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Huawei’s New Mate 20s Use A Proprietary Memory Card

Yet another new card format emerges

Last night, Huawei made waves not just for the Mate 20 family, but also for the new innovations and technologies introduced along with them. One of the more intriguing ones was the introduction of a new card format called the Nano Memory (NM) card.

As explained in the presentation, the NM card aims to bring high-speed UHS-1 class (which means speeds of up to 104mbps) expandable storage in a card that is as big as a nanoSIM. The rationale for the new format is simple: to reduce the size of removable components in order to make room for internal components like a bigger battery. In principle, NM cards let you use your phone’s NanoSIM slot, reducing the size of SIM/memory card trays.

This makes sense especially with the adaptation of eSIMs by some companies like Google and Apple, where SIM trays can be utilized for storage expansion instead. Since some phones come with two NanoSIM slots, this means that a phone that supports NM cards can carry up two of them at the same time—assuming it has a built-in eSIM.

While the said innovation is groundbreaking—at least on paper—there are many questions left unanswered: will it be proprietary Huawei tech? Can it work with phones without an actual memory card slot like the P20 and P20 Pro? How much will they cost?

Regardless of how much they will cost, the challenge with the new NM card format is wider adaptability and compatibility. Sony is among those tech brands known for making proprietary products, and they have practically abandoned their own Memory Stick format for the widely-used SD card. Keeping their tech proprietary was among the reasons why the Betamax, MiniDisc, and the PlayStation Vita became technological flops for Sony.

Proprietary tech aside, the willingness to adapt to a new card format is put into question as well. During the early 2010s, new card formats XQD and CFast were unveiled, offering faster speeds than CF and SD cards. Fast forward to 2018, there are a few products that support both new card formats.

If Huawei is serious about this new NM card format, they can avoid the mistakes of past proprietary card formats by giving them a fair price and bundling in adapters so that they can be used with phones sporting MicroSD card slots. In addition, they could perhaps introduce more devices—not limited to phones—that support NM cards.

We can’t deny the promises NM cards bring to mobile devices. However, Huawei has to make the right decisions or in order to make this new memory card format prosper in the foreseeable future. 

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