Android 10 - MicroSD as phone storage

To anyone affected by the internal storage formatting issue (in this topic @Federico_Iadarola @Tschulius @brianleach @magoo @AnnaTreurniet):

Fairphone can’t reproduce this bug. Therefore, if you want them to work on it, please #contactsupport specifying in the subject: “A10 - SD card phone storage issue”, precising which SD-card model you own. The more data they will have, the better they will be able to work on it :slight_smile:

Can you also all confirm you are on the latest build of FPOS? If not, could you please update and try again?


Hi Alex (and others),
I am certain to be on the latest OS for FP3+, and I’m sure I was when I had the problems back then. I solved the issue by completely restarting from scratch, i.e. all settings to start with no SD card inserted, then installed all my apps etc. again and only then inserted the SD card, but as EXTERNAL/MOBILE. I cannot recommend to try again as INTERNAL, and would certainly not do myself, now that everythings is working fine…Cheers!

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Of course, I understand. Though could you just share what SD-card model you own (the one you had issues with)?

With pleasure :slight_smile:. It’s a ScanDisk 400GB card. Cheers.

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Hi there,

I have a SanDisk 128GB SD Card, which I also have had a ton of trouble with, until I found this thread!
I have the latest OS for FP3+.
Finally on my third reinstall, I’ve inserted the SD card as external for transferring photos etc. and I think all my apps now finally work.
I was bought this phone as a gift, and if the FP wasn’t so ethically awesome, I would have launched it through the window by now.
Gift-giver almost took it back to return!

Hope this info helps and please ask if you want to know more!


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@Hoots and @magoo
First of all welcome to the forum; and great, that you did not give up on Fairphone.
Hopefully this SD-card trouble is and remains your only concern.

Since there are quite a few different SanDisk cards out there, it could be helpful, to be more precise on the model. (The more info, the better; I would guess.)
If you take a look at the thread on compatible microSD-cards for the FP2, you will find, that e.g. the Samsung PRO+ 128 GB was reported to cause problems, while the Samsung EVO+ 128 GB and the Samsung EVO 128 GB were reported to work fine.

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Thanks for your reply. Makes sense to get as much info as possible!
I saw the thread but was unsure whether it applied to the FP3 too.

I have a SanDisk Ultra 80MBs Micro SD Memory Card - 128GB, although on trying to remember what the exact name of it is, I see that the shop I bought it from isn’t selling it anymore!

Glad to stick around anyways. This is indeed the only problem I have had.


Thanks a lot.
Sorry for creating a possible misunderstanding.
The thread is for the FP2 only and those experiences can not be applied for the FP3(+) .
I just meant to use it as an example, that one Samsung 128 GB works fine, while another model does not.

WOW! Fairphone knew of this since September and didn’t dare to disable the option in their OS. I just destroyed my memory, 3 months later, using the internal memory option. Didn’t expect to be obliged to double check for bugs on every option I select on my Android.

Good job that they are not even able to replicate the bugs, their users experience.

I recommended the FP3 to so many people until now, but this is really a gamechanger :(.

Hello to all,

I’ve been having the same issue, amazing that Fairphone actually allowed me to use my SD card as internal storage, when it would make all ma data disappear.

Things is, i still have hope to be able to recover my data: it is still there somewhere, it’s “just” that i can’t access it anymore. If i connect my FP to a computer via USB, it tells me that like 2Go are used on the SD card (which could be consistent with the volume of my data), but if i select the apparent folders, it only makes like 20Mo…
So where did all the rest go? Is there any way i could access the data i’ve been transferring to my SD card, and photos i’ve shot since then??
Many many thanks if you can help me with that, some of these pictures are valuable and could not be shot again…

My SC card is a Samsung 128 EVO+

Have nice day,


Same problem here. Really grumpy about this!
First, I had random reboots due to a Kodak 256 GB SD Card (formatted as external storage). After the latest update (that would address the random reboot issue), I was notified the Kodak SD Card was not supported. So, I stored the data on the card elsewhere and took the SD card out.

I used the FP3 for a while without SD Card, but the phone appeared to be slowing down. So, I looked whether I could find a list of supported SD Cards for FP3: it does not exist. But I read that the capacity limit was 400 GB. I decided to buy a Sandisk Extreme Pro 256 GB. (I just found out that it is fully compatible with FP2, but that doesn’t mean a thing.)

I put the SD Card in the phone and started it and got the question whether to format it as external, or as internal storage. Since the permanent notification about the external storage annoyed me before, I decided to use it as internal storage. No notifications or error messages appeared, so I thought it would all be alright. Until I received an image in Whatsapp, late in the evening. It failed to download. I wanted to ask what kind of file was sent to me, so I tried to send a screenshot. I selected the edited screenshot and tried to send it, but it wasn’t sent, because ‘the file was not on the SD card’.

I cannot yet determine how much data I have lost.

What angers me, is that this apparently is a known bug. Yet the question after inserting a new SD Card is not “would you like to destroy your data, yes or no”. Instead the question and the ‘yes’ are hidden under one of the options.

This comment from 20 September should be shown on the telephone, instead of in this thread which you are only going to read when it’s too late already:
Don’t format you sd card as internal storage except if you are sure of the implications!
Formatting the sd card as phone storage is known for breaking things on the phone, and you’re not the first one to report problems that occurred when doing this under android 10.

With my limited knowledge of computer systems, it appears that there are two ways (or more) to address the (merged) internal memory: one, used by file managers and the photos app, which successfully reads the storage contents, and one, used by the GMail and Whatsapp apps which does not.

The ‘SD Card Manager’ app, I use, crashes when I ask for an app list, which may be totally unrelated. My FP3, however, did propose to me to move a number of apps to the SD card, right after formatting the SD card,

I would very strongly suggest to only enable the formatting of the SD card as internal storage in the developer mode of the telephone, making sure you only do this when the phone is brand new, or when you are willing to risk losing all your data, or when you are trying to examine and solve this issue.

And also the camera app won’t start anymore (‘camera error’… well, more like storage error)


To mention: when I wrote this post, I was referring to common problems about internal storage: if the card breaks, or if you want to remove the card, your entire storage is broken. Most of the time, it should work.
It seems on android 10 on the FP3, it seems there is a specific problem with SD-cards formatted as internal storage (which is why I added an update in my post to mention it).

I highly agree. I have told FP about this topic, asked them to add a warning at least in their support article about SD-cards (which I was told they did, but I find the warning not sufficient).
SD-cards as internal storage aren’t a good idea in any case IMO.

@rae, would it be possible to reconsider @AnotherElk’s suggestion? I know it implies a change in FPOS and isn’t simple, but wouldn’t it be possible to add at least a warning inside the setup wizard stating “Formatting your SD-card as internal storage may cause storage issues on your phone. Are you sure you want to continue?” or similar?

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thanks for the remarks and reply. I have an update. Over here, they say the soup isn’t usually eaten as hot as it is served. And in my case, I think, I may not have lost any data at all.

What I did, was to connect the phone to a desktop and to go through all the folders and copy all usable files to the desktop storage. I then had some appointments and forgot about the issue. I was reminded, when I received a Whatsapp message and was able to see a part of a video that was sent to me. Apparently a part of the file could be stored and played. That may be useful information for someone figuring out what’s the problem.
Since I had backed up my files, I simply formatted the SD card as external storage. After a few seconds, my screen went black, I feared for the worst, but I simply unlocked the phone, and saw a message that the SD card was ready for files to be stored on it. I did a quick check on apps that had problems before. I could open Whatsapp and, yes!, see the videos in full that were sent to me. The camera opened normally, My Gmail app opened normally. So the problem is not a problem anymore, fortunately.

As to normal risks of using an SD card, I only experienced a harddisk die on me only once, somewhere in the '90s (a 640 MB fixed disk if I remember correctly). I’m also used to reliable SD cards in several phones (the one from my FP2 is already five years old). Nevertheless, I am very aware of data security, so, I regularly backup the photos I make on a NAS in RAID5 mode. The extra precautions for the SD card that could break, don’t add much weight to the risk of fatal damage to the entire phone (falling in a pond, dropping on the road, forgotten somewhere, being stolen, etc.). Just backup your data, in a cloud and on a NAS. I can also advise to make a list of important apps on your phone.

I hope this follow up was helpful.


Hello, I am just arriving at this thread after having followed the same footsteps of previous replies.

I have two questions:

  1. Accepting full-data loss of the SD card that I migrated to internal storage - do I need to fully reset the phone, or is it only app-specific data that got lost?
  2. If I use the SD card as external-storage only, what’s the best way to encrypt the data so that it’s usable within Android, but not accessible without logging in?

Probably you’ll have to completely reset the phone because the storage is broken. I say: try without wiping everything, and if it doesn’t work, then wipe everything.

You can try the EDS app, it has a paid version on google play allowing to mount an encrypted SD-card (but I haven’t tried it, my brother has tried the free version available on F-Droid, EDS Lite, and he told me it doesn’t allow mounting the SD-card as SD-card, which means the system won’t recognize the card, and the only way to use it would be from the app itself). Other methods imply complicated manipulations I wouldn’t risk.

I really hope Fairphone will manage to reproduce and fix this issue at some point.

Edit: Typos


I just ran into this problem myself and found a temporary solution so I wanted to share my experience with the rest of the community.

I have a Fairphone 3, after setting it up and restoring my data from a Google Drive backup I added a 128GB SanDisk Ultra micro-SD and formatted it as internal storage. I did not migrate my data at the time because I needed to use the phone right away and the procedure is rather long.

Fast forward one year the photo app informed me that I was running out of storage so I plugged my FP3 into the charger and started the migration procedure to move data to the SD card. The procedure finished successfully and the settings app showed the correct amount of data on both the onboard storage and SD card.

That’s when the trouble began: the photo app would take pictures but refused to save them and WhatsApp refused to download any kind of media (audio, video, PDF files, etc…).

I did not want to reformat my phone so I tried the following:

  • From the storage settings I ejected the SD card
  • I shut down my phone and physically removed the SD card
  • I rebooted my phone without the SD card, it complained that it was missing
  • I shut down my phone again and re-inserted the SD card
  • I rebooted the phone again and it picked up the SD card. Now the photo app works correctly and WhatsApp is also working as excepted

I’d like to consider the issue fixed by this little roundabout but I’m not sure if it really is: the storage settings don’t show the same amount of storage in use compared to when I did the migration. Additionally it shows that all the storage used on the SD card is taken by apps, but that’s not the case, the vast majority of it should be pictures and videos, but the corresponding entries show as if none of them were stored on the card.

I have extensive experience in Android development so I can help debug this issue. If Fairphone’s developers would like to contact me directly I’d be glad to help.


That’s quite good news! Is it still working?

You can #contactsupport as I said to take contact.
Otherwise perhaps @rae could relay this to the team.

I just discovered this issue myself.
I installed a 128Gb Sandisk class 10 microSD card, and formatted it as internal storage.

My camera app wasn’t saving photos anymore, so I formatted the SD card as external storage as recommended.

My camera app is working again but photos are saved to my internal storage just like before, so this is quite useless or I am missing something ?

Some apps allow to save their data straight to the SD card, although it can be tricky to correctly set this up. Anyway, I think especially with a camera app, it makes most sense to move the photos to the SD card every once in a while manually (using your file manager app). You will still be able to view your photos in the gallery (and perhaps even within the camera app).

Why is it useless? You can store your music, videos or whatever you want on this card.