With most Android phones, we get to enjoy a lot of standards like USB Type-C and microSD external storage (on the few phones that still feature it). We get to avoid a lot of the proprietary junk from other manufacturers and the licensing costs that are often associated with it.
Unfortunately, it looks like we’re getting a bit of proprietary gear in the next Android flagship. The Huawei Mate 20 series was just announced and it will feature large amounts of internal storage, especially on the high-end models. There’s also external storage, but it’s not microSD.
The new NM Card is Huawei’s proprietary storage, and there’s a good reason for its existence. The card is the size and shape of a SIM card, so the dual SIM tray can also be used for external storage without making the tray significantly bigger to fit a microSD slot. The size difference is pretty cool to see as well.
The bad news is that the NM Card is proprietary to Huawei devices at the moment and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. Buying one of these cars relegates it to your Huawei device, and if you change your phone for a Samsung or a Pixel, that card is useless. As someone who swaps microSD cards between phones, cameras, and dashcams, this is a predicament. Maybe an adapter will exist but that’s just more stuff to buy.
Proprietary stuff rarely goes well (we’ve seen Sony’s proprietary storage die a slow and painful death) and we can’t see Huawei’s shot at it to go too much better. But it could still succeed in the companies biggest markets like China. Nonetheless, external storage may not be a defining factor in most people’s smartphone purchases (especially with such massive storage options) and this may be absolutely inconsequential to both Huawei and the consumers.