29
May
Is HTC EVO 4G About To Be Shipped With A Massive Defect In The Included 8GB MicroSD Card?
Last Updated: June 1st, 2010

Google and Sprint might have a big problem on their hands, as the EVO 4G, coming out in less than a week on June 4th, seems to have a serious defect in the included internal storage department.

Update 6/1/2010: I have terrible news. While on vacation in France (and therefore unable to swap out the SD card for another), I have today spent a whole day in Monaco and Monte Carlo which ended up being my favorite little places in all of France and its surroundings.

After taking a myriad of breathtaking and irreplaceable pictures and videos and coming home, I found none of them were present on the card. Instead, a LOST.DIR with about 2GB of data. The defect described here, which until now only needed a reboot to get fixed, has now progressed into something that I don't think I'll be able to recover from.

Needless to say, this is highly upsetting - these pictures are not replaceable. If anyone has any tips on restoring data from a corrupted SD card, please let me know.

Update 6/1/2010: According to a respectable member of Android Forums, Bek, who got in touch with Sprint Advanced Tech Support, the batch of EVO 4Gs distributed at Google I/O is the same as production units that are about to be shipped. Here's the link to the post where he mentions that.

If true, this means thousands of consumers are about to be very, very unhappy, and if you see my last update above, will likely eventually lose their data.

The Defect

I've been using the EVO since Google handed it out at Google I/O last week, and it's been nothing short of amazing (unlike what MG Siegler, aka Apple fanboy, seems to think), except for a one little thing. Actually, a big thing - the 8GB microSD card that the device ships with seemingly randomly stops working and appears corrupt/empty/messed up - I'm not even sure how to describe it best.

A reboot fixes the problem temporarily, until it happens again. It started occurring on day 2 and has reoccurred almost every day as I've been heavily testing and using the phone as a camera, camcorder, browser, and other features.

Here are some apps that rely on the SD card and start failing unpredictably:

  • The camera app starts complaining that it can't save pictures due to bad permissions, specifically: "Unable to save file to SD card due to insufficient file permissions".
  • TuneWiki, a music app, goes crazy and almost freezes the phone while trying to play the playlist that is loaded into its memory but failing at accessing the card.
  • The gallery app sees no pictures.
  • The ASTRO app shows a mix of empty and unavailable dirs in a state I'd never seen before.

It could be just me with a defective SD card, right? I was thinking that too but then I remembered seeing a few tweets describing similar problems by @NeilLund right after I/O and asked him for more details. Apparently, he has been experiencing the same problem.

Yesterday, I started a thread at AndroidForums that has so far generated over 40 replies with users reporting seeing the same issue.

The final straw came today in MG Siegler's post comparing EVO 4G to the iPhone, in which the camera app got major points taken away for not working consistently and showing the same "Unable to save file to SD card due to insufficient file permissions" message I've seen before.

While no actual corruption has occurred in my case yet, chances are you may lose your data, like in this case, unless the bug is fixed. Without further ado, I am posting this to bring Google's, Sprint's, and HTC's attention to the matter as well as gather some feedback from those of you who were also affected (please comment on your experience).

The Root Cause?

Opinions on the root cause are currently split. Some users think software is to blame, while others cite bad SD cards (that's a whole lot of bad cards - perhaps a defective batch?) or faulty card seating mechanism (which is, admittedly, really weird).

Here's what the SD card and the seating mechanism look like [view more unboxing pics]:

Is HTC EVO 4G About To Be Shipped With A Massive Defect In The Included 8GB MicroSD Card?

Some users tried other cards and saw the same problem reoccur, which indicates that the original cards might not actually be defective.

Attempts to reseat the SD card or even tape it so it sits closer to the phone also went on the fail list.

Or perhaps software is to blame? It is possible that a software error somehow leaves the card in a bad state after a certain series of events, which would explain why a reboot or remount fixes it without physical intervention.

Those of you looking for a new microSD card for your EVO, whether to upgrade from the slower 8GB or to replace the faulty 8GB ones, if they indeed will end up being the problem, may want to read our review and benchmarks of the 16GB Class 6 A-Data card which offers the best value for the money, in my opinion.

Whatever the root cause is, I hope Google, HTC, and Sprint will jump on this before it's too late and the EVO 4G is released, aka June 4th. And for their own sake, I also hope it's a software problem fixable via an OTA update - otherwise they are about to have a whole lot of unhappy customers on their hands.

Any EVO 4G owners with this problem? Report your experiences in the comments.

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Sir Nate

    I remember hearing the same thing but with the Htc Hd2 from some guy that did a review via youtube. He said that same problem occurred when downloaded over 300 song to his SD card. He reported that the phone would freeze and that he would have to reset the phone.

  • Andronigga

    your real smart, genius, NOT. Get a Class 6 SD card, yours is probably a defect

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Have you read the story at all? Why did you even bother commenting?

    • Simon Belmont

      "Your real smart?" "Your?"

      I think you meant "you're." Ironically, in attempting to point out stupidity in the article, you've outed yourself as ignorant and uneducated. Bravo! Bravo, indeed!

  • frank

    I get that error all the time on my hero. It seems to be loosely related to loading new apps. It has happened since day 1 with this phone. I think it is a software bug.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Never had this problem on my Hero - wonder what the underlying issue is.

    • Simon Belmont

      I have never experienced this issue with my Sprint HTC Hero. Not with Android 1.5 and not with the recent update to Android 2.1.

      Perhaps, in your case, the microSD card is to blame. Try doing a format on the microSD card using the phone itself.

  • F*OFF

    No where in the article does he state trying a different SD card? No where does he state trying to save photos to internal memory without the card!!! Not very thorough are you?!!!

    • BobbyPhoenix

      Um, yeah it says that. "Some users tried other cards and saw the same problem reoccur, which indicates that the original cards might not actually be defective." Read a little slower maybe?

    • http://n/a J

      It will not save pictures to the internal memory. It asks you to insert an SD card.

  • light

    I saw this problem very frequently on my Hero - almost always as a result of trying to take a photo. I saw the same error message you and Siegler report. In fact, I read his review before I came across this article and I instantly recognized it as a faulty card problem.

    Why did I conclude this? I had recently 'upgraded' to a PQI class 6 microSD card. No matter how much I formatted it it would continue. Once I switched back to a Sandisk 2gb card (the stock one, maybe?) I never saw the problem again. After some time, I switched back to the PQI card and it began giving errors again. What's more is that I tried another, identical PQI I had purchased at the same time as the other - and the problem persisted.

    I had written it off as PQI being a bad quality brand, or even having a bad batch (because both were purchased at the same time). However, with this new information and report from you, it could either be a large bad batch, or related to a software glitch or physical read/write mechanism (hardware problem) as you said people reported switching cards and getting the problem.

    I hope this gets resolved. Would be a terrible blow for the EVO.

  • huoyjii

    I have one of those EVO from Google I/O and have experienced the exact same problem!! I hope they have a fix soon

  • http://loghound.com John McLaughlin

    I had the same problem with the phone from IO. Another odd thing... when we got the phones they also gave us 2GB micro SD cards.... I wonder if those were because the 8GB ones were known to be defective....

    • Wadael

      they are said to contain music, offered by Sprint if I recall. I haven't tried it yet.

  • http://robbypayne.com Robby Payne

    Not sure if this is legit, but someone posted about this @ Android Forums and said the problem is under control, Sprint knows about it, and it only affects 2000 of the phones handed out @ Google IO... http://androidforums.com/htc-evo-4g/87051-issue-dismount-disappearing-defect-included-8gb-microsd-2.html#post829576

  • Daniel

    This happens on my HTC Desire as well. Considering how many different phones have this issue I'd wager a guess it's an OS bug and not a hardware problem with the SD cards.

  • ed

    I have a similar problem with my nexus one, the gallery app cant find the memory card but when that happens its always solved by restarting the app

  • Carpuncher

    This is weird. I have an Instinct and it did this same thing about a week ago. I’ve been using a 8g Sandisk Card in it since I got it a year ago with no problems. Then all of a sudden the card glitched and wiped all my photos and music. Quite a bummer. Seeing as how this happened with my Instinct it could just be an issue that…well…just happens with phones and cards sometimes. I.E. not really an EVO problem. It is interesting to hear that other have been having this problem with phones across the board. Could be the start of the robotic uprising. They are wiping out history! Our photos! our art! Our culture! Guess I'll get a 35mm point and shoot when I pick up my EVO. Got to preserve humanity!

  • LordLi

    +1 me too.. on htc desire, happens every ~3 days with 32gb card (sandisk). I can provoke it by installing two-three apps and quickly uninstalling them again. Annyoing, but not as much as teh RetardOS I switched from.

  • DivineBest

    is sprint aware of this at this point? will 6 days be enough time to fix an issue like this before launch?

  • Timber

    I have an EVO 4G from the I/O conference and I am NOT experiencing this problem.

  • svwo

    I also have an EVO from the I/O. I re-formatted the card prior to putting any thing on it and I haven't ha any of the problems stated above.

  • me

    I've got an io evo and the problem just started.

  • http://www.planetandroid.com Ed Burnette

    I had the same problem using the EVO 4G from Google I/O and the SD card it came with. I first noticed it when I tried to download a rom for the GBA emulator. It said I didn't have permissions. Then I tried to take a picture and that failed. It didn't happen until right after I plugged the phone into my PC for a little Android development, and after I unplugged it I started having the problems.

    One symptom is that when I used a program like Astro to try copying an mp3 file, the copy failed and the original was removed.

    I tried an SD format from the phone itself and it worked for a few minutes and then started failing again. Trying a factory reset now to see if that does anything.

  • David Asaro

    I have this same problem on my n1. And just as you described, a system reboot fixes it most of the time. I've had the problem since i got the phone in march. I was running 2.1 then and now im running the floating 2.2.

  • David Asaro

    I don't think i said anything about sd cards. I was noting that the problem is atleast a few months old now. What did you say that was relevent?

  • Marc Estenfelder

    I have 3 htc Hero's (Sprint). I have gone thru several 8gig card that I purchased from Radio Shack (scan disk). I have the replacement plan which allows me to exchange for a new card; but it doesn't make up for the lost pictures, videos and files.
    This problem with the card "sd card error/bad card" usually happens when the phone is powered off and then on again.
    The weird things is if it happens and I am by my pc, I can remove the card from the phone and insert it into my pc and start copying the files to the pc; but within minutes my pc no longer recognizes to card either. It is F'd up.
    I have noticed that most people are talking about this mention "8gig" cards. I had a Htc Touch from sprint. It was only suppose to take 2gig cards. I put my 8gig card in it and it all worked good. BUT every once in a while it would DO THIS SAME THING. ???? Do you think that the EVO should use a lower GIG memory card? Maybe it is the amount of memory? If my memory serves me right, I never had this problem with my 2gig card!
    Thanks, Marc

  • DennGir

    Had an Evo for quite a while now, testing it, and have had no problems with the sd card.

  • Dave

    Sounds like HTC maybe releasing the HTC UH-OH on June 4th...I have 3 on preorder...not so happy now.

  • http://evo4gsmartphones.com billsmed

    I have one of the Google I/O phones and had the same problem, but it can be solved by reformatting the SD card.

    Note: SD cards require a special format utility which you can download here: http://www.sdcard.org/consumers/formatter/. You can also find the manual there.

    One of the first things I would do is reformat the card. The problem for me didn't show up for a few days, but why take a chance?

    Mount the drive on the EVO then backup the files. Run the utility from the link above and then restore the files.

  • aLEX

    had same problem with mine.. got me a 16gb class 4 AND PROBLEM FIXED

    • SCB1898

      aLEX, How long ago did you last have the problem?

  • DivineBest

    @aLEX what brand did you purchase?

  • David Wallace

    I hope the fix is simple enough. My EVO is also having this problem, it is quite annoying. I fear for something being wrong with the Google batch. There is also the oddity that ShootMe works, when it should only work for rooted phones. That makes me wonder if the Google i/o evo's are truly the retail release.

  • Stevako

    I have the same problem here. Especially when I captured epic Video and pics. OTA should fix it..

  • Me

    As a few other people said I don't think it's linked to the EVO or to a defective SD batch.

    I have the same issue on my Desire. It happens completely randomly and is always fixed by a reboot. Still very annoying!

  • Ram

    I had the exact same problem on my Mytouch 1.2 (i.e. unable to save pictures, files disappearing fixed temporarily by a reboot, etc.). And yes, the SD card was a Class 2 8GB SanDisk. I didn't bug T-Mobile about it because I wanted to upgrade to a Class 6 anyways (the issue went away after I swapped out the cards). This seems to indicate a bad batch of SD cards rather than any other explanation.

  • http://evo4gsmartphone.com billsmed

    I left a message yesterday about downloading the SD Formatter, but that's not necessary with the EVO and maybe other Android phones. I have one of the EVO's from Google I/O and within a day or two I was getting SD errors.

    For those getting the phone on Friday, I would suggest formatting the SD card right away before you add any data. That completely solved the problems I was having.

    Go to Settings >> SD card & phone storage >> Unmount SD Card and click to unmount it. The next menu item is "Format SD card". Click it and you will get a warning that all data will be erased. Click it again to format the card and it's done in seconds.

    If you have data, back it up first, then copy it back to the card after it's formatted.

    • light

      I would add that you should save/back up whatever is on the card first - even for NEW OWNERS. That means you, if you are buying this Friday. IIRC, my Hero had some items on the card, like HTC Sync, and sample media. You might want to save these before you reformat right off the bat.

      By the way, I thought maybe we could see if there was a trend with the cards that have the error - maybe it's a combination of a type or capacity of card and a possible OS bug?

      My problems were with two cards, both were PQI 4 gb, class 6.

      • http://evo4gsmartphone.com billsmed

        You're right about backing up first, light.

        Apparently this issue has been resolved. A new member named bvalenzu25 at Android Forums posted this:

        "I contacted sprint about this problem [SD card issue] tonight, they told me they knew about it already. Sprint said the only phones that have this problem are the ones that google gave to their employees and to the reviewers. It was a software issue, apparently the issue was only with the first 2,000 phones google gave out. With the phones being released on June 4th, the software issue is resolved".

        Problem solved? I hope so.

        • light

          I'd love to think it was that simple, but based on some of the reports above, where this problem has manifest across card brands, speeds, capacities, and (most importantly) handsets, I'm not so sure. Of course, I hope so, but let's none of us be surprised if there are reports that trickle (and not flood) in after June 4.

  • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

    For everyone subscribed to new comments, please read the updates posted today.

    Update 6/1/2010: I have terrible news. While on vacation in France (and therefore unable to swap out the SD card for another), I have today spent a whole day in Monaco and Monte Carlo which ended up being my favorite little places in all of France and its surroundings.

    After taking a myriad of breathtaking and irreplaceable pictures and videos and coming home, I found none of them were present on the card. Instead, a LOST.DIR with about 2GB of data. The defect described here, which until now only needed a reboot to get fixed, has now progressed into something that I don’t think I’ll be able to recover from.

    Needless to say, this is highly upsetting – these pictures are not replaceable. If anyone has any tips on restoring data from a corrupted SD card, please let me know.

    Update 6/1/2010: According to a respectable member of Android Forums, Bek, who got in touch with Sprint Advanced Tech Support, the batch of EVO 4Gs distributed at Google I/O is the same as production units that are about to be shipped. Here’s the link to the post where he mentions that.

    If true, this means thousands of consumers are about to be very, very unhappy, and if you see my last update above, will likely eventually lose their data.

  • DesertDude

    I have an HTC Incredible and it is perfect. No SD issues.

  • http://RobertPesina.blogspot.com Robert Pesina

    I have the same problem with micro sd card issues on my evo. I would bet that its a phone hardware or phone software issue due to the fact that I have swapped sd cards from my hd2 and evo and every so often I get the same error on both cards. I have 2 16gb and 1 8gb micro sd cards and everyone has that issue.

  • http://www.beussery.com/blog/ Brian Ussery

    "I had the same problem with the phone from IO. Another odd thing… when we got the phones they also gave us 2GB micro SD cards…. I wonder if those were because the 8GB ones were known to be defective…."

    That 2GB card contained 200 songs. Any chance it's in your phone?

    I own 4 Androids and 3 HTC phones latest being EVO from IO and I've never experienced any of these issues. Has anyone considered what could be "changing" permissions? Anyone here using a Mac? Either way, I wouldn't suggest reformat unless necessary...

  • Wadael

    Just in case HTC people read this page.

    A part of IO attendees are not US resident.
    How to update the EVO software then ?

    I have the insuff. perms problem too.

  • DMV DJ

    this is already fixed via OTA update..

  • DMV DJ

    this issue was already fixed via OTA update.. Source: androidcentral.com

  • http://github.com/coyote blackfeather

    I just read that the over the air update will also block rooting the device. http://neow.in/bIEzCK

  • http://gregory.youngblood.me gsyoungblood

    I have an HTC Incredible and the internal 8 GB card (mounted as emmc) as well as the 8 GB class 6 microsd card (mounted as sdcard) will both frequently disappear. I just tried the auto remount tool from the market but that doesn't do anything for emmc.

    I know the problem is going to happen when I take a picture and the camera freezes. After it force closed I can take pictures again, but emmc will be gone. In settings it says the card is "unavailable" instead of listing used/free capacity.

    Very, very frustrating. Other than this one issue, which causes me to lose the photo I've taken but so far not lost everything, the phone has been wonderful.

    I got my Incredible at the end of April/beginning of May - if this is a bad batch of memory, it appears to affect more than just the Evo.

  • jmaz

    What is listed above is all news, folks. Here is my experience with the HTC EVO:

    It looks like HTC has gotten fat and sloppy with its smart phones offerings

    I read and researched all the reviews before the phone came out and they were all great reviews. I visited many of the familiar tech blogs sites such as engadget.com, gizmodo.com, etc. and they all gave the phone more or less stellar reviews. Needless to say, I rushed out and got this phone from RadioSchack. The first thing I noticed was a nagging high pitched static sound on recorded videos and anything recorded with the mike. The videos themselves were highly compressed which made it impossible to watch them on a high def monitor through an HDMI cable. What 720p? I took this phone (first batch, series 0002 ) back to RadioShack and got a new one from the new 003 batch. This one had a different color processing chip that performed worse than the one in the 0002 series. Guess what the same problems with the sound and casing resonance and the video. I took it back, got my money back and closed my Sprint account. They should deliver what they promise.

    I got to thinking, how can a phone maker design and make such a complex communication/entertainment device and do such a poor engineering job where it really counts-the sound. I mean that should be the most important element of any kind of telephone. In the EVO’s case there is some bad engineering going on. For example, the speaker membrane is exposed and poorly secured to the phone. This contributes to the nagging high pitched static sound that I experienced on these two HTC EVO’s. The second bad design element is that the back cover is made of thin hollow plastic which causes the distortion coming out of the speaker to resonate and thus become more noticeable. The sound is distorted, tinny and not clear. If you add to this all the problems that this phone has been having with the SD card, the battery and the 30fps video cap, you might have to consider that this phone is indeed a highly flawed phone as has been claimed by someone out there. Of course, I also fell for the front camera with the mirrored output image, the unusable Qik utility, the YouTube utility that does not work on 3G, and the nonexistent 4G signal, but there is nothing like having a phone that you can use to make clear, undistorted phone calls. It is such a satisfying feeling to be able to make clear telephone calls. The EVO is not made for this. For those of you who must have your EVO no matter what or that have not noticed any of these defects yet, I say to you good luck with your EVO my friend.
    Be careful when you read the crap put out by those overly excited and overly enthused tech bloggers out there in blog land. When they review tech equipment is as if they are getting a brand new toy for the first time so they forget to do any kind of in-depth testing of the devices that they review. This is especially true when they review the new so called smart phones. So,with a phone that has as many problems as features and more appearing everyday, EVO is not ready for the masses.

    Goodbye HTC, goodbye EVO.

  • ron

    Be very scared my card messed up the day after I updated when the phone received message saying update available, and then all of a sudden no videos, no songs many pictures gone. Called sprint they had different answers: "must be bad sd card", "must be updated", "turn off and on" none of it worked. Put in another sd card and it was good, but transferred old sd card files to new one and then doesn't read, so something I THINK must be wrong with the software and maybe it left a paper trail in a folder. That corrupts it cause a perfectly working sd card corrupts with transferred files. This is after the phone was formatted, and updated. I don't think the sd card was bad, I think the update loaded some kind of corrupt incompatible info. And blamed it on sd cards. Cause mine worked fine and then updated and then boom.

    • Jenn

      I WENT into the store and was speaking loudly (not rude) in a store full of customers and showed them this site and was quoting things on this blog. The customer service rep quickly gave me a free 16gb SD card without even looking up my info to "quiet" me down. Other people in the store that had an Evo asked to see the site. My suggestion to anyone who has this problem is to go directly to the Sprint store with this info handy. Post below this one is before going into store.

      • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

        Just to be clear, the issue discussed in this post plagued the EVO from the start and was fixed shortly after launch. It has nothing to do with whatever you're experiencing.

        • Jenn

          Not sure, but find it odd to update phone same day @Ron and had same problem. This is the second time this has happened to mine...only had phone for 3 months, and truly believe just from the visit that was made, they know there is a defect of some sort with either the phone itself or a faulty SD card? Idk, just know the guy sprinted to the back, handed me a formatted 16gb and politely said thank you for choosing Sprint, have a good day. Try the 8gb in your computer to try to pull the data....sometimes that works.

  • Jenn

    Just did an update on mine, also. I listened to music for about 20 minutes, powered my phone down, and as soon as I turned it back on, it said "please insert SD card"! Pix, music, all gone. I am not calling Sprint on this one.. I am waiting for the freaking' store to open right now.....let ya'all know if or what comes out of this.

  • John K

    I have an EVO 4g and a Lexor 32 gb class 10 SD card which was said to be corrupted right after booting back up after htc updated my system. My guess is that something in the update corrupted this SD card. I have a huge amount of pics and videos on this card, but tiny relative to the capacity of the card. I am not about to try to reformat it, I will go back to the original or smaller card and wait out my contract and get something not Sprint or htc and hope for the best. Presently I won't put anything into the SD slot as it may go the way of my 32 gb card. I'll just wait and watch blogs to see if someone, maybe even the manufacturer, has a fix.

  • http://www.androidgoo.com/ dimitbeba

    I have a similar problem with my nexus one, the gallery app cant find the memory card but when that happens its always solved by restarting the app

  • Espy

    Found this article when I had a problem with my 8GB microSD card after an HTC software update for my Evo 4G. Ultimately resolved by plugging the SD card into a multi-card reader and running a disk check (CHKDSK) on it under Windoze. This found and corrected one problem and then the card worked again in the phone. Perhaps this will help others...meanwhile, I'll be backing up more often.

  • Sandi R

    I have the HTC EVO 3D 4G. My 8G SanDisk suddenly became corrupted and I have been unable to access many photos from some very important events this summer. I will now try to transfer photos and videos to my computer sooner, but with this happening suddenly, how often is realistic to download? I would never trust a SanDisk again. I lost too many precious memories in photos. Makes me wonder what good this 3D camera is since I no longer feel comfortable using it. It becomes a very expensive smart phone. I am very disappointed. Anyone know of a way to try to retrieve photos. It has been loaded into a card reader at Sprint, Costco Photo and Wolf/Ritz photo. No one had any luck. The card tells them to reformat the card. Is there any software that can preserve these photos?

  • ob1clue

    I have recently had the same problem after having my phone for a year. I downloaded a lot of music onto my sd card just a few days ago and last night, I was seeing a message telling me to insert my sd card. I decided to take the phone to sprint and they gave me a new one. However, everything I had saved (pictures, downloads and music) was gone. Any suggestions on how to get my pictures off of my old sd card, please email me....[email protected]. Thanks!

    • paul

      My EVO camera function is telling me to insert an SD card too. I don't know what to do. I restarted the phone etc. It didn't work. ????

  • Jim Jim

    I have a 16g that got corrupted.after a reboot. I believe some software in evo is doing it. Sprint acted like they don't have a clue.

  • m

    This blog came out 10 months which means Evo, sprint etc must be aware of the issues by now yet theyre STILL selling it! I just got my HTC EVO 4g and ive tried two 8gb cards because we bought two phones and both cards kept saying insert Sd card and only stayed working about 10 minutes before doing it again!

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