has removed the option from its 2021 flagships, but a huge percentage of its mid-range and entry-level pricing still includes microSD card slots. Just look at the Galaxy A13, A32 or A42.

Samsung is not alone. A myriad of affordable handsets still offer expandable storage. This allows manufacturers like Motorola, Nokia, and others to come up with phones with smaller amounts of built-in storage that cost less. Consumers remain price sensitive for phones in emerging markets. Reducing on-board storage helps reduce costs. MicroSD gives people who need more storage an option on devices like the Motorola G Power or the Nokia X100.

The SD Association sees a bright future for microSD cards.

But these only represent a business opportunity for microSD. It’s important to remember that mobile phones aren’t the only market for microSD cards. In fact, the SD Association sees a bright future for memory cards. He points out that several markets for microSD cards are still growing, including action cameras, drones, automotive multimedia systems, handheld game consoles, surveillance camera systems, 8K video capture devices, virtual reality headsets and much more.

Many high-end, mid-range and flagship smartphones start their internal storage at around 128GB, often eliminating the need for expandable storage. So while flagship phones have started to eschew removable storage for built-in options, microSD still has plenty of room to grow.

But what about 2TB microSD cards?

MicroSD card slot stock photo 3

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Have you purchased a microSD card recently? Cards with a capacity of 32 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB are plentiful and affordable. In fact, it’s amazing how cheap a 128GB card is these days. You can get one for $ 15 to $ 40, depending on the speed / class of the card.

Want a 1TB microSD card? The prices cover an even wider range. Depending on where you look, the cost of a 1TB microSD card ranges from $ 40 to $ 400. For $ 40 you’ll get a slow, outdated card from a brand you’ve never heard of, while at $ 400 you’ll get the fastest card available from a top brand like SanDisk. The average price right now is around $ 250 (although this appears to be skewed due to holiday sales.) That’s a lot of money to spend on an accessory for a phone that could cost $ 500 to $ 750.

Related: MicroSD Express is the fastest memory card format for phones

When we asked microSD card makers when we might see cards with higher capacities, the answer came down to basic economics.

“The technology for the 1TB cards is there and some competitors have implemented it,” Kingston said in an email to Android AuthorityHowever, the need for such large ‘temporary’ storage via memory cards remains a very small niche market (think in-flight multimedia displays), which only accounts for about 0.3% of the densities shipped. [worldwide]. As such, we are inclined to wait for the market to mature so that we can offer an affordable solution that meets the needs of our customers.

1TB cards represent only 0.3% of the global demand for memory cards.

Thus, 1TB cards represent only 0.3% of global demand for memory cards, according to Kingston. This means that 99.7% of the market is happy with cards of 512 GB and less. This leaves memory card makers with a very small addressable market of 1TB or more, a market so small that it is hardly worth targeting.

With so little consumer interest in cards at the 1TB tier, is it any wonder that cardmakers have ignored the 2TB tier? Plus, the cost would likely be shockingly high. With top-notch 1TB microSD cards running at $ 400, a 2TB version of the same card would surely cost $ 600, if not much more.

Like Kingston, Samsung does not currently like ultra high capacity memory cards. When asked, he said, “Samsung offers a full line of cards in a range of capacities that best meet current customer demands. For customers who need a higher capacity option, Samsung offers its family of portable SSDs that allow customers to easily transfer and store content on the go. In other words, Samsung is more interested in selling you an external hard drive than a high capacity microSD card.

All this to say that 2TB microSD cards don’t exist because no one asks for them. Quite simple.

Does your current phone have storage expansion?

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About Anne Wurtsbach

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