Nikhil is a freelance tech writer and smartphone enthusiast. He is following the Indian smartphone industry for around four years now.
Our smartphones work on storage. The pictures you click, the apps you keep, and documents you save are stored in a memory in your smartphone. The processor that powers your device needs to fetch this data every time you need to access them. Without any storage, your smartphone will just be a piece of an empty box.
Do you know that not all smartphones have the same storage technology? Depending on the smartphone’s price and features, companies put different storage technologies in their different models.
Certain storage technologies are faster and more power-efficient than others.
In this article, I’m going to talk about some of these technologies that will educate you on this matter and help you decide which storage types you should consider when buying a new smartphone. So, without further ado, let's get started:
Broad Classification of Storage Types in Smartphones
Broadly speaking, we can classify these storage types in two broad categories:
- Internal Storage
- External Storage or SD Cards
1. Internal Storage
Internal storage is your smartphone’s internal memory, where all the apps and their data are stored. In general terms, it is also known as phone memory. The Operating System (OS) on which your smartphone runs is also stored in the internal memory.
OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) keeps the storage of OS and pre-loaded apps reserved in the internal storage. Generally, they take around 3 to 4 GB of space. So, if your smartphone has 32 GB internal storage, for example, you will roughly get around 26 or 27 GB memory free for use.
The storage technology used in a smartphone may vary depending on the price at which it is offered. Most of the entry-level smartphones today come with eMMC (embedded MultiMediaCard) flash memory. They have used in most consumer electronics, such as eReaders, tablets, and GPS systems. Then comes the faster and better storage option in the form of UFS storage.
As you can guess these features in most mid-range and premium segment smartphones. Or else we can say if you chose to buy a smartphone having UFS storage standard, you might have to shell out more bucks.
Comparison of eMMC and UFS Storage
|Category||Sequential Read (MB/s)||Sequential Write (MB/s)||Random Read (IOPS)||Random Write (IOPS)|
1.1 Types of RAM Storage Standards
Apart from the storage mentioned above technologies and standards, there are a couple of RAM storage technology types you should know about. Let’s have a quick look at them below:
As you may know, RAM (Random Access Memory) is the memory that stores only the processing data of your smartphone. It is much faster than any other storage memory. And that is the reason it is expensive.
Now DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) is the type of RAM that stores data in every bit of data on a distinct capacitor. However, it is a bit slower than the typical RAM. And that is why it is comparatively cheaper compared to the other RAMs. In this type of memory, the data is usually refreshed after some time.
DRAM has given rise to a new kind of RAM technology, mostly used in smartphones. It is called LPDDR (low-power double data rate synchronous dynamic random access memory).
Most smartphones have this memory because it consumes less power and has a better overall performance.
Now, it also comes in various versions or standards. The higher the version, the better and costlier it will be. Some of the recent versions include LPDDR2, LPDDR3, LPDD4x, and LPDDR5.
In 2020, some of the smartphones that come with LPDDR5 are Samsung Galaxy S20+, Galaxy S20 Ultra, Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, and Redmi K30 Pro.
Today, LPDDR5 technology has also been used in autonomous cars, AR systems, cloud computing, and many futuristic systems and technologies.
2. External or Removable Storage (microSD Card)
MicroSD card is the external storage memory where you can place your important files and data. By default, all your apps on your smartphone will install only in your phone’s internal memory. However, if you want, you can save all the pictures, videos, documents, or any other files in the external storage.
When it comes to speed and performance, SD cards are way slower to read and write data than the internal storage memories. You must note that SD cards also come in a variety of options or versions. They are categorized in Class number. Lower the class number; slower will be the performance.
I prefer using a smartphone with a dedicated microSD card. That is because it allows me to save all my files in that while I keep the internal storage free for installing important apps.
If you want your smartphone to run faster for at least a few years and have an uncluttered experience, I recommend using a microSD in your smartphone.
However, today, most smartphones are coming with no microSD slot or offering a hybrid solution, i.e. you can either put two SIM cards or a SIM and an SD card. They're probably doing this to cut down the extra cost in manufacturing the device.
This article was written for the sole purpose of educating you about the various storage technologies used in smartphones. Through this article, I aimed for spreading my knowledge and understanding about the storage technologies so that it can help in some way to make an informed decision of buying a new smartphone.
One thing is sure. The better the technology the expensive it will be. So, if you want to get hold of the latest technology and get the blazing fast storage speed, you need to spend more on buying a good smartphone.
If you think that this article gave you a little glimpse that might have helped you discover new information about smartphones, then do let me know in the comments section. I'd be happy to see your reactions and honest feedback.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Nikhil Sharma
Nikhil Sharma (author) from India on August 27, 2020:
Liza, thank you so much for appreciating my work. I'm glad to know my readers are able to grasp the information I'm writing about in my hubs.
And also thank you for sharing your personal experience and opinion on this.
This article was primarily written assuming that most readers are using Android smartphones. But yes, when it comes to the iPhone, they're offering the cloud storage option, which is really great. Although Android users can also save and upload important files via Google Drive.
For the storage of large files, I'd strongly suggest buying an SSD or hard drive. However, one of my uncles' hard drive was stolen when he visited a hospital for my grandmother's cancer treatment. He had lost all his old and new family photos, videos, and also all the important documents. In that context, cloud storage is safe and flexible.
I really appreciate dropping such an insightful comment, Liza. Stay connected.
Liza from USA on August 26, 2020:
Nikhil, this is a great article for people to learn more about their smartphone storage. Years ago, I used to have a phone with external or removable storage.
I have changed smartphones several times, especially when the new iPhone comes out. Like Liz, I agree when it comes to taking control of our own storage system. I'm still using an external hard drive to store photos and videos.
However, I can't deny how easy to access my files by using cloud storage. In this case, I'm using an iCloud and it's one of the smartest ways to store all files. All I need is an internet connection to access the files anywhere. Thank you for sharing!
Nikhil Sharma (author) from India on August 21, 2020:
Thanks for leaving such a detailed comment, Liz. I'm glad to know that you found this piece informative. I'm sure you must have got new and useful information for you.
You're right! Even I'm also using microSD on my current smartphone for a very long time. Not only it allows me to save lots of pictures and videos, but it kind of loosens the burden on the phone's internal storage.
Even if you're got like 64 or 128 GB internal storage memory, I'd recommend to use dedicated microSD card for storing your data like pictures and videos. This way you'll make your smartphone work faster and efficiently.
And yes the cloud storage can be a good option but it also has its own limitations. You've really added lot of value in this article by sharing your comment, Liz. Thanks again for reading it.
Nikhil Sharma (author) from India on August 21, 2020:
Hi Ms. Sowrabha,
Thank you so much for reading all my articles and sharing your lovely comments. I truly enjoy reading your articles as well as the comments you leave on mine. I'm feeling great to know that you've found this article educational.
Yes, I believe that even if you cannot know everything about the technology you're using, one should have at least a basic idea about how things work. Not only does it make you more educated but will also help you when you go for purchasing a device. Thank you so much once again for your honest feedback.
Swati on August 19, 2020:
Although I don't have much knowledge about technology and smartphones storage but really I I liked your article as it provides a great indepth knowledge for people like us who lack in this field. Thank you for sharing this.
Liz Westwood from UK on August 18, 2020:
This contains very useful information. I bought a microSD card when my storage was getting full, mainly with photos and videos. Now I move them all over. What are your views on cloud storage? Someone recommended it to me, but I feel more in control with my own storage system.
sowspeaks from Bengaluru on August 18, 2020:
Hi Nikhil, this has been an extremely educational article for lots of us who use the phone but have no idea about the technology.. this article will help us novice’s take better informed decisions.Thank you for one more useful hub.