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Let’s talk about a new form of memory expansion cards – the NM card from Huawei. Huawei introduced this brand new standard of memory cards for the Mate 20 series of smartphones. The NM card is a bold move from Huawei, and many people seem to be skeptical about it. We understand why – and we’re going to talk about NM cards here.

Here are few things you need to know about NM cards – which are only used in the Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, and Mate 20 X for now.

What exactly is NM card?

NM card, or Nano Memory card as Huawei calls it, is a brand new form factor of expandable storage cards. They’ve compared it with microSD cards, which was announced in the year 2005, was compared heavily with the NM cards.

NM Card presentation Richard Yu
Photo from The Verge.

The new NM cards are in fact, smaller than a microSD card and shaped like a nano SIM card. Actually, you can get confused between NM cards and nano SIM cards because they have the same size and and also similar-looking golden pads.

NM card connectors

Compared to a microSD though, there are quite a few major differences. Firstly being the size – obviously. The microSD card is 15mm×11mm×1mm in dimension, and has a slight tapering at the connector side. The NM card however, is 12.3mm×8mm×0.67mm in dimension – again, same as the nano SIM size.

NM card vs microSD

Second difference is where the connectors are located. MicroSD cards has its connectors placed at the edge of the tapered end, whereas NM cards has the entire surface covered in gold pads as connectors.

What’s the benefit of NM cards over microSD?

From an engineering perspective, the new NM card’s main focus isn’t particularly about the card’s size, but how the card connectors are shaped. Instead of protruding the entire card lengthwise into the phone itself, the NM card can be placed underneath the SD card.

NM Card presentation Richard Yu
A new approach to how dual-SIM phones work. Photo from The Verge.

Since the NM card can be slotted under the nano SIM, that means you’ll have much more space inside the phone for other components – like a bigger battery – and what’s the Mate 20 series has.

Is the NM card faster than microSD?

As of now, we still don’t have any benchmarks of NM card’s speed. From all of the renders that was shown – even the one shown during Mate 20’s launch in London – displayed a big “90MB/s” on the card. We can only assume that the 90MB/s here means that its sequential read speed peaks at 90MB/s – which is actually very common among microSD cards these days.

Huawei NM Card 128GB

However, we do not have any information about its sequential write speeds or the random 4K read/write speeds, which determines how fast data can be access when scattered around. This is particularly important for cases like when we open up the photo gallery app and it has 500 pictures inside.

The price of the NM card?

Here’s a tough question to answer. Specifically for Malaysia, we’ll have the 128GB NM card available starting 15th November 2018, and the price is at a hefty RM298.

Yes, that is the official price of the NM card. We know what you’re thinking – calm down and let’s take a step back first.

128GB MicroSD cards with up to 100MB/s read speed and up to 90MB/s write speed costs less than RM128 – which means it’s cheaper than RM1 per gigabyte. You can opt for slower microSD cards for even cheaper price too.

This TEAMGROUP GO Card UHS-I U3 MicroSD card can actually go up to 90MB/s sequential read speed and 45MB/s sequential write speed.

Is NM card going to be the future?

Maybe not. The ubiquity of SD cards and microSD is dominating the market – ranging from all sorts of cameras to phones, development kits like Raspberry Pi, game consoles, and many more. Plus, microSD cards can use an adapter and become a full-sized SD card instead.

NM card slot
Only the Mate 20 series of smartphone uses NM card now.

We can’t predict the future of NM cards now, but if the this standard isn’t adopted by other brands in their products, then NM card will be left in obscurity. This is obviously the biggest challenge that Huawei has to overcome if they want NM card to be successful.

If NM card becomes widely accepted, the prices of these cards will be lower as supply has increased.

What about NM card readers? There are none as of now. If your Mate 20 breaks and you have important data inside your NM card, then there’s no way for you to ever retrieve the data. The only way you can access those data again is that you buy another smartphone from the Mate 20 series that uses NM card.

Yes – that means the cheapest NM card reader now is the Mate 20, and it will cost you RM2,799. Ouch.

UPDATE: Huawei is now selling NM card reader too!

Yeah, believe it or not – Huawei actually has NM card readers for sale as well. The price of it though, is quite ridiculous and limited in functionality as well. for RM98, you can read microSD and NM cards. It has both USB-A and USB-C headers, but we cannot confirm if it runs on USB 3.0 speeds since Huawei did not disclose this information.

Huawei NM card reader

Seriously though, RM98 for a card reader? You can get some USB 3.0 card reader that reads multiple types of cards plus USB hubs for a much lower price! Or an even better better combo here!

If you really need the Huawei NM card reader, click here to head over to Lazada to buy now.

We did a little poll – and it seems like many people are still not ready to move away from microSD cards at all.

What do you think? Let us know at our Facebook Page.

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