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LG G5 - Adoptable Storage - Sprint Product Ambassadors

Sprint Product Ambassador

Hey again, everyone!

OK, so you've recently purchased the LG G5 and have picked out (or plan to pick out) a MicroSD Card to expand the memory of your device.  Maybe you intend to use the MicroSD Card to supplement the G5's memory of 32GB and add on an additional 64GB to bring your total on-board memory to 96GB, or perhaps you're just looking for a space to store your music, pictures, and videos.  Whatever the case is, there is one thing you need to think about if you?re intending to merge the MicroSD Card storage with your already-existing storage on your LG G5: Does it support Adoptable Storage?


Adoptable Storage

Adoptable storage is the ability to utilize a MicroSD Card as an internal memory partition so that application data and other information can be stored on it natively.  Think of it kind of like upgrading your hard drive in your computer -- you can't just stick a USB drive in to add in extra workable space (You can to an extent, but it's quite cumbersome and inconvenient), therefore you need to add in a larger hard drive. 

Android Marshmallow (Android 6.0) introduced the Adoptable storage feature that has been long awaited by many Android users over the years.  Prior to this, you could "move" apps to the SD Card using manual methods or through available apps, yet the full data for the app never really transferred. There was still a disconnect between native memory and expanded memory.  Android 6.0 sought to change this by allowing users to insert a MicroSD Card into their Android smartphone and adopt the external memory into internal memory.  This would allow you to take your 32GB device and expand it to something like 160 GB if using a 128 GB SD Card.  That's a lot of room for applications, data, documents, music, pictures, etc.  

This process seems quite useful, right?  Well, it is, but it is also has the potential to create issues for users who opt to utilize adoptable storage.  Why? Because the adopted storage is then adopted forever and cannot be used in any other media device.  Once the card is adopted into internal memory, it is then encrypted, which would require a reformat of the card when ejected (GASP! ). So, this means that you couldn't simply take the 128GB SD Card you have and move it over to your tablet, PC, or other device without loss of data occurring.  Much like a new pet, once the SD card is adopted, it is in its forever home in your device.  It cannot be passed around to devices (families) without harmful impacts to the data (or emotions, if we?re talking about an animal). 

OEMs and Adoptable Storage

The inconvenience of not being able to utilize a MicroSD Card in different devices is a primary reason many OEMs including LG and Samsung have decided to not support adoptable storage.  The LG G5 falls into this category.

Per Samsung: 

"Samsung decided not to use the Android Marshmallow 'adoptable storage' model. We believe that our users want a microSD card to transfer files between their phone and other devices (laptop, tablet, etc), especially the photos and videos they shoot with the camera.

With adoptable storage, first of all the card may be erased the first time it is inserted into the device. This behavior may be unexpected by many users and we don't want our users to lose their files. Second, once Marshmallow starts using a card for adoptable storage, it cannot be read by other devices, so it loses this ability to be used for file transfer. Adoptable Storage is also primarily targeted towards emerging markets where devices with only 4-8GB of onboard storage are common. We think that our model of using microSD for mass storage is more in-line with our owner's desires and expectations for how microSD should behave." (SOURCE).

LG does not have a public statement about it, but the same user experience issue applies.  LG wants to make using your phone an easy and seamless experience.  It does not want users to become frustrated or have issues when utilizing its device(s). So, the decision to forgo adoptable storage is based on the overall user experience, with the keeping a positive experience in mind. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Adoptable Storage

There are advantages to adoptable storage, which is why many people want to utilize the feature. First, it expands your available storage space on your device beyond what was included in the box/device. Second, it provides an aspect of customizability to the device that other manufactures or platforms do not have. Finally, it allows you to use your phone the way you want to use it by allowing the install of 100s of applications, the fluid management of documents and other files on a device, and the significant space for photos and videos.

There are disadvantages, however.  We have already discussed the encryption and the need to format the card if it's being ejected, which renders SD Card sharing useless (unless data is deleted). The other disadvantage is the card requirement in terms of speed.  All cards have a class, which represents the read/write speed of the card.  This is the speed at which the data can be accessed and saved on the card, and adoptable storage requires high speed.  A user would need an SD Card that is at least a Class 8, but with UHS-1, 2, or 3 being highly recommended.  Luckily it is easy and affordable to purchase a higher class card these days, however. 

Overview (TL;DR)

Adoptable storage is a new feature (to native Android) that allows users to effectively take at least a Class 8 (UHS 1 - 3 recommended) MicroSD Card and merge it (adopt it) into internal storage to increase the amount of on-board storage a device has. It allows users to expand the available storage space on a device for various reasons. 

However, it is not supported on the LG G5 for customer experience concerns.  Once a MicroSD Card has been adopted into internal storage, it is essentially there forever.  Removing the MicroSD Card results in the card needing to be formatted, which removes all user data. 

It can be a highly beneficial feature, but considering the drawbacks of having non-portable storage, it is understandable that LG, and even Samsung, have not embraced adoptable storage at this time.  The manufacturers want users to be satisfied with their devices, not frustrated, nor do they want users to end up losing countless amounts of data. 

Adoptable storage is convenient for some users, but for the majority of users, it is not.  Therefore, you should not use adoptable storage, or the lack thereof, as a deciding factor in your device purchase decision. 

As always, thank you for reading.  What are your thoughts on adoptable storage? 


Until next time!

~ Troy

- The Product Ambassadors are Sprint employees from many different parts of the company that love technology. They volunteer to test out all sorts of Sprint devices and offer opinions freely to the Community. Each Product Ambassador shares their own opinions of these devices, therefore the information in this post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprint. The PA's do not represent the company in an official way, and should not be expected to respond to Community members in an official capacity. #sprintemployee