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Why is Android so behind in storage capacity?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by ssstraub, Dec 15, 2009.

  1. ssstraub

    ssstraub Newbie
    Thread Starter

    New poster here. I looked around and could only find threads that mentioned this issue briefly on what I consider a show-stopping issue when comparing Android to other high-end smart phones. What I'm interested in is "total storage" available. If I understand correctly, the total storage available to any Android device so far is 16 GB (largest microSD that I can find for sale), often with a paltry 512 MB built-in, with less than that available to users. 256 MB on the Droid, for example.

    To me, this looks really outdated in comparison to other high-end smart phones such as the iPhone and N900. The iPhone has a 32 GB version (the old 16 GB version has been available for a year and half now!), and will almost surely have a 64 GB version available in summer 2010. The N900 has 32 GB built-in as well PLUS a microSD slot for a max of something over 50 GB (I've heard 80 GB is possible, though I don't understand how).

    I'm very interested in Android (especially the Nexus One), but are there any Android phones yet that are capable of replacing a PMP or are they all limited to around 16 GB of total storage? :( 16 GB is absolutely not going to replace a PMP to me, and that is the only remaining reason I have left for passing on getting an Android device.

    I also take issue with those that say "the apps are only 1-3 MB, so you can fit plenty in the 256 MB." IMO that's extremely short-sighted, especially when there have been other platforms for years now showing the popularity of heavy 3D graphics in their apps and the necessary storage needed to do that. Why should Android users settle for arbitrarily handicapping developers in this way? If the apps are good now, imagine how good they'd be if they weren't so constrained by storage space. And yeah, I know you can offload some of the app data to the card, but that just compounds the previous problem of the already meager space for media files!

    Why don't any of the Android hardware makers feel the need to make something competitive with Apple/Nokia in the storage area?

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  2. ssstraub

    ssstraub Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Update: I tracked down a 32 GB microSD for a whopping $150. Clearly these things aren't commonplace, as I couldn't even find one that size on Amazon, Newegg, etc.

    Doesn't anyone use their Android to replace a dedicated PMP like iPhone users do?
  3. It keeps prices down. If you want more storage, buy a microSD.
  4. AndroidSPCS

    AndroidSPCS Android Expert

    Android could use the microSD card for running apps, but out of the box Google doesn't permit it due to security concerns. If you root a phone you can run apps off the microSD card

    Perhaps in the future as storage costs go down we'll see bigger internal memory and external microSD memory.

    Also, keep in mind Google's business model is cloud based, so the less you have on your local device, the better for Google.
  5. ssstraub

    ssstraub Newbie
    Thread Starter

    The thing is, that doesn't seem to be the case... A Droid w/ 16 GB microSD costs about $725 without contract. A Nokia N900 w/ 32 GB internal and an empty microSD slot costs about $775.

    The bigger point is that 16 GB cards are the max that are widely available, so "buying a new card" doesn't solve the issue. Even if you track down a hugely expensive 32 GB card, you are now paying more than buying a N900 and you don't get the internal storage advantage it has either.
  6. ssstraub

    ssstraub Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Right, but the competition has already been providing this storage space for a long time now at the same price points. Why can't the Android manufacturers do the same? :thinking:

    I see how the cloud model works for a lot of what Google's doing (and I like that approach), except for playing my music collection. So far they don't offer any way for me to play my own music collection from the cloud. If they did, the situation would be much improved, but still not as good as the competition in this area.
  7. So you actually think that including 32GB would not increase the price of android phones?

    16GB should be enough. If it isn't enough for your music collection, just buy a Spotify subscription instead :D
  8. ssstraub

    ssstraub Newbie
    Thread Starter

    The competition is already providing that 32 GB at the same point-of-sale prices as the Droid, so no, I don't think it would increase the price the CONSUMER pays. It seems you are either implying Nokia and Apple don't make profits on their hardware or the Droid is wildly overpriced that they can't support an extra $20 in hardware cost per device, if it's even that much.

    Spotify is not available in the US.

    16 GB should be enough? :thinking: What a strange thing to say!
  9. mjschmidt

    mjschmidt Android Expert

    It seems like most of the people responding are missing the giant elephant in the room that the OP has pointed out twice.

    Other phone manufacturers include 32 GB of _internal_ memory for practically the same price as the Android phones. There is a disparity that either indicates we are being charged _too_ much for Android phones, or the competitors are charging _too little_ (or are taking a loss) on their phones.

    If it weren't for the fact that I hate Apple, it would be nice to have a phone with a large internal memory.
  10. nateo200

    nateo200 Android Enthusiast

    I see your from Milwaukee OP! I'm from there too. Anyways I have to say I'm getting a bt nervous that I only have 150mbs left with hardly what I would call a "large collection of apps" on iphone I could have pretty much as many apps as I wanted.
  11. That's completely absurd. I'm not going to waste my time explaining why that makes no sense.

    Here's the thing: PHONES HAVE MANY COMPONENTS. The internal memory is just one aspect. Each company designs and manufactures their phones completely different. And on top of that they decide how much a phone should cost differently. It is wrong to expect the price of a phone to be directly proportional to how much memory it has.

    If phones had only one component, the memory, this topic might be worthwhile. But they don't. So this topic is pointless. I don't even know where you got the idea that all non android phones have lots of internal memory for the same price. It's just not true.
  12. stinky

    stinky Android Enthusiast

    If you dont like something on an Android, dont get it.

    Go get an iPhone.
  13. ari-free

    ari-free Android Expert

    LOL with that attitude, don't complain when android is left behind along with WinMo
  14. stinky

    stinky Android Enthusiast

    Android is so far beyond WinMo its not even funny.

    Its just a simple solution to this guys problem. He already has a gripe about a particular feature he feels is SUPER important, so my advice is simply dont buy one, save us from the trouble of having to hear yet another rant/complaint about what Android "should" have. The iPod has what he "needs" so just get one and be done with it. Just dont start complaining when you cant do what us Android products can.

    I much prefer expandable memory over built in any day. My Flip video camera only records 30 minutes, and has no expandable memory. I wouldnt mind paying good money for expandable memory for it because it is an excellent product otherwise.

    One day we will have terabyte microSD for dirt cheap, and then your complaints wont mean squat.
  15. stinky

    stinky Android Enthusiast

    They dont feel the need because they sell plenty without it. Simple business.
  16. ari-free

    ari-free Android Expert

    It won't be for long with that attitude. (Microsoft thought they were comfortable after WinMo wiped out PalmOS)
    I think we should bother the phone makers so that they give us what we want instead of making rationalizations and excuses for missing features.
  17. El Blacksheep

    El Blacksheep Android Enthusiast

    Ehm, you're missing the point. Lets compare your 32GB iPhone vs my 16GB Droid w/ 256 MB internal memory:

    1) I've installed just about every single app I'll ever want / need / use to internal memory and I've only used about half of it. It is definitely enough for a vast majority of the user base (not sure I've seen one person actually encounter a "my internal storage is full!" issue)

    2) 16 GB holds my entire music collection, some photos and video clips, and a few odds and ends with 3 GB free space remaining. Yet with free streaming content from services like Pandora, I almost NEVER listen to the music on my SD card, and I'll likely delete it to free up more space for stuff like recording long, high-res video.

    3) Your 32 GB internal storage will eventually fill up, and your only option is to delete to make more room. If I fill up a 16 gb microSD card, I can just swap another one in. Boom, I just doubled my storage. Since I can swap microSD cards in and out of my Droid as I please, I technically have unlimited storage capacity. You're still stuck with that unremovable 32GB. (and an unremovable battery too, but that's another issue for another topic)

    4) Prices on 16 gb microSDs are dropping, and once we see more advanced technology (like the rumored microSDXC capable of breaching the 32GB limit of microSDHC) that's when 32 gb microSDs will not only become more available, but also more affordable as well.

    5) Need to transfer lots of data quickly from a PC to your device, but you don't have your cable with you? I can take my microSD card out and put it into a card reader slot. Your iPhone... needs a cable.
  18. ari-free

    ari-free Android Expert

    yeah you're making all these compromises...
    Hopefully android will support app2sd and the new sdxc soon so we can all have 2 TB on our phones and flac will rule the world :)
  19. ssstraub

    ssstraub Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Thank you!

    Guys, I'm not here to bash on Android. I want it to succeed and I'm a self-admitted Google fanboy. If it had more memory, I'd have one already, and that's why I'm so passionate about this topic. I know other people that feel the same way, so multiply that by the general public and I'm sure there's a good number of us out there. All you have to do is look at the marketplace and you'll see plenty of people are buying PMPs with 64 GB or even 160 GB of space. Those two iPod models are continually in the Amazon top 10 mp3 players. 16 GB is enough?! Who wants to carry around two devices anymore in 2010?
  20. ssstraub

    ssstraub Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Again, I'm not here to bash Android. I recognize the areas it's superior to other platforms and just want this last showstopping (for me) thing worked out so it can be exactly what I'm looking for and I can join you guys in some Android goodness. :p With that said...

    How can you possibly know what apps will come out in the future? If I get an Android phone, I'll probably have it for at least a year, maybe 2.

    The larger point is that the developers are forced to make small apps because of this issue, and so your apps aren't as nice as they could be without this limitation. Games are especially hampered by this.

    ...Which you wouldn't have to do if you had more space.

    That's fine for you and surely it will be fine for some others, but I believe you're in the minority. I had 16 GB already just in music about 8 years ago, and I know people with plenty more. Look at all the people that complained that you can't get a Zune HD larger than 32 GB. The demand for large capacities is clearly there. Apple keeps around a 160 GB iPod classic just because of this demand, and we all know Apple likes to drop older tech like a rock, even if there's still some demand for it.

    I love the streaming internet radio apps too, but they are absolutely killer on battery life. I can listen to local media for 30 hours, but with streaming I'd be lucky to get 3 hours. That situation isn't going to improve any time soon, and I'm certainly not going to carry around 10 batteries to make up the difference.

    I'm not debating internal vs external. I'm totally fine with swappable cards. Sadly they don't make microSD economically available in sizes larger than 16 GB so it's a moot point. Nokia has the right idea with 32 GB built-in plus and microSD expansion slot.

    I don't want to break up my music onto multiple SD cards. That would make everything a pain. All my smart playlists would be useless as they pull in songs based on rating, year, date added, or when I listened to them last. Then you have issues like what card is this certain picture I'm looking for on, etc. Ugh.

    I know this, but I'm looking to buy an Android phone now, and I'm so frustrated I have to wait around for microSD to catch up, even though Apple/Nokia/etc has figured out ways to provide this storage already for years now.

    This is a nice option, but I'd gladly give that up for much more total storage space. There are also a bunch of iPhone apps that will transfer files over WiFi so you don't always need a cable though that's definitely the easiest way.
  21. Ainvar

    Ainvar Newbie

    I see both sides of the argument and I agree on both.

    But I am on the side of the OP when it comes to Android OS and its limited internal memory. I do enjoy the use of SD cards but that is great for holding data. I want to be able to enjoy 6 month from now since the release of 2.0 with the droid and dedicated video chip, there will be some hopefully nice 3d games. Yes I know of the threads talking about just the executable running from the internal memory and the payload of the game stored on the SD card. But that might not be possible with the slowness of a class 2 SD card. I think there should be atlease 4 gigs of internal memory for the user to use on the phone itself as well access to an SD card for data storage.

    I am not going to split hairs with some of the posters here saying if you dont like the way it looks go get an iphone or something else. The OP has pointed to the obvious but the responses I see to the OP are like smart people with their heads in the sands trying to drink more fanboy koolaide.

    Google and its partners need to wake up and deal with this now and not when it is a huge thorn in the majority of its users side. Apps will get bigger and storage space is not growing. So does that mean we need to buy a phone every 6-12 months when most people sign a 2yr contract? Technology may be outdated in less than 6 months but the way the cell phone carrier is doing contracts we need a phone to be able to last 2 years and we get our money out of it. I dont want to have to pay for a phone full price due to this weakness in the Android OS and the hardware it is running on.
  22. Ainvar

    Ainvar Newbie

    You make great points so I am not about to recreate the wheel but say I agree 150% with you. I on the droid and love it. I am always so paranoid about my internal memory when it came to the blackberry due to this and I am not doing the same here cause I am under the 200meg mark. Yes I know I some room still before really having to worry yet.....
  23. ssstraub

    ssstraub Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I'm going to find it hard to resist the Nexus One or whatever it's called next month, despite my complaining here, but I at least want to make it known to the manufacturers that the demand is out there for a phone with some built-in storage AND an external slot, even if it does cost a bit more.

    I'd smile as I handed over extra money for that.
  24. akdms

    akdms Newbie

    As long as apps cannot be installed on external memory (without rooting) I would like to see at least a few gigs of internal memory available in Android devices. Even though the majority of apps out there are small and the few hundred megs is sufficient right now, people are signing two-year contracts with their carriers. At the rate that cell phones and the app market is developing, a few hundred megs may not be enough. Especially given that a huge focus on new phones now is not the phone itself but the quality and quantity of apps available. Though I suppose the fix would be easy enough if that ever became a problem--Google could just update Android to allow apps to be installed on external memory.

    I'm not sure why Motorola didn't include more memory, but if you look at other Android phones (like the Moment or Hero) it's more obvious. They're $300 less than the Nokia N900.

    As for the iPhone--it's ecomics. They can sell their phones for less and make up on volume. They can distribute their fixed costs over 30 million handsets, so it's the cost per phone is less. They have more bargining power with suppliers because of the quantity of phones (and iPods, if they use the same components) they sell, futher reducing their cost per phone. And they are willing to take a bit of a hit because they can make up for it through in-store accessory sales, plus the fact that it's a gateway to using other Apple products.
  25. Cirga

    Cirga Newbie

    Perhaps you just need a better understanding of how Android "manages" its memory. Then you would understand that its not apples to apples. No pun intended.

    The fact is Android does not "need" more than that for its internal memory. Period.

    You can buy as many SD cards you want and load as many apps as you want. I have installed over 200 apps and I am still not below 50% storage space on my internal memory. I dont even use close to half of said apps. Everything that requires large storage space goes to the SD Card.

    32GB cards will be less expensive eventually. In the meantime a 16gb card works fine. The joy of being able to swap an SD card anytime you like. That is something the Iphone cannot even do. That being said.. the Iphone isnt even a comparison.
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