My son has an Android phone, and when he bought it the storage space was divided thus:

System Memory: 157MB

Internal Memory: 1024MB

When this was essentially full we put in an SD card to give him more storage. So now we also have

SD card: 1.84GB

When he fires up something called "App Manager" and clicks on "storage" he sees these three possibilities -- System memory, Internal memory and SD card.

OK now here's the problem. If he downloads an app from the app store, by default it will typically install onto the Internal memory. He wants to put it on the SD card, but the only option available when he tries to move it with his app manager is "Move to phone". If he moves an app to the phone, which presumably is the system memory, then the only option now available is "move to internal memory". Furthermore, try as we might we cannot move any app onto the SD card. Is this expected behaviour? Is there a way of installing apps on his SD card (without rooting the phone, ideally)?

The phone is an LG-E400, running Android version 2.3.6 .

  • It would be helpful to mention the device in question. Assuming e.g. it is a Samsung Galaxy S3, a quote from App 2 SD states why it's not supported there: Galaxy S3 configures the SD card as a secondary external storage. This is configured by Samsung. Nothing developers can do about this. In this case, probably only the availability of root could solve your issue.
    – Izzy
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 15:08
  • OP: Was this from Tesco?
    – t0mm13b
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 15:35
  • It was from Carphone Warehouse Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 15:39
  • @Izzy: I do not understand the quote from App2SD (although the gist seems to be that a related problem, possibly the same one, is unsolvable). Is it the same problem? How might I check? App2SD does not solve the problem for us -- App2SD creates a list of apps which are "installed on SD card" and in fact none of these are installed on the actual SD card, they're all installed on what the phone itself calls "internal memory". Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 15:41
  • Does "only the availability of root could solve your issue" mean "if you root the phone you can solve the problem"? I have been shying away from rooting the phone on the basis that if I brick my son's phone this will cause a lot of problems. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 15:45

3 Answers 3


System memory, internal memory is a mis-leading thing, its actually referring to storage space which is a very different thing to the meaning RAM often referred as memory!

The reference to storage - system as in /system would be more accurate.

When you download an app from the Play Store, it must be installed into the /data.

From there you can actually move the app to the sd-card. On stock vanilla android, the option is there 'Move to SD card'.

Now by the sound of it, its as if it is indeed moving the app to the SDCard, but its not really a SDCard, its how an internal storage space (think of USB flash drives), is treated as an /sdcard but in reality, you have internal and external storage, the latter being the actual micro SD card slotted in place.

Its a bit confusing how it works, from a developer's perspective, when a check is carried out for an SD card, Android seemingly "tells" the developer that the internal storage is treated as an /sdcard.

Also, to compound confusion even more, there's also a symbolic link to the real sdcard, /external/sdcard as well - this bit is dependent on what device/manufacturer is in question.

Yes, this is the expected behaviour, whichever storage (from a view point of Android and the hardware device's file-system priority, is treated as "sdcard").

In short, nothing you can do, apart from using App 2 SD, but then again, that could fall into the same trap as I mentioned previously about the developer's perspective.


After the OP has edited their question to include the device, after looking at GSMArena

MEMORY      Card slot microSD, up to 32GB
Internal    1 GB storage, 384 MB RAM

Yup, it looks definitely like as if the internal storage is treated in this fashion as an "SDCard"...

The naming is misleading. What is really meant, is: internal (phone) storage 157MB, internal SD-Card (eMMC) 1024MB

  • @tomm13b: thanks for following this up. Is the upshot then that it might actually be impossible to install apps on the actual SD card? I am confused as to why one would even want a card slot on the phone if the card itself is inaccessible! Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 15:43
  • @KevinBuzzard the card is accessible for data, so you could keep e.g. your ebook or mp3 collection with you, or use it for backups or other documents. As to your original issue, I guess you're sitting in the same trap as the SGS3 mentioned in my previous comment.
    – Izzy
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 15:46
  • Izzy and t0mm13b: thanks both of you for your clarifying comments. I'm slightly disappointed and surprised that I find myself in this situation; my son seems to have a "hard limit" for the number of apps he can install onto his phone, and he's hit it very quickly. I am now thinking about rooting the phone, but I guess that's another thread. Thanks both of you for the help. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 16:16
  • @KevinBuzzard You are always welcome. Another hint is to check the playstore for App2SD related apps before rooting (if you're afraid of voiding your warranty etc.). There might be a solution not requiring root I am not aware of, as I was not aware of this special problem until today.
    – Izzy
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 16:46
  • @KevinBuzzard I just googled a lot, and found some reports that it should work on your device with an app called "Apps2SD": New apps get installed on internal storage first, but you then can use Apps2SD to move them to SD card. Maybe you try that first?
    – Izzy
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 17:56

I am using the same model LG L3 E400.I have fixed this issue by rooting my phone and installing APP2SD and some other apps are their for moving apps from internal memort to SD memory.

I am currently using custom ROM-- Jellybreard 2 which is a stable one..KUDOSSS

Try rooting and install custom ROM... Happy Rooting... :)


I have the same phone (LG Optimus L3 e400), I have the same problem but I have found some solutions, like the app directory bind which puts yours apps' data to external SD card and make the phone understand it is still on internal memory (the phone executes the apps using a new link made by db).

The other way is to upgrade to Android 4.0.3 with a custom ROMavailable and use an app called "root external 2 internal sd" to do exactly what you look for, for flashing a custom ROM you have to be rooted and take some risks, don't worry if you make an android backup there won't be any problems.

I actually found another possible way which is modifying the vold.fstab (must be rooted) if you try copy the original vold.fstab to the same directory and rename it (voldfstab.backup) if there's a problem just delete the modified file and rename back your original file.

I am a web developer not an android developer so this is the result of a lot of research and experience. Hope I helped you.

  • What custom ROM did you use?
    – Giraldi
    Commented May 25, 2013 at 19:22

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