After doing all that, I would have to say that it is a defect with the phone itself. If you are still under the one year warranty or have TEC, you can get it exchanged for free, just call tech support and tell them all the steps you have taken to solve the problem.
Thanks for your response, I had a feeling it was the hardware. Yeah, it's past the warranty, but can't get a discount on a new phone until March...
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I'm sure if you just remove the SD card, you can use the phone without. I don't see any reason it wouldn't work, depending on internal storage available.
Unfortunately, some important things will not function without an SD card. My preferred keyboard app and voice output engine require an SD card. Some games too.
The most significant problem is that the current version of the firmware requires an SD card to use the camera, even though it's not an Android requirement. Alas, I've been informed that discussion of attempts to remedy that are verboten here.
I suspect that other apps will run into trouble, but those are the big ones I've found so far.
You are right on all counts, most new phones have internal internal storage, some don't even have an SD card slot. My Rezound has 16 GB internal storage, and would work fine without an SD card. I wasn't sure if the DInc 2 was similar.