How to Add External Storage to a Galaxy S4

Determine Your Storage Needs

First things first, your own personal storage needs must be determined. You, either knowingly or unknowingly, have purchased a smartphone with the option to expand and replace both its internal storage and its battery. For now, decide if you even need more storage than the phone provides by default. Since the S4 seems to be mostly sold in its 16GB configuration, that is likely the amount you have as well. However, all 16GB is not available to you, the user. After Android 4.2 and all of Samsung's myriad apps, features, and gimmicks have been installed, you have about 10GB of internal storage left with which you can work.

So why would you need more space? There are three main use scenarios in which you would:

  1. Your phone is replacing or is becoming your mp3 player.
  2. Your phone is becoming your media player (videos/games).
  3. Your phone will be used as a video camera.

If you intend one or more of these to be true for your phone, then you will need expandable storage. If not, you're probably not a phone "power user", and can go about your day.

Purchase the Right Card

OK, since you're still reading, I assume that means you know that you need to expand your S4's storage. Great! Now you need to pick out a Micro SD card to go into your phone. Here is where a very important distinction must be made; purchase a Class 4 or slower micro SD card. Do a quick Google search, and you will see a host of people complaining about their phones unmounting their cards or giving them formatting error messages. The reason for this is that the S4, for whatever reason, does not play nice with Class 10 cards. Either due to the speeds or just the interface, the phone, as I experienced first-hand, will suddenly stop accessing files on the SD card and give a card format error if it is Class 10 type. I think this is a big oversight by Samsung, but it is the reality of the situation now. The good news is, Class 4 cards work great! So when shopping for a card, make absolute sure it is Class 4 or slower. I returned my Class 10 card for a Class 4 type and have had zero problems since.

Class 4 micro SD cards are available in capacities up to 32GB (over 3 times the user-accessible phone storage for the 16GB model!) and cost around $22. As a side note here, never purchase SD cards (or really any cell phone accessories) from the store you purchased the phone at. They price gouge hard, easily taking a 300% markup from the sale. Avoid them at all costs.

Installing Your Card

Installing an SD card into your Galaxy S4 is incredibly simple. Note that the phone does not have to be powered off for this process, either, making it that much easier. Here's how to do it:

  1. Remove the plastic back cover from the phone. It has small plastic tabs that keep it in place. The easiest way to do this is to pry a bit from the end of the phone where you connect the charging cable, as there is a gap there which allows for some leverage. Once you've got it started, continue popping the back off of the tabs until it comes free.
  2. The Micro SD card slot is located above the battery and to the left of the SIM card slot (Verizon model). slide the micro SD card face up, gold contacts down into this slot.
  3. You're done! Pop the cover back on the back, and we're in business.
  4. (Optional): If it would make you feel better, or if you are using an existing micro SD card with old data on it, you can format the card once it's been installed. Be warned--formatting an SD card will erase all content on it, so only do so after a full backup of the SD card! Then, turn on the phone, and swipe from the top to access the phone settings. Tap the gear icon in the top right, then tap on the "More" tab. Scroll down to the bottom and tap "Storage". Scroll down again and tap "Format SD card". Confirm, and you're good to go!

A good look at the back of the S4 with no cover. The Micro SD card slot is located above the battery, and next to the SIM card slot.
A good look at the back of the S4 with no cover. The Micro SD card slot is located above the battery, and next to the SIM card slot. | Source

32 GB of Storage Gets You...

(click column header to sort results)
HD movies
MP3s (256 kbps)
HD Photos
1080p Video Shooting
~4 hours

Comments 20 comments

David 2 years ago

Thanks for the helpful information. My wife and I both got Galaxy S4s at Sprint store and I installed an old micro SD card from both our phones--albeit small capacity. Mine has worded fine and hers has worked sporadically until she gets the dreaded error message about blank SD card.

TheBwazel profile image

TheBwazel 2 years ago from USA Author

Hey David,

I have seen that some people appear to have had problems with SD cards regardless of whether they were class 10 or not (you didn't specify). However, that was the best advice I had, as that is what worked for me. Glad you liked the article.

David 2 years ago

Thanks again. I decided to forge ahead and buy two 32 gig Class 4 Kingston cards from Amazon. Note that the price is $21.19/card as opposed to the $15.99 shown above.

TheBwazel profile image

TheBwazel 2 years ago from USA Author

Not sure where you mean, in the "Purchasing the Right Card" section I mention cards are around $22. Looking on Amazon it seems you can get them for a little bit less than that too.

lauren 2 years ago

So I purchased a class 4 8gb and fire some reason I am having the same problem. When I first put it in it haf mounted fine and then unmounted itself and hasn't mounted since. :/

Gary 2 years ago

Thank you very much for the article! I would have gone out and bought the Class 10 64gb for my new galaxy S4, but instead I went with the Class 4 32gb on amazon ($18.99, plus $3.99 for overnight shipping).

Eric 2 years ago

Hi, good article i found it very useful the only issue i have now is that i cannot get movies from video player to save to the sim and not the internal memory i have tried to set it under applications manager. Any ideas on the matter?? Thanks

Samantha 2 years ago

I just bought a micro sd card cuz I'm out of storage on my Galaxy S4 (I only have an 8gb phone) and when I go to storage to Format the sd card, it says "deletes all data on sd card, including music and pictures). I don't want any of my pictures deleted and I don't know if formating the new SD card will do that. Please let me know so I know whether or not I can add more storage to my phone. Thanks

TheBwazel profile image

TheBwazel 2 years ago from USA Author

@Samantha: Formatting the SD card will erase any data on it. However, if the phone recognizes the card when you put it in, no format is necessary. There is usually no need to perform a format.

roni 2 years ago

I just bought an sd card coz I was running short of storage space but the after inserting it still the fon shows an icon that space is running out on my device. What to do.

emmett 2 years ago

Anyone have data on the amount of SD card space the S4 can address. (As a maximum?)

TheBwazel profile image

TheBwazel 2 years ago from USA Author


According to Wikipedia, the S4 can address up to a 64GB MicroSDXC card.

Moving data fromone card to another 2 years ago

Thanks so much for this great info! Just ordered the card you recommended. I've been having issues with storage/SD card (not sure which class my current 8GB card is) and photos getting deleted randomly. :( Luckily, I have dropbox, but I'd rather not have the issues at all. Hoping this solves the issue.

My question: is it ok to copy everything (apps, photos, files etc) from my existing Micro SD to my new card (using my laptop)? I was worried that the issue with randomly deleting could be due to some sort of corruption of the files?



TheBwazel profile image

TheBwazel 2 years ago from USA Author


It should be totally fine to copy the data from your existing SD card to a new one, assuming the new one works as expected. In my experience, the issue is with the transfer speed interface, not the data structure of the card.

Allison 2 years ago

Thanks again! The folder entitled "Android" wont copy over. Any ideas? I've been dragging the folders from one SD card to the other using my laptop. i tried that and a copy and paste - neither worked.

uforje 2 years ago

I just bought a class 4 microSD 32 gb. I have a 16 gb microSD & want to know how to make a smooth transfer?

Gloria 2 years ago

I formatted my S4, lost some apps that came with the phone. Now I'm trying to download and install these apps again. Once I try to install the apps the phone runs out of storage space. I checked my app manager from SETTINGS and found only 1.1 GB of internal memory. The apps I installed on the phone are few.

I would like to know what went wrong with the internal memory and how it can be remedied

Goldleafs profile image

Goldleafs 2 years ago

I have s4 can I do like this to use microSD card.

Miro Slavz 23 months ago

From what I've read the S4 can accommodate up to 64gb...does this sound accurate...I plan on putting all my music on the card does anyone know of any issues of the phone accessing the music with the player?

bobcat 21 months ago

don't think you can get Class 4 64gb cards though!

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