There are many reasons why the Samsung Focus is currently the “best” Windows Phone model in my opinion, but one of the big ones is that it supports SD-based memory expansion. Sell, perhaps “supports” is a strong word. It has SD-based memory expansion. But as we discussed to death before the NoDo delays issue consumed everything else in its wake, Microsoft wasn’t interested in supporting this feature at all, and it left doing so to the wireless carriers that originally demanded it.
A bit of background: A year ago, when I first contacted and then met with the Windows Phone team about their new baby, one of the things they made very clear to me (and, as with a few other things, this was completely miscommunicated, of course) was that Windows Phone would NOT support memory expansion. So imagine my surprise when the Windows Phone launch came around and there were a handful of phones that actually did have this capability.
The thing is, Microsoft’s stance on expansion hadn’t really changed: Yes, it bowed to wireless carrier demands (they DO love the up-sell, remember) and allowed hardware makers to build this capability into devices. But Microsoft refused to support it at all, because it’s own tests demonstrated that there was absolutely no way to really determine whether any particular SD card would actually work reliably in this capacity. That is, you could buy an SD card, stick it in the phone, reset it (a requirement), and then see if it worked. If it did, great. If not, the card would likely be hosed, and you were free to remove it (and reset) and possibly retry with a new card (again, resetting it).
I was lucky: The first SD card I purchased worked just fine and continues to work to this day. So my phone has 24 GB of storage—8 built-in plus 16 from the card—and I’m good to go. Others, of course, have been unlucky, and I’ve received far more email from people with failed SD expansion stories than the reverse.
Months have gone by since I blogged about these issues, and I still get email pretty regularly about this topic. The simple truth is that Microsoft will never support this functionality officially (simply stating this publicly should make the reverse happen, of course; cross your fingers). So they’ve left the ball in the carriers’ court, so to speak. If its going to be supported at all, it needs to come from AT&T and company.
Amazingly, that support could be here: According to Engadget, AT&T is now selling “certified” micro-SD cards for the Samsung Focus. Now, let’s be clear here: It’s likely that the failure rate for these cards will be as high as ever. But the point is, AT&T is supporting them. So if you buy one and it doesn’t work, take it back and replace it, and keep trying until it does.
Here’s how to test, I think: You need to fill up the phone with enough content so that you exceed the capacity of the built-in storage. So throw your whole music collection on there, or a bunch of videos, whatever. Use the phone for a few days and make sure it’s working properly.
The thing is, you will need to reset the device to get it to see the extra storage, so be sure to backup before doing this, download all your phone photos, and so on. Don’t be squeamish about this; it’s an all or nothing proposition. And be prepared to reset it again if doesn’t work.
And let me know if you actually do this. I’m actually somewhat tempted myself even though my phone is fine.