The Android SD card débâcle Explained
I recently wrote an article about my passionate rant vis-à-vis the relevance of SD cards in Android Phones, after several mails and feedback from our readers, I have been forced to give an encore remix kind of article to expound on the burning topic.
One thing should be elucidated, people love lots of storage space in their Android phones and if it means getting affordable external storage, they will do so. First off, you have the physical SD cards which is analogous to an external storage, some devices support them and most of them you cannot install applications too. Way back in Android 2.3 Gingerbread, if you installed an app to your SD card, you could not utilize any of the widgets — because they had to be on the internal phone memory. In the latest versions of Android they took out the ability to install any app on the SD unless you have an OEM like Samsung to enable that feature.
There are SD cards that are not SD cards
To confuse things even more, there are SD cards that are not SD cards, I know weird isn’t it? They are not removable and are integrated into the system essentially soldered onto the circuit board of the phone. A lot of limitations like those of external memory exist there as well meaning the inability to install apps on them; but because they are more stable in that sense that they are not removable, OEMs can manipulate app installation on these SD cards.
And finally there is internal storage, where the Android Operating System is installed. We all know that Android is based on Linux, you have different segments of the disk, and that disk in Linux doesn’t have to be the same Physical media, so you can set up a partition — one on the physical memory and another on the internal SD card and once mapped accordingly everything will be fine. And this the implementation most Android OEMs have done.
The system partition is what you have to think about when you have a ROM or a System update. That is where the Operating system of the Phone resides where the whole bunch of stuff goes and is protected with several layers of security around it so that you don’t get hacked and you don’t mess with it. Except that most Android OEMs put a lot of crap in there so when you get an over-the-air (OTA) update say from the Google Play Store, in most cases it’s not overwriting the stuff that is in the system partition. It basically just puts a new pointer thus wasting space after updates. This is an Android pain I really hate and really the only way around it is by rooting your phone (something I only recommend as a last resort) : Is This will help strip out what you don’t want, so basically a stable custom ROM is your salvation here and there is really no pretty way to put it.
This is a feature of Linux that Android inherited and it’s a very important feature, one that most OEMs don’t seem to understand because they are driven by marketing rather than by us geeks. Did anyone say SAMSUNG?
The writer drops the mic and walks away.