Apple may have been right all along with the iPhone, at least according to the recent actions of several top Android device makers. There’s one smartphone feature that’s still important to many outspoken shoppers who choose Android over iPhone, but now that feature seems to be disappearing from flagship handsets in favor of an approach more like the one Apple has been taking since it first launched the iPhone in 2007.
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No iPhone model to date offered users access to either a microSD slot or a removable battery, which are hallmarks for many Android devices, including flagship handsets. However, these features will disappear in the future, Xiaomi vice president of International Hugo Barra told Engadget, specifically focusing on explaining why you shouldn’t care about microSD support on top devices.
The Galaxy S6 is the first Samsung flagship handset that doesn’t have either microSD support or a user-replaceable battery. HTC tried pulling the same stunt two years ago with the first HTC One model, but the company was then forced to reintroduce microSD support in subsequent versions
Xiaomi has been doing the same thing for a while now, removing microSD support at least with flagship devices, and the reason appears to be quite simple.
“For high performance devices, we are fundamentally against an SD card slot,” Barra said.
“You think you’re buying like a Kingston or a SanDisk but you’re actually not, and they’re extremely poor quality, they’re slow, they sometimes just stop working, and it gives people huge number of issues, apps crashing all the time, users losing data, a lot of basically complaints and customer frustration,” he added. “It’s gonna be a while before you finally accept that maybe the reason why it’s not performing is because you put in an SD card, right? You’re gonna blame the phone, you’re gonna blame the manufacturer, you’re gonna shout and scream and try to get it fixed, so many different ways until you say, ‘Actually, let me just take the SD card out and see what happens.'”
“It is a trend: SD cards will disappear,” Barra noted. “You should basically not expect SD card slots in any of our flagships.”
This isn’t necessarily a surprising stance from the former Google executive. After all, Google’s Nexus devices also ship without microSD support.
Barra said that there’s low demand for replaceable batteries as well, according to data obtained by the company, and customers are more likely to purchase affordable external battery packs instead.
On the other hand, entry-level to mid-range models will still continue to ship with SD slots, as they’re usually packing less built-in storage. For similar reasons, low-end Xiaomi devices might also continue to include removable batteries, Barra said.