Choosing microSD Cards for All Your Gadgets
No one likes running out of space on their gadgets, especially when it’s a perfect moment for a photo, video, or you just need to download that app and that album from your favorite artist not tomorrow, not in a week but right now. Because it’s important. And that’s exactly when the storage tends to end, usually. One of the laws of the Universe, probably. Or a manifestation of Murphy’s Law. Whatever. The important thing is that it is always good to be prepared for a situation like this, which means your gadgets need additional memory cards.
SD cards have been with us for quite a time, getting larger and larger in capacity yet smaller and smaller in size—for smartphones that are getting thinner and thinner with each passing year. Now we have microSD cards, tiny things with volumes of a full-sized external hard drive. And today, when you look for a microSD card, if you are not a techie, chances are you go with the largest storage you can afford without checking all the parameters. If you don’t, we bow to you. Many people, though, forego most specs and later find out that the card fails to deliver the promised performance.
The thing is, like most tech, different microSD cards are designed to fit different needs and different gadgets, therefore, there are things to check before you buy.
What’s the Difference in microSD Cards?
There’s actually quite a lot besides the volume. Here are some designations you may or may not find on the card packaging, explained.
|Parameters to consider||Description|
|TYPE||Basically, microSD cards are the same old SD cards made smaller in size so they usually bear the same designations. There are three main types of these cards and they differ in storage capacity (the very parameter everyone looks at when choosing):
However, before you buy the biggest one, you need to check your gadget’s limits. There is a difference in physical construction that makes these cards only forward-compatible, not backwards. This means that, while you can put a microSD into your microSDXC-compatible smartphone, the gadget that only supports up to, say, 16GB cards in most cases will simply reject a SDXC card.
|SPEED CLASS||Speed class is the basic speed at which the card can write data. This parameter is important if you plan on frequently transferring files to and from your gadget as well as for shooting high-resolution video. There are several types of speed classes: the original “C” class, the faster UHS speed class for the cards with UHS bus (basically, any cards released after 2009), and the latest Video speed class geared towards use in the action cameras and hi-end smartphones able to shoot HD, Full HD, and even 4K video.
|UHS SPEED CLASS||
|VIDEO SPEED CLASS||These may or may not be present, if not refer to the “C” class: for video, C2 is okay for SD recording, C4 and C6 for HD, and C10 for Full HD and HD Still Consecutive Recording. The cards where the “V” class is mentioned are all good for at least HD shooting.
|UHS BUS INTERFACE||The UHS bus interface has faster bus speed that allows for faster data transfer and it is only included in microSDHC and microSDXC cards but not in simpler and older microSD ones. Therefore, if you see a card without a UHS-I or UHS-II label that states high transfer speeds, beware, it might be counterfeit.
UHS-I has a bus speed of 104MB/s and UHS-II — 312MB/s.
|APPLICATION PERFORMANCE CLASS||This is a label important for those intending to use a microSD card as an “Adaptable Storage”, a feature offered by some Android gadgets manufacturers (not all, though, devices from Samsung and some other brands can only be hacked into allowing this) to combine the often limited internal storage with SD cards that are larger in capacity. With this, you will be able to not only store files on a microSD card but install apps onto it.
A microSD card that is not approved by the SD Association for this task can also work but chances are they will fail pretty soon and this can result in loss of data as well as in need to factory reset your phone or tablet while approved cards tend to live longer if treated properly.
There are two classes of App Performance today:
The minimum sustained sequential performance for both classes is 10MB/s. App Performance classes are only applicable to SDHC and SDXC cards.
|RATED AND RELATIVE SPEED||Both Rated and Relative speed performances show approximate maximum read/write speed the card is capable of, according to the manufacturer. When it comes to speed classes described above, they show the minimum speed, which means that technically, a C2 card can be faster than C10, though this rarely happens. That’s why max speed can also come in handy. However, do keep in mind that these speeds indicate perfect conditions that may be within no reach on some gadgets.
The Rated speed is usually shown in MB/s while Relative speed is the speed compared to that of burning a CD disc (150KB/s) and is shown with a number and an “x” for how many times faster it is than 150KB/s.
|WARRANTY||This one is self-explanatory. Brands offering the most reliable microSD cards are usually ready to backup their claims with good warranties and customer service so it is sensible to buy from them.|
In the end, it all comes down to what you need a micro SD card for. If it is simple storage of files without the need for frequent transfer you need to consider storage capacity and compatibility with your smartphone or tablet, whereas to shoot video with comfort or watch movies stored on the card, speed ratings are very important, and the higher definition of the video the higher speed you’ll need. Think about this all before you make your purchase, and don’t forget to check the parameters of the devices you intend to use the card with.
So, here we go.
The Best 10 microSD Cards in 2018
|MODEL||TYPE||“C” SPEED CLASS||UHS SPEED CLASS||“V” SPEED CLASS||UHS BUS MODE||APP PERFORMANCE||RATED SPEED||WARRANTY|
|Samsung EVO Plus 128GB||SDXC||C10||U3||n/a||UHS-I||n/a||100MB/s Read
|10 years limited|
|Transcend High Endurance 32GB||SDHC||C10||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||21 MB/s Read
20 MB/s Write
|2 years limited|
|SanDisk Extreme PLUS 128GB||SDXC||C10||U3||V30||UHS-I||A1||100MB/s Read
|Kingston Digital 64GB||SDXC||C10||U1||n/a||UHS-I||n/a||45MB/s Read
|Verbatim 64GB Pro+||SDXC||C10||U3||n/a||UHS-I||n/a||90MB/s Read
|PNY Turbo Performance 64GB||SDXC||C10||U1||n/a||UHS-I||n/a||90MB/s Read
|Lexar Professional 633 x 32GB||SDHC||C10||U1||n/a||UHS-I||n/a||95MB/s Read
|Kingston Digital 32 GB||SDHC||C4||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||45MB/s Read
|SanDisk Ultra 64GB||SDXC||C10||U1||n/a||UHS-I||A1||100MB/s Read||Lifetime limited|
|Integral UltimaPro 32GB||SDHC||C10||U1||n/a||UHS-I||n/a||45MB/s Read||5 years limited|
Samsung EVO Plus 128GB
As most things the South Korean conglomerate makes, this is a top-shelf product. It is one of the fastest microSD cards on the market with its rated 100MB/s reading and 90MB/s writing speed. A speed like that allows using this card practically in any device and for almost any purpose, from simple storage to shooting 4K video. Seeing that this card has 128GB of storage space, you can say it is of a microSDXC type. And whereas absolute most good cards come with C10 speed class rating, the U3 UHS speed class is not that common but here, it is present. It means that the card’s minimum speed is 30MB/s, as opposed to the U1’s 10MB/s (not a bad rating by any means but still).
The Samsung EVO Plus has no App Performance sign anywhere on it though it does not mean you can’t use it as your main app storage—with the speeds it offers, chances are your apps will be flying. Though if you are planning to plug this card to expand your Samsung smartphone’s storage (you know, the same company is always the best choice when it comes to compatibility) do keep in mind before you make the purchase that Samsung has this feature disabled in their gadgets for the purpose of saving their customers’ data from accidental destruction, an issue appearing when your microSD card acting as internal storage is unplugged for any reason. You can tap into the phone if you are a developer or just feel confident enough you can do it right but we recommend you to stick to storing your data on the card and leave the apps with the internal storage.
When you are looking for a 128GB microSD card or one close to it in the amount of storage space, we assume you are into making hi-res photos and videos since these are what usually take the most space. Despite the lack of the “V” speed class rating, this card’s minimum and maximum speeds allow comfortable shooting of 4K Ultra HD without lagging. And 128GB space is enough to store up to 6 hours of 4K content.
The Samsung EVO Plus series protects your data from just about anything that is out of your own control. This microSD card for mobile phones can endure seawater, X-rays, strong magnetic fields, and both high and low temperatures, making this tiny thing a great choice for travelers and wilderness-lovers: it will live through the airport scanning, African desert, and Amazon basin forests. Its working temperature is between -25°C and +80°C (-13°F to +176°F) and if you come to find yourself in, say, Alaska in winter, the non-operational temperature at which this card still lives to keep your data intact is up to -40°F. Finally, Samsung backs this card up with a 10-year warranty.
Smartphones and tablets that allow shooting high-resolution photo and video.
Transcend High Endurance 32GB
Transcend is a company well-known specifically for their memory cards, flash drives, and other similar devices.
If you are looking for something that is affordable yet high-quality, Transcend High Endurance is one of the obvious choices. It is pretty basic and has little to no hi-end features like Video speed class or App performance certification but it can still handle recording Full HD video without any problems. The 32GB model can hold up to 6,000 hours of Full HD 1080p movies.
This microSD card is C10 speed class, meaning the lowest transfer speed it offers is 10MB/s, the highest among the “C” speed classes. However, the manufacturer states that the highest rated reading speed is 21MB/s and rated writing speed is 20MB/s, not the fastest on the market. This means that transferring the 6,000 hours of video mentioned above will take a bit of time and you might need to consider that time is also needed between taking hi-res shots so maybe it is not the best option for a smartphone video shooting. Actually, this memory card was mostly designed for use in surveillance, for example, with IP and security cameras at your home, video registrator in your car, things like that. For these, the Transcend High Endurance is virtually perfect thanks to its durability and ability to record video for long hours on end without strain.
Transcend claims this card has undergone severe testing and operates in conditions of extreme temperatures, is waterproof, and can endure X-rays and magnetic fields as well as falls. It also features a built-in ECC (Error Correction Code) which will recognize it if an error occurs during a file transfer and will correct it on the fly. It is a highly valuable feature when it comes to surveillance since in cases like breaking and entering or car accidents the recordings from cameras become irreplaceable evidence. With this, this is probably the most reliable microSD card for these types of purposes.
Car and home surveillance cameras.
SanDisk Extreme PLUS 128GB
SanDisk is one of those companies that take to development with exceptional devotion. Whereas most manufacturers of microSD cards for tablet and mobile usually go for the most crucial parameters check (“C” and “UHS” speed classes and rated speed) and stop there, SanDisk tests their products for compliance with every certification you might need, most of their cards have both the “V” speed class designation and the App Performance marking. The SanDisk Extreme PLUS does, of course, have them all as well.
This is a microSD card capable of everything a microSD card is supposed to be capable of and then some more. It is a C10 speed class card, that is a given, most of today’s models are C10-compliant, but where other top-shelf cards come with the U1 class this one offers you a U3, meaning that its minimum transfer speed is 30MB/s, three times the U1. Then it gets better. The SanDisk Extreme PLUS microSDXC card has a V30 mark, meaning it can record video and save it at 30MB/s, same speed as saving simple data and photos. It is not the highest “V” speed class, that would be V90, but we’d like to point out that all speed classes are the minimum speed offered by the device. And the rated maximum speed here is 100MB/s for reading and 90MB/s for writing, making it one of the fastest microSD cards on the market today. That is enough to shoot high-speed movement in 4K without a glitch. Therefore, it is a good SD card for GoPro and other action cameras. It is not a cheap memory card but for these tasks, it is worth every penny since there is little to no options to beat it in performance.
This card was also tested for app performance and has an A1 stamp. Though the A2 class already exists, it is a new thing and we are yet to see a microSD card compliant with it, same as a card with a UHS-III bus. Right now, the A1 app performance is the best you get if you wish to use a microSD as your main app storage space.
As a cherry on the top, SanDisk offers a limited lifetime warranty for their cards. The company stands behind their products, completely sure in their reliability and quality.
Action cameras, laptops, smartphones, tablets.
Kingston Digital 64GB
The Kingston company is a famous manufacturer of all things digital memory, from flash drives to DIMMs and solid-state drives. And, of course, microSD cards as well.
The Kingston Digital 64GB micro SD card is a Class 10 / U1 product with a UHS-I bus interface, meaning its minimum speed is 10MB/s. The maximum, according to the manufacturer, is 45MB/s for reading and the same 10MB/s for writing. The writing speed is nothing to write home about so 4K video is probably out of the question but 1080p Full HD is possible still. Well, it’s not like a 64GB of storage space can really hold a nice long raw 4K video of you mountain-biking with your friends anyway. But for photos, motion photos, and clips of your children’s birthday parties, a graduation ceremony, or some home and family events, it is more than enough.
Kingston is well-known to be a developer of the most reliable microSD cards and other tech. This card in particular has been tested and declared shockproof, waterproof, resistant to vibrations and high/low temperatures as well as X-rays. You need not worry about losing your data with this card.
One of the reasons they can be this good is the company’s famous treatment of their employees. A holder of the “Excellence in Fairness” award and a member of the Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list from 1998 to 2002, Kingston cares for their workers all around the world, thus earning their trust and dedication to their jobs and the company image. Thanks to this and the overall responsible conduct of business, Kingston is assured in their products quality and offers a lifetime warranty for this microSD card.
Smartphones, tablets, HD photo cameras.
Verbatim 64GB Pro+
A part of Mitsubishi Chemical, Verbatim is a brand best known for their optical disks but their memory cards also deserve some attention. They are really durable, able to withstand water, a wide range of temperatures, and drops well enough to be backed up with a lifetime limited warranty from the company.
Besides that, the Verbatim Pro+ microSD card for mobile phone and tablet is a high-speed microSD card, it offers 90MB/s reading and 80MB/s writing speed, the numbers high enough to shoot 4K video, if your smartphone allows that; it does make a good SD card for GoPro action camera, too. However, with 64GB storage space, you will probably need to transfer the files to your computer every couple hours if you do shoot 4K and with a good bitrate since files like that take up quite a bit of space. The card is not too expensive, though, so you can purchase several and switch between them when you run out of space.
The card features a UHS-I bus interface and a U3 speed class that provides it with minimum speed of 30MB/s for any action. The card comes with a microSD to SD adapter suitable for photo and video cameras as well as faster transfer to a PC, if yours has a direct SD card reader. All things considered, the Verbatim 64GB Pro+ high-speed microSD card is a solid option for most memory card needs.
Action cameras, smartphones, tablets.
PNY Turbo Performance 64GB
PNY is a private company originally from Brooklyn with current headquarters in New Jersey. The company is relatively small, with a little more than 500 employees developing and manufacturing a wide range of products from solid-state drives and SD cards to NVIDIA GeForce and Quadro Graphics Cards. Which is kind of impressive, really. The 1-year warranty for the microSD card is less so, though.
The PNY Turbo Performance is, well, fairly turbo. Not the fastest out there but not even close to slow either. A UHS-I bus interface provides it with a U1 speed class minimum speed of 10MB/s and the rated speed for the card is 90MB/s for reading and 40MB/s for writing. You can use this microSD card with an action camera as well as smartphone or tablet, it is water- and shockproof, resistant to magnetic interferences, and can survive high/low temperatures. However, shooting 4K will be a little challenging so we do recommend leaving it at HD or maybe Full HD.
The 64GB is enough to store nearly 15 hours of HD video with standard settings, though at 30fps, this amount will decrease as the space runs out faster since the 30fps movies take up more storage.
Smartphones, photo cameras, tablets.
Lexar Professional 633x 32GB
Lexar Professional is a high-speed microSD card for tablets and mobile phones. It is offered in a wide range of storage options, the 32GB one being a microSDHC with rated reading speed of 95MB/s. This is quite fast, transferring files and playing movies will be a very pleasant experience. The writing speed of 20MB/s is less impressive but it does allow you to comfortably shoot video of your own in HD quality; for 4K, you will need either a 256GB or a 512GB option, though. The C10 and U1 (courtesy of a UHS-I bus interface) speed classes ensure that your microSD card speed won’t fall below 10MB/s, which is a good thing.
There is a unique feature to the Lexar Professional microSD card for mobile phones. Having purchased it, you will have the opportunity to get the Image Rescue software for free, forever (as in, a lifetime copy). This software can recover your files from a corrupted card or find the remnants of already erased photos and recover them too. It is an irreplaceable piece of soft for anyone dealing with digital memory devices.
Lexar has their own testing labs to ensure their products are compatible with most gadgets, durable, and reliable, and the company’s certainty in the labs’ performance is supported by the lifetime limited warranty.
Photo cameras, smartphones.
Kingston Digital 32GB
This one is the Kingston’s entry-level microSD card for mobile phones. It is a C4 speed class, meaning the minimum speed it offers is 4MB/s, which is rather low. However, the rated maximum speed is fairly good for a memory card, it is 45MB/s reading and 10MB/s writing. We’d say it is pretty standard for a budget option, even.
This Kingston Digital is one of the very few SDHC cards that have no issues with Roku media players so if you are looking for a memory card with this particular player in mind, you can stop right here. At the same time, it is by no means the limit, Kingston Digital 32GB works perfectly with smartphones, tablets, camcorders, and all other devices, its compatibility is superb.
The card is offered with either 4GB, 8GB, or this 32GB storage capacity and is supported by Kingston’s lifetime warranty and free live tech support.
Streaming media players, camcorders, mobile phones.
SanDisk Ultra 64GB
This microSD card is one of the most convenient options when it comes to expanding your smartphone or tablet internal storage. It has passed the App Performance testing and bears the A1 marking that shows you can install and run apps from this card and it will not die of overexertion. And with the rated speed of up to 100MB/s, said app will be running exceptionally smooth and flawless. This is, in fact, one of the fastest microSD cards on the market.
SanDisk also offers a special app to go with their memory cards. The SanDisk Memory Zone App will make file management on your phone and card a cakewalk.
The card is available in a range of storage space options: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 200GB, 256GB, and 400GB. This wide selection allows you to carefully consider what you need a microSD card for and make a purchase based on those needs. If you aim for a microSD card for tablet or phone to expand internal storage, then a 16GB or 32GB card is usually enough; the same space options are the most popular among even the most demanding music lovers. For movies storage it is either 32GB or 64GB. More space is needed to shoot and store 4K videos.
SanDisk is a manufacturer of the most reliable microSD cards available today, they are protected against shocks, extreme temperatures, water, and X-rays and supported by a lifetime limited warranty. You can be certain that your data will survive just about anything.
Integral UltimaPro 32GB
The UltimaPro micro SD card from the Integral company is an affordable middle-class memory card. The manufacturer company is not as famous as some names on this list but they do offer fairly high-speed microSD cards. This particular card is C10 and U1 speed class card with a UHS-I bus and its maximum rated transfer speed is 45MB/s, a solid number that satisfies most users who are looking to only expand storage on their gadgets and not to shoot 4K reality-shows at home. A speed like this is, generally, able to handle video recording, and at a decent level at that: HD resolution is absolutely possible.
The 32GB of space is the most popular option bought for smartphones to store music, photos, and short clips. This card is perfect for that. It is also designed for perfect compatibility with digital SLR cameras, making it an affordable option for hobbyist photographers who do not need the space required by RAW photos but wish to have some backup to not run out of space when the butterfly sits on the flower petal and it is the perfect moment for a shot.
Smartphones to expand storage space, digital SLR cameras, HD camcorders.
All kinds of people today need additional digital storage at hand. Our reasons vary, as do our needs and financial standings. Planning a vacation in the wild and want to preserve memories? An avid extreme sports lover with Guinness Records ambitions? A professional photographer? Simply a person who needs their music with them but no space on the phone? There is a microSD card for anyone. We hope we’ve covered most options and you will find the model perfectly suited for you.