In these tough economic times, many of use are stretching our budgets, and in some cases that means making your current smartphone last another year or so.
While this can be frustrating for those who like to have the latest and greatest, it’s easier to take if you improve the device you have already in some way.
Unlike a desktop PC, you can’t buy a better monitor for your phone, or swap out the processor. But there’s one thing you can do that’s amazingly easy, relatively cheap, and can really enhance your device: get a new memory card.
Like a New Hard Drive
With only a couple of exceptions, most smartphones have a memory card slot, and you can swap out cards as easy as swapping CDs.
A memory card basically acts like your phone’s hard drive. You use it to store files, especially music and video, but also e-books, pictures, voice notes, you name it. The more capacity your memory card has, the more you can store.
Many smartphones come with the slot but no card. Or if they come with a card, it’s a small one, like 256 MB. These days, that’s a pittance. You can upgrade to gigabytes and gigabytes of storage.
Well, that’s true unless you’re one of the exceptions. A few well-known models have only built-in memory not a memory card slot. At the top of this list is all versions of the Apple iPhone, as well as the Palm Pre and most versions of the HTC Touch Diamond.
What this means is that all Android, BlackBerry, Palm OS, Symbian smartphones, and the vast majority of Windows Mobile devices let you swap out memory cards.
In the last few years, the microSDHC format became the standard, so that’s what’s in just about all these models.
A Tiny Giant
I recently got a SanDisk 16 GB microSD card, which can store a really amazing amount of stuff considering its size: more than 3,000 songs, 8,000 images from a 5 MPx cameraphone, or up to 16 hours of video.
This card sells for around $50, more or less, depending on where you shop. That’s a great price for this significant an upgrade.
I don’t recommend you buy a bunch of lower capacity cards. microSD cards are tiny — about the size of my pinky nail — and they are easy to lose. You really don’t want to try carrying several of them around with you. Just get one of the largest capacity you can afford and put it semi-permanently in your phone.
Swapping Your Files
When you get your new memory card, many of you are going to want to start by copying everything on your current card to the new one. The easiest way — often the only way — to do that is to get a memory card reader. You’ll use this to copy your files to a PC, then copy them onto your new card.
My current favorite is the SanDisk MobileMate Micro Reader because it’s small, very portable, and inexpensive.
These features are important because you may want to carry the reader around with you — I put my on my keychain. That means I’m always ready to transfer data onto my memory card. For example, I like to be able to get copies of pictures from my friends, or copies of MP3s I enjoy. I also use my card to transfer files for work, even if I don’t access them on my phone.
If you don’t wan to carry your reader around, you’re still might need one every time you want to transfer files from your PC to your phone.
A good memory card and reader can enhance your smartphone for a relatively low price, which is welcome no matter what the economic conditions are.