Saturday, November 27, 2010

I added a MicroSD Card to my Windows Phone Samsung Focus and it worked

As many of you Samsung Focus owners already know we got the great screen but the lame 8GB of memory.  Well no problem since there is a MicroSD card slot, right?  Ah...hum...well not exactly.   If you opened up your iPad (or other web reading device) and started to read Engadget you probably were not too happy when you read about the 'Windows Phone 7 microSD mess' story.  Yah me too.  WTF?

Basically the flash memory card has to be of a particular tolerance and quality or the phone gets into a bad state.  I guess it makes sense given that the Windows Phone OS will combine the 2 flash memory items into a one single giant drive with data spread across the 2.  Of course if any part of the memory sucks, this could confuse the OS and mess everything up resulting in the phone rebooting and losing data.  I think the really interesting tidbit here is how bad and unreliable flash memory production is because a lot of flash memory cards simply won't work including many from big name manufacturers like Sandisk and Lexar.

So begins this new adventure in tech....

First Things First
So I Binged it and read as much as I could about the problem and the solution.  One of the best sites I found was WM Power User and they pointed me to XDA Developers which is a site that is hosting a grand list of flash cards, their manufacturers and the class or speed of the cards that appear to be working and the one's that aren't.

The Purchase
Well I was a little nervous since you can't just buy flash memory, open up the Fort Knox-level impenetrable plastic sheathing that encapsulates the card and then return it if it doesn't work.  In other words there was a real possibility that I would have to eat it if the card didn't work.  Here's my very scientific and painstakingly researched decision on what to buy:

  1. There was no way in hell I was going to buy 8GBs since that's what the phone should have come with in the first place.  I needed more memory than that to feel like I got the better deal and that I wasn't a schmuck.
  2. Wow 32 GBs costs something like $100 and that's real money.  I'm not going to risk it.
So I settled on 16 GBs.   When I first read the list, all of the San Disks were failing so I decided to go with Kingston.  Of course now that I look at the list all of the SanDisk 16GBs are working so go figure.  Anyway, I searched at Best Buy.  Nothing.  I searched at Costco.  Nothing.  I even searched at Office Depot and Verizon and nothing.  So I went to a local store called Fry's Electronics and nothing.   Well they actually had something but it wasn't the Kingston brand that I was looking for and I really didn't want to eat the $50 bucks if I didn't have to.  Of course at this point I'm extremely frustrated that no one sells Kingston branded memory.  Fry's did but they were out of the 16GB.  They had other brands of 16 GB MicroSD cards but not Kingston.  Oh my what to do?  Buy the Kingston 8GB and feel like a schmuck or roll the dice with the no name 16 GB memory and possibly eat $50.  

Being the highly decorated in the trenches tech geek that I am I decided to get a little extra help.  Actually I simply remembered that I could revisit the list of working memory cards since my Windows Phone actually has a web browser.  Wow what a cool invention.  After Binging it and reading through the list I discovered that PNY 16 GB cards supposedly work.  Fry's had a Polaroid branded PNY card so I took the plunge and plunked down my hard earned $43.69.  By the way it's cheaper at Amazon so I would highly recommend clicking on this link to purchase the flash card.

The Test
I came speeding home and before I proceeded to give this thing a try I first had to give the boss the heads up that I may have just thrown away $50 bucks on memory that might not work.  My wife looked disgusted.   I smiled and continued to get the diamond cutting tools so I could open the vacuum sealed plastic casing.  After a few minutes, I finally opened the package, took out the memory, opened my phone, dropped the flash card in and then did the 3 finger salute to reformat my phone - VOLUME DOWN, CAMERA BUTTON, POWER KEY.  Nothing.  I then turned on the phone and tried again.   This time I got the message that asked if I wanted to reformat my phone.  I nervously clicked OK.  In a matter of minutes it was done and rebooted.  It came up fine.  I checked settings and the phone said I had 22 GB.  I'm not sure why it's not 24 GBs but close enough for government work.  I then synced the phone with tons of videos, pictures and music to stress the memory and to see if I could get it to fail.  After this was done I shut the phone down and turned it back on.  This is the stage when it supposedly went south for others.  I also decided to take out my battery and to reboot the phone again just in case.  So far it's been running for about 5 hours and everything appears to be working well.  I'll let you know if anything comes up in the next few days.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  It's far too cold to be sleeping in the dog house.

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