Smartphone running slow? Change the flash card

IT pros looking for the best smartphones to supply to users – or to use for themselves – put a lot of stock in network speeds, CPU power or RAM when making the decision. But a new report says there’s another factor that will affect smartphone performance: 

The type of flash storage used.

The SD memory card used in a smartphone has a big impact on the speed of web browsing and other applications, according to a recent study conducted by Georgia Tech and NEC Corp.

Researchers tested a set of Android smartphones using a variety of flash cards. They measured the impact changing cards had on applications such as web browsers, email clients, Google Maps and Facebook.

The results: The choice of flash card had a big impact on performance for all of those applications — even during web browsing, where performance bottlenecks are typically blamed on network connections or the phone’s RAM and processing power.

On average, performance slowed down between 100% and 300% when relying on an SD card rather than the phone’s internal storage. The fastest flash card (manufactured by Transcend) made only a small difference in speeds, while one particularly poor performing card (Kingston) slowed web browsing by 2040%.

Researchers also found that the choice of flash card had a big impact on battery consumption — slower cards use up the battery quicker because the phone runs less efficiently.

The paper also recommended various ways smartphone makers could change storage configurations to improve performance. Download the study’s results to read more about the impact of storage on smartphone performance.