Are you thinking about putting your microSD card in another phone, and are wondering what will happen?

Although SD cards are a convenient way to move files between phones quickly, they can also pose a security risk if you’re not careful.

So, in this article I’ll be covering what happens when you move your SD card between phones, how to keep your files safe, as well as whether or not viruses / malware can transfer between phones this way.

Let’s get to it!

What Happens If I Put My microSD Card In Another Phone?

SD And Micro SD Card
SD And Micro SD Card

If you place your SD card in another phone, the files will become available on the new phone, and no longer be available on the old one unless a backup copy has been made.

Therefore, this is a great way to transfer files between phones very quickly, even if do not wish to keep them permanently on the SD card!

For example, you could place the files you want to transfer on the SD card, put it into the new phone, then transfer the files from the SD card to that phone’s internal storage.

Keep in mind however that once an SD card has been placed to a new phone, all files stored on the SD card will be viewable on the new phone.

That being said, your old phone will still contain all the files and apps stored on the phone’s internal storage itself.

This means that your old phone will not lose any functionality, even if the SD card is removed completely.

What If My SD Card Is Encrypted?

Android gives you the ability to encrypt your SD card, in order to help protect the data on it.

So, is there anything different about transferring an encrypted SD card to another phone, vs. transferring an unencrypted one?

It turns out, there is!

For better or worse, encrypted SD cards cannot be used or transferred to another phone, without decrypting it first.

This is because the whole point of encrypting your SD card is to prevent people from simply taking it out of your phone, and putting it in there’s – viewing your private files without you realizing it.

Thankfully, decrypting your phone’s SD card is simple, and I’ll share a tutorial for it in the next section.

Encryption Is A Good Idea, Regardless

While encryption can sound like a bit of a hassle – especially if you transfer your SD card regularly, it is generally worth it!

This is because it is the only real way to keep your SD card secure.

If your microSD card is left in your device unencrypted, anybody can simply take it out of your phone, and place it into theirs.

Once they do, they’ll be able to view all the files on the SD card, without anything stopping them. Because the SD card is in their phone, they can essentially bypass the lock screen / passcode requirements they’d normally need to view your files, which makes an unencrypted SD card a huge security risk.

You can learn how to encrypt and decrypt an SD card on Android by following this tutorial:

If you plan on transferring files between phones regularly, you may consider purchasing an extra SD card, to use for the sole purpose of transferring.

This way, you could leave that one unencrypted, transfer the files you need onto it, and then remove the files when you’re done.

Alternatively, Android also supports several options to transfer files between phones wirelessly as well, bypassing the need for an SD card entirely!

Will Anything Happen To The Other Phone?

Now that we’ve talked about the files on your SD card, let’s talk about the phone itself.

Some people believe that if you remove the SD card from your phone, it will no longer work properly. As mentioned earlier however, this isn’t the case.

Your phone’s functionality isn’t tied to your SD card in any way. In fact, many people use Android phones without any SD card in them at all, because they simply do not need the extra storage space.

Other people believe that if you remove the SD card, you’ll lose service – or your cellular service will be transferred over to the new phone instead.

This is also incorrect. While this is exactly what happens if you transfer the SIM card, the SD and SIM cards hold entirely different functions.

You can learn more about the differences between SD and SIM cards by clicking here.

Can Infected SD Cards Transfer Viruses Between Phones?

Finally, let’s talk about another serious issue – viruses and malware.

From the virus creator’s perspective, it’s often their goal to get their viruses onto as many devices as possible. So, it makes sense that they’ll do what they can to move between devices.

This begs an important question – can viruses and malware store themselves on an SD card, and is it possible for phones to get infected if an SD card is transferred?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

Android is not as prone to self-replicating viruses as an OS like Windows is.

However, if the SD card contains malware without you realizing it and someone on the new phone runs it, then it’s possible for the new phone to get infected as well.

So, practice good security, and consider scanning your SD card with an Android antivirus like BitDefender, Norton, Or McAfee before inserting it into a new phone.


As long as the SD card isn’t encrypted, it can be transferred to a new phone without any problems.

This will allow you to view and edit files on the new phone, or transfer them easily should you wish to do so.

If the SD card is encrypted however, it will need to be decrypted before it will work in the new phone.

I hope that you’ve found this article helpful, and that it’s answered your questions.

If you have any other questions about SD cards or Android, please ask them below and I’ll be happy to help.

Wishing you the best,

– James McAllister


About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

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