The "No MicroSD" Debate | webOS Nation

The "No MicroSD" Debate

by Jennifer Chappell Mon, 09 Feb 2009 11:19 am EST

It didn't take long after the Palm Pre was announced at CES for folks to realize what a big hit that Palm has on their hands. Also soon realized was that the Pre doesn't have a microSD card slot. I believe there might have been a little confusion at first when some folks thought that someone mentioned an SD card slot during one of the Pre demonstrations. But as soon as the truth was realized, our forum members began to talk about the lack of the microSD card slot.

Some people think that Palm made a mistake by not including a microSD card slot, and some people don't think it's a big deal.
So, we have some back and forth, a sort of debate, going on in the Pre forums where there are some great opinions coming out of both corners.

Let's look at some of the debating in the forums. We'll start with the thread "Has WIRELESS charging and Micro SD/USB ports". This thread was started on the day that Palm first announced the Pre. And so begins the great "No microSD in the Pre" debate. The main two reasons for people wanting a microSD card slot in the Pre according to this and most of the other pertaining threads is so that a user can "backup their stuff" on an external card and so that the user will have "extra room for media".

The folks who don't think the lack of SD storage is a deal breaker figure that the Pre's 8GB on board will be sufficient. Some say that the Pre will sync with the Cloud and will backup what is needed. Forum member Rhody notes that "a PC application could backup/restore the contents of the Pre to your computer."

Forum member letsogflyers81 responds:

"Yes but not when you're away from home and not near a computer. That's what's great about memory cards and programs that can backup to, and restore from them."

Forum member ivhs72 says that he's concerned about the lack of any expansion card functionality as he had an 8GB iPhone that was okay but filled up rather quickly once he started putting GPS data, maps, documents and apps on it. He also says that the ability to back up to an external card is an essential feature.


When I got my first iPhone, I never really gave all that much thought to the fact that it didn't have an SD card slot. I guess one reason was that, at the time, 4GB seemed like plenty of memory. When I got my second iPhone, I never thought a single thing about it not having an SD card slot. I had 16GB on board, plus the fact that, well, it was an iPhone, and iPhones just don't come with SD card slots. But... all of my previous Palm PDA's and smartphones have had SD card slots, whether I used them or not. So I guess I can see how those loyal to Palm who are used to having an SD card slot, especially those putting them to great use day in and day out, would have a problem with the Pre not having the card slot. Most of those folks have always had an SD card to use for backups, and to use for loading apps and for videos and music. They are used to having that choice.

Regarding our calendars, contacts, and email going to the clouds, forum member Q notes that some people don't use Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, or they work somewhere with an Exchange server:

Some of us say "I don't want all my data out there somewhere--I want it here, locally, where I can control it." (I admit that I only feel a little bit that way--some people I've talked to really feel it strongly.) And these people are current Palm users, who do want a new compatible device.

Another great debate thread is "Palm employee discusses lack of microSD at Facebook".  The Palm Official blog posted a  profile on Matt Crowley who is a Product Manager at Palm. The article linked to Palm's Facebook page where Matt was doing a week long Q&A. Naturally, someone asked Matt why Palm wasn't including a microSD slot on the Palm Pre. TreoCentral forum member nlowhor saw the discussion at Facebook and linked to it in the Pre forums.

So, what was Matt's answer to the question? Well, he said that 'Design' was the highest goal on the Pre project and the physical size of the Pre would have been compromised if Palm had added another physical component. Matt said that "just a millimeter can seriously impact the curvature of the design in a way that minimizes the design intent".

Crowley also noted that the advantage of embedded memory, 8GB in this case, is that you have a large amount of storage out of the box for media and files. But Crowley did say that he knows that 8GB wouldn't be considered a large amount of storage for all people. Palm realizes that not everyone will be happy, but excluding the external card storage was one of the decisions necessary and that the product goals help to define those decisions.

And some of our forum members responed to those reasons, arguing that they have thin phones that have microSD slots. And member jmg_P10S21 brings up a good point:

"no room for a MicroSD? Where will they find the room for a SIM card on a GSM Pre?
(I would not care if it's underneath the battery, it would be a PITA and NOT ideal in such a nicely thought out Pre design though...)"

The iPhone not having a storage card slot came up in this thread also. mikah912 mentioned that over 10 million people have paid for a sexy-looking device with nothing but onboard storage and love it. Plus, "These are the type of consumers Palm needs to attract to grow and stay alive. So having a good amount of onboard storage should be and is a priority over the relatively small number of users filling up MicroSD cards with music, movies, and app backups."

The Phone Diva responded that Apple getting away with it doesn't mean that Palm can. She also said that 8GB is too low for 2009 and that phones supporting up to 32GB card are now out. And she added: "If Palm had done 16GB, that may have stopped much of the "no microSD slot" complaints."  She has more to say, and so do many others, so head over to that thread and read all the comments.

Another thread about the lack of a microSD slot in the Pre was started by Vyruz Reaper. He got to thinking about the fact that the biggest SD he has in a 4GB that he uses in his Treo 800w. So he sort of got over the Pre not having that microSD slot. Vyruz Reaper was curious about the biggest microSD card size that the other forum members have so he created a poll. The majority of the people (39.31%) who voted in the poll own an 8GB microSD card. 28.28% own a 4GB microSD card.

Forum member schnoid brings up a good point in the thread about whether or not 8GBs would be enough:

"As for the argument about not needing more than 8GB, I think this is completely meaningless. The main problem with that argument is that to this day palm has yet to release a phone that was truly meant to be used as a media player. My 755p and even the Treo Pro are NOT media player devices. I have kinoma and it's a great app, but it still doesn't encourage me to use it as a standard media player. On the other hand, the Pre is positioned to have similar media playback capabilities to the iPhone and will support even more formats. That combined with a true multitasking capability will encourage the use of the Pre as a music player and video player. Assuming it's true that many people don't have 8GB of music (which I think is becoming less and less true as more people convert their CD collections and download songs) there is still the question of video storage. I believe movies that are down sized to the iPhone/Pre resolution are generally between 200-400MB. That basically means that if you have a few gigs of music, you might be able to fit 10 or so videos on the Pre. I know this seems like a lot, but if you consider all the data, apps, and potentially stuff like GPS maps, you become very limited on space. Again this isn't necessary for most of us with our current phones, but with the Pre it will be REALLY easy to fill up that space."

I use my iPhone as my media player and I rely on having the 16GB of storage since I watch so many videos. Like schnoid says, we haven't had a Palm smartphone yet that is meant to be a media player device. I can imagine that if I had a Pre and wanted to start watching videos on it like I do my iPhone, I would definitely want more than 8GB. But, let's remember that the Pre is only the first device running on WebOS, so there will most likely be other devices that will have more memory. And there's no telling what other cool new features they might have also.

Below are some more interesting microSD card threads in the Pre forums:

Lots of people get the feeling that Palm is going to mimic Apple and release different versions of the Pre, each having a different amount of memory. So, are we going to see the 8GB Pre followed by 16GB and 32GB models?

Is the lack of a microSD slot a deal breaker for you? It won't be for me because I am weak. I am a gadget freak. And I know that I'm not the only one.  Chime in and let us know your thoughts on the lack of a microSD slot on the Pre.  There are plenty of threads to choose from. ;-)