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So you want to add a 128 GB SD card to your Windows Phone? Here's what to expect

A few weeks back, we reported on how the new SanDisk 128 GB micro SD card works on the Lumia 1520. Since that time, it has also been confirmed to work on the new ATIV SE from Samsung and even Nokia boasts it on their Lumia 630 page.

In other words, 128 GB cards are a ‘go’ on Windows Phone, should you be blessed with an expansion slot (cue rants for those without…now). I managed to get my hands on one of these elusive cards (they’re in high demand, short supply) and have successfully upgraded my Lumia 1520’s 64 GB to this 128 GB version.

Want to know how it went? Read on for some tips and what to expect if you choose to do the same!

Does Nokia endorse this?

Yes. As noted above, Nokia is now listing 128 GB support for their Lumia phones with an expansion card, at least for devices with Windows Phone 8.1. 

How much is this card?

Amazon has it for $119.99 (opens in new tab). That’s about 3x as expensive as the 64 GB version, so there is definitely a premium bump in price here. Amazon actually has some in stock now, which is new, so if you’re thinking about getting it, do it now.

Why Amazon?

I’m not here to tell you where to spend your money, but there are a lot of counterfeit cards on the market and ‘grey market’ items. Luckily, 128 GB is so rare that’s it’s hard to fake. Still, at least through Amazon you know you’re getting something authentic and they have a good return policy. Just my 2 cents. (Plus, eBay tends to be even more expensive).

How much space do you actually get?

On a blank card inserted into a Windows Phone you're looking at 119.05 GB of free/available space with the 128 GB card.

Remove Card

Can you transfer/upgrade from an already used card?

Yes. Here’s how I did it (on Windows Phone 8.1)

  1. Settings
  2. Storage Sense
  3. Tap ‘SD Card’
  4. Scroll down until you see ‘Remove SD card’ and tap
  5. Remove existing card

I then put the new card in and hit ‘no’ on if I want to store my files there. I formatted the card using the same steps above, but selecting ‘Format SD Card’ instead. I did this more as a precaution than anything, so I don’t think it’s necessary.

Next, I used two card readers to mount each one to my PC (the 128 GB card comes with a micro SD to SD converter). If you don’t have two, you can just copy to the PC and from the PC to the new card, it’s an extra step and it will take longer, but it’ll work.

Copy to 128 GB card via PC

Once mounted, I copy/pasted the files to the new card. I transferred about 9 GB, and it took about 11 minutes on a Core i7, so plan accordingly as this can take some time.

Finally, I placed the new 128 GB card in the phone and chose ‘yes’ for putting new files on it (you can always modify this under Settings > Storage Sense if you change your mind).

Re-indexing of photos

Keep in mind, the OS will need to re-index your photos (see above) and music, and that can take some time. For my photos, it was about another 10-15 minutes before it organized them by date (about 5% were not able to be and were moved into a default date position). The good news here though is the OS did organize my files accordingly, even if it took time.

Moving apps and games to the new card

We already detailed how to do this in Windows Phone 8.1 so I won’t repeat it here. Just head to our guide to learn more as it’s super simple and highly recommended.

Moving about 4 GB of data from apps and games took another 15 minutes or so, but it was worth it.

Storage Sense and 128 GB

Do apps and games run well on the card?

Yes! It’s kind of weird, but at least on the Lumia 1520, I cannot tell the difference between the two. That’s not to say there aren’t differences though. Games, like Jetpack Joyride take about an extra 1-2 seconds to load, when compared to a game stored in main memory (Lumia Icon versus Lumia 1520, for reference). It’s one of those things you won’t notice until you directly compare, so it’s not a big deal. Once the game is loaded though, I have not noticed any stuttering issues or oddities. That’s not to say you may not experience such hiccups, but for the most part, it works and works well.

Music files and images are great, with no noticeable decline in performance. Navigon GPS though did throw an error at me, which was unfortunate (luckily I can just move it back).

Is there a video recording stutter?

Nope. This was an issue with my 64 GB SanDisk version and those on certain Lumia’s know what I’m referring to. The problem happens when you record video; the card cannot keep up due to a buffer/speed tradeoff. As a result, videos on playback can have an occasional stutter. I shot a few videos* with the 128 GB SanDisk and had no such issues, so not only do I now get more memory, but also it’s better than before.

*Video was tested at 1080P at 30 FPS with directional stereo

128 GB of storage

Conclusion

I’m pretty excited over the 128 GB card. Sure, it’s pricey, but when you consider how much music, images, videos and now even apps and games I can put on it, it’s a great option for you hardcore users. I highly doubt I’ll fill it up, but it’s good to know that it’s there, and it works well on Windows Phone.

Besides the price barrier, I can’t see any downsides to this option if it’s an option for you. With Windows Phone 8.1, you can have a lot of available memory with the ability to move apps and games to the card, opening a lot of opportunity, especially for those with lower-end devices like the Lumia 520 or 720.

Do you have questions about this card? Ask away, and I’ll try to answer, or if you have this card already, share your experience below!

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

255 Comments
  • Icon :(  
  • :(  I once had a dream I had an Icon on AT&T. :_(
  • I once had a dream that AT&T customers should be happy with their exclusives and let us T-Mobile customer have a bit of fun with exclusives...at least once. 925 was our flagship phone and AT&T took away all the fun by having the same exact model made for it too.
  • why dont you get an unlocked phone? and insert any provider you want?
  • If only my 1020 had MicroSD support lol :( 
  • Seriously, and they don't even give you a way to archive those __highres.jpg images.  Here's to hoping MS starts prioritizing MicroSD in the phones they engineer.
  • Yeah. I take a good amount of pics but never come close to filling up my 1020 storage but for all of those narcissistic selfie lovers though ;)
  • I've filled up my 1020 at least 2 or 3 times with RAW/DNG images (and apps of course), but it's never really been a big problem with all the Onedrive storage I have (257GB here). I keep "auto upload over wifi" on, make sure all my latest pics are there, then wipe my phone clean and start over.
  • I do the exact same thing on my Lumia Icon.  I know I have lots of available space, but I like my phone to be clean, so I upload all my images to my OneDrive account, check on my PC to ensure they are all there, then I delete them from my phone.  If I want to see my pics, I just open OneDrive on my phone and view the pics from there.  Granted this required a good internet connection, but with Verizon, that's hardly ever a problem.  :-)
  • The auto-upload doesn't upload the original high-res photos though (I thought) - has this changed with 8.1?
  • No, you're right. If you've taken full res RAW/DNG or even the 34/38MP jpegs, those must be manually uploaded to Onedrive. I believe AT&T's Locker storage (I got the free 50GB) does auto-upload the hi-res pics though.
  • Oh wow I didn't know there was a way to manually upload the highres pics to OneDrive directly from the phone. I've been transferring to my surface via USB. I tried at&t locker for a while, but finally decided that it sucked and was very unreliable so I gave up.
  • yeah or i possibly they'd give us option of ordering the 64gb version online , that would be cool, since that's only available to carriers in Br and UK.
  • Wonder if this will work in the original Surface Pro too... ;)
  • Should do. Most devices that claim to be able to read 64GB can actually read more. Though it's a pretty costly gamble, unless you have a way of testing it before you buy one.
  • The specs have always said compatible with 128 GB cards, so no gamble.
  • Yes.
  • I was talking to a Microsoft guy in one of these retail stores he told me at least that the second generation surfaces are capable of SD memory cards with up to 500GB of storage.
    I looked kind of irritated and asked him like: But there are no 500gb SD cards right now. The guy was smiling and just said: That's true but as I said it would be able to handle these. :D
  • The problem I had with the surface is that it wouldn't read my sd card. Idk if I had one of the first surface rts, with it def had an issue with the memory card. Now I use it in my 1520 with no hiccup
  • Mine is the Surface RT and I am using a Kingston Class 10 microSD card (32GB). The latter is readable and I can copy files into it and play music/videos and such without any issues. Maybe it is defective (the Surface RT)?
  • It does.  I installed one weeks ago and it works just fine.
  • Will it also work with the Surface 2 (RT)?
  • Yes it will... Planning on getting one for my Surface 2 soon!
  • Gotta try it with my 1520 though :D
    Seem faster? ;)
  • Using a 64gb in my ativ s neo and it just nice having that option to movie big games on to the SD card and keep ur phone memory nice empty a 64gb is already going a long way.
  • The apps start lagging on my class 10 sd card if the card is in use (if u are installing apps or u are syncing ur phone with the pc) otherwise it works great..
  • 128 is to much on a phone. To way much
  • You can never have enough memory. My wu-tang collection alone is bigger than that.
  • Upvote
  • Agreed
  • Great. Someone else telling me how much memory I do and don't need. Thanks, Arnold.
  • Nope. On my Lumia 1520 that I'd like to use for the next 4-5 years, with all those pure view shots, HD movies, big games and maps, the card will fill up beyond the 64GB barrier.
  • Who are you to say how much storage someone else should have on their phone? Worry about your own phone. Douche.
  • And 640KB of RAM should be enough for everyone.
  • My 80GB Zune with only 6GBs left available tells me otherwise.
  • *Way too much. Except it isn't if you want an ipod/mp3 player replacement.
  • Even then, my 120GB iPod classic is almost full.
  • Troll
  • Go for one! ^^
    It sounds very good that doesn't cause video stutter, I had a 64Gb and it cause a lot issues. So this 128Gbs would expand the memory and :) even better :)
  • I would pick this up in a heartbeat. My only problem. No availability of the 1520 on Rogers. :(
  • Yup, that's lame. They passed on it because they had "too many" phablets, mostly from Samsung, that weren't doing too well. Got cold feet.
  • Hey Dan, thanx for a review, bit common man jetpack joyride is not a very demanding game, if you can please try FIFA 14 or asphalt 8 and I don't mean the load time but the gameplay itself, is it still smooth with no lagging? Thanx.
  • I did try other games like Trial Xtreme 3, Uber Racer and Rayman Fiesta with no noticeable issues (Xtreme would stutter once or twice, but hard to tell if it was the game or card, but it wasn't an issue). Rule of thumb is this: keep your high demand aps/games in main memory, move other stuff to SD. With the ability in 8.1 to micro manage which apps/games go where, there's no reason why you couldn't keep FIFA or Asphalt in main mem, with lighter games and app on the SD card.
  • Thanx, well 1520 with 16gb not much I can keep on main memory, but I was thinking the same thing just keep most played games and then switch around. Thanx again
  • Hey different issue. I have access to the old music hub. It works great. My problem is I'm seeing old albums in my list. I can't delete them. They also don't appear in the new Xbox music app or when I browser folder on my PC. Have you come across this?
  • The only way to fix this would be to hard reset your phone
  • I dont get why they dont do what even Apple does. Sell it unlocked from their store directly. It would not be cheap, but at least it would be available and be backed by a warranty. The 1520.3 version will work on every Canadian carrier at the optimum speeds.  
  • Get one on eBay. Why wait for that foolish carrier?
  • I might
  • If you can spare $800 you can get the ultimate pentaband RM-938 from omegacell (Alberta store) including tax & shipping, otherwise a cheaper standard variant is available from a Toronto store (Canadagsm) for $600.
  • Thanks for the Canadagsm link. I will check it out.
  • Be really careful with the Canada GSM version. It does not support AWS and I believe is also missing one of the bands for Bell and Telus LTE.
  • Lmao I read that as An orgasm of Canada then I realized you were talking about the network
  • i wonder if it would work in an 820 so i could store all my media on it  
  • I'm not sure why it wouldn't.
  • I don't think so, I thought the 820 only supported 64, but I could be wrong.
  • Most devices that claim to support 64GB can easily support more, but you'd want to be sure before dropping that much money on the SD card.
  • If it's SDXC, it'll work. If it's SDHC... Maybe.
  • SdHc doesn't support 64GB. Sdxc supports up to 2TB in theory, but that unfortunately does not mean any sdxc device can use the future 2TB cards. Or even the 128GB cards. Gonna need someone to test.
  • SDHC is FAT32 formatted by default. SDXC is exFAT formatted by default. Are there any other differences with the two SD standards other than size and default file system?
  • The underlying technology is different and allows for higher capacities. Think CD and DVD
  • 6 years ago I bought a Nokia 6120 classic, Nokia claimed that it could only support SD cards up to 2gb. But you know what I have been using a 16gb in that phone up to this day and it works just fine
  • Good for you? They must have put sdhc in it and misadvertised, because the limits for SD, sdhc, and sdxc are not lies.
  • "SdHc doesn't support 64GB." Yea, that's what I thought too.  My ATIV SE specs clearly say "SDHC."  It's currently using one of these 128 GB cards and doing it well.
  • Yes they misadvertised, as I said in my post. Your phone isn't sdhc.
  • The 128GB micro SD card works just fine in my 820 and worked in my 521 before I sold the phone
  • Thanks for clearing that doubt..i was also planning to upgrade the SD card in my 820...
  • Have you upgraded your memory already? Is it already working the 128 GB on NL820 ?
  • Have the same conundrum as well, NL820 with 32 GB class 10. It would be much appreciated if this (128Gb) could be tested, used, and functioning properly on this infamous device.
  • It works just fine in my 820. My wife now understands why  I kept my 820 when she upgraded to a 925. Now if only microsoft would come out with a upgrade to the 820. 830 anyone?
  • WAY too much for me on my phone...
  • Huuuuuuuuge!
  • I experience stutter on my 64gb Lumia 1520 while making videos, on my way to Amazon now to get the 128 :|. Tnx for the info
  • Yeah, that was super frustrating to experience, especially since you didn't know until playback. So far though, 128 GB is working like a champ.
  • Ordered it...will keep you posted if it really makes a difference
  • Hey Daniel, you didn't mention anything about saving the Nokia maps onto the SD card.  I received my 128 card from Amazon too, and almost finished downloading all the maps onto the card. :)  You have to use the Lumia Storage Check app to save on SD card.
  • Cool, good point.
  • Daniel, you find a way to move apps from card to card?  Replaced a 64 with a 128.  The computer doesn't see any of the Windows Phone system stuff like the apps or associated files (Off line Maps.)
  • I already have most of my apps installed to my 64GB SD card.  If I move to this 128GB card, can I just copy the files and expect the apps to continue working?  Or do I need to transfer the app to phone storage, switch cards, then transfer the app back to the new SD card?
  • If you do it the way I outlined above, I see no reason why you couldn't just copy 'em.
  • May be there is no reason why but, in fact, apps are no more useable and I see no photo in Photo Hub
  • The app data is encrypted to your phone's serial number I believe. So as long as it goes back into the same phone then it can read the apps that are there.
  • It didn't work for me like that with apps. In the app list they showed as needing the old card reinstalled. I only moved a few, and deleted then reinstalled on to the new card.
  • So what limits the SD expansion (assuming your phone as the SD expansion slot) - the hardware or the OS?  
  • A bit of both, though it's mostly the OS that causes issues. Once an OS gets SDXC support though, it's pretty limitless.
  • So on WP 8.1, is it possible for all phones to have such an expansion? Please update me.
  • Technically, 128 GB works on 8.0 already. With 8.1, you get the ability to install apps/games to the card (individually) and save downloads there too. But yeah, all devices with an expansion slot should be okay, even the 520.
  • Thanks, Daniel.  So, adding 128GB to my Samsung ATIV S with WP8.1 should work...
  • Yup. I'd be shocked otherwise.
  • Definitely worth checking out then...  once the price comes down a bit that is!  :-)
  • Will be getting one for my next WP. Flagship with SD slot I hope.
  • This makes me consider getting a 1520 rather than waiting for the 930. But it's so BIG!!!! (that's what she said) (she didn't really)
  • They're both great devices. I carry both around (Icon/1520). For me, 32 GB is more than enough for most things, but yeah, being able to do this...it's kind of bonus.
  • Yeah that's my thinking too. Struggling a little with the 16GB on my 925 now and like to get a new WP each year. Cheers for the reply.
  • Don't worry about the size. I used to feel exactly the same and was worried getting the phone, but I was surprised how quickly I got used to it. It doesn't feel too big anymore. I'm loving it and have no regrets.
  • "Don't worry about the size".....that's what she said?
  • No no no, that's what he told her! She was looking a bit nervous, so he just tried to ease her mind. Then she figured out that she really did love it and that she shouldn't have been worried in the first place!
  • After format memory card can I move apps from phone to SD Card as I want to move files (songs,pics etc.) after moving apps & via data cable.
    Any problem in that, moreover I want to use 32GB Card.
  • Yup. See our guide listed above.
  • Why would a 64gb card experience shatter problem and not 128gb one if they are of the same class? It's good to be realistic