RIM BlackBerry How To: Insert, Format and Use microSD Memory Cards

Your RIM BlackBerry may not have as much built-in memory as that fancy new iPhone, but it has something Apple's smartphone doesn't: A microSD card slot for external flash memory. Here's how to set up and use a BlackBerry memory card, encrypt data and use your BlackBerry like a USB stick.

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Tue, July 08, 2008

CIO — If only expanding your own mental storage capacity was as simple as increasing a Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry's memory.

The majority of modern smartphones have media players and image viewers so you can listen to your favorite tunes, watch video clips and scroll through digital picture albums. But media files, particularly video, tend to be rather large, and there's only so much your BlackBerry's internal memory can hold--after all, your device is already storing and running the handheld operating system (OS) and all its various components. To the rescue: microSD flash memory cards.

Our previous BlackBerry How To articles have offered you various BlackBerry software downloads--free, open source and otherwise--plus keyboard shortcuts, tips and tricks, battery-life advice and suggestions on how to free valuable internal smartphone memory. This time around, we'll show you how to increase your available memory for storing media by using a microSD card.

1) Drop Some Cash, Pick Up a microSD Card

Memory cards like microSD and miniSD are commonly used in personal electronics such as digital cameras, game consoles and GPS units, and they can be purchased in retail shops like Best Buy and Circuit City or online for significantly less from sites like NewEgg.com or Amazon.com. One gigabyte (GB) microSD cards go for as little as $4 on NewEgg and 4GB microSDHC (high capacity) cards go for $15.99 or less on Amazon.

The full lineup of RIM's 8100, 8300 and 8800 series of devices feature microSD card slots, as does the upcoming BlackBerry Bold--and according to rumors, so will the company's touch screen-based device, the "Thunder 9500"--but the cards are sold separately. In fact, the BlackBerry 8700 is the only 8xxx series device that doesn't have expandable memory functionality.

image of BlackBerry Curve with microSD cards
BlackBerry Curve 8320 with microSD Cards

The largest size memory card your BlackBerry device will support depends on the version of handheld OS software you're running. For instance, BlackBerry handheld OS v4.2.0 supports up to 2GB; OS v4.2.1 and v4.2.2 support up to 4GB; and devices running v4.3--which will officially be known as v4.5 upon its general release--will support up to 8GB, according to a post on RIM's official support forums. (A BlackBerry Bold product manager also told us at RIM's Wireless Enterprise Symposium in May that the Bold device can potentially support a 32GB microSDHC card, though the current software it will initially ship with, OS v4.6, won't be ready for 32GB cards.)

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