Samsung's new Galaxy S21 series is finally official, and most of the attention is on the new features: updated cameras, more consistent 120Hz, S Pen support on the Ultra, and so on. However, there is one detail that slipped under the radar. The Galaxy S21 series marks the end of microSD card support, a selling point since the original Galaxy S (though that phone used full-size SD cards).
All three phones in the S21 series — the base S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra — all lack microSD expansion. The phones start at 128GB of internal storage, and can go up to 512GB on the S21 Ultra, or 256GB on the S21 and S21+. Once you run out of that allowance, you're stuck dealing with cloud storage. The move isn't entirely uprising, since the Galaxy Z Fold2 and Z Flip also lacked SD card slots, but it's still a shame to see.
Samsung never supported Android's adoptable storage feature.
The removal of microSD card support likely won't be a deal-breaker for many potential buyers, especially since Samsung never supported Android's adoptable storage feature, so microSD cards couldn't be easily used for storing applications. However, it is yet another hardware feature that mid-range and entry-level phones will (likely) continue to offer for years to come, giving them a bizarre edge over flagship devices. Even with Samsung's limited software, microSD cards were still a great way to store vast amounts of photos, movies, and music on the go.
Samsung is the largest manufacturer of Android devices, and often serves as a model for other companies, so it will be interesting to see which flagship devices kill off the microSD card slot next. No recent phones from OnePlus or Google support SD cards, but most devices from LG, Sony, Motorola (except the Edge+), and others continue to have SD slots.