If you’ve got an audio player, smartphone, or action camera, you’re going to need a Micro SD Card. And you’ve got quite a few choices: storage sizes that range from 64 GB to 128 GB to 400 GB, as well as the formats SD, SDHC, and SDXC.
Here, we’ll introduce the basics of SD cards and talk about how to choose one. We’ll look at speed ratings, cost performance, and additional support, then talk about 10 great SD cards you might want to look into.
The Basics of Micro SD Cards
You’re looking through a shelf of micro SD cards, and you’re beset by computer terminology, jargon left and right. Leaves you pretty clueless on what to buy, right? Let’s go through the basics.
The Simplest: Cost
Money is something we all understand. Micro SD cards start off at around $10 and end up in the $100 range.
What makes for the difference in cost? Mainly, data storage size and data reading/writing speed. Then you’ve got the location of the manufacturer (whether it was made in the good old USA, or not). Of course, expensive things are not always better; it all depends on your situation, and what you intend to use the micro SD card for. So figure out exactly what you need, and you might be able to scrape up a few nickels and dimes.
Micro SD Card Specifications
Next, we move into the technical specifications of micro SD cards.
SD, SDHC and SDXC. What’s the Difference?
When it comes to micro SD cards, you’ve got 3 main formats: SD, SDHC and SDXC. The main difference between them? Data size. SDXC is the largest, followed by SDHC, then SD. SD cards usually go up to about 2 GB, SDHCs range from 4-32 GB, and SDXCs will hit 64 GB or more.
Class Tells You The Minimum Data Reading/Writing Speed
You want a fast card, you look at class. Class tells you the minimum speed at which your card’ll write.
There’s two speed classes: the “SD speed class” and the “UHS speed class.” The UHS speed class was newly introduced in 2010 and is much faster than the SD speed class. (Makes sense, as it stands for Ultra High Speed.” If you want to utilize this ultra high speed, though, you need a device with UHS interface; otherwise, you’ll be bumped back down to your SD speed class.
The SD speed class has four categories:
The UHS speed class has two:
The higher the number, the higher the data reading/writing speed.
Maximum Data Transfer Speed
So we know the minimum speed. You can also find out the maximum speed of data transfer.
You’ll see it displayed as “x MB/S,” where x is any given number and MB/S is megabytes per second.
How to choose Micro SD cards – Buying Guide
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s go over to how to choose the perfect micro SD card. We’re going to dive in deep, covering aspects such as durability and compatibility.
Is It Compatible with Your Gadget?
SD cards have always been in cameras and computers. Now, they’re infiltrating into smartphones and gaming consoles. (Nintendo Switch, anyone?) The type of memory card you need will depend on the kind of gadget you’re using. And as our phones get fancier and fancier, SD cards are expanding to take in more and more data. Most devices are compatible with SDXC cards. But if you’ve got something that was made before 2010, then it’ll probably take only SD or SDHC.
It’d be rather devastating to come bounding home with a new SDXC card, only to find out your device won’t take it, so check for compatibility before purchasing. The letters SDHC or SDXC should be written somewhere on the device. But if you can’t find them, refer to the instruction manual.
How Much Storage Do I Need? Take Your Smartphone, for Example
Now, let’s talk storage space. Let’s say you’re planning to load your smartphone with photos, videos, and music.
For photos (if each photo is 14 megapixels), you’re going to need:
- 2 GB – about 340 photos
- 32 GB – about 5,400 photos
- 64 GB – about 10,900 photos
For videos (if video is in full HD), you’re going to need:
- 2 GB – about 20 minutes
- 32 GB – about 5 hours
- 64 GB – about 10 hours
For music, you’re going to need:
- 2 GB – about 510 songs
- 32 GB – about 8,200 songs
- 64 GB – about 16,400 songs
By the way, smartphone apps will take up anywhere between 100 MB to 2 GB. A movie will eat up at least 1 GB. If you only take photographs, 32 GB is more than enough; however–let’s be real–we expect way more from our smartphones. 64 GB is your safest bet.
Memory Size Continued. Let’s Talk about Other Devices
So, you’re not planning to get the micro SD for your phone. In that case, how much memory do you need, exactly? Generally speaking, you need to know what sort of device you’ll be using the card for, and how much space you need to store the stuff you have on it now, and how much more stuff you plan to store in the future.
If you’re shopping around for your Nintendo Switch, for example, you’ll need to know how much space software updates and apps take up. Then, figure out how many games you intend on playing, and just how much extra storage you’ll need for save files and checkpoints.
Final verdict? Most gamers’ll probably need 128 GB or more. If you like to take pictures and videos in high resolution, and don’t bother uploading them onto your computer, you definitely will need something larger than 64 GB.
So sit down, figure out why you want the card, and do a bit of math. It’ll save you heartache in the long run.
Hate Lag? Check out the Speed Class
Only tech nerds care about speed class, right? Not quite.
Let’s say you’ve just filmed a basketball game. You’re re-watching the footage, and it’s looking a little bit funny with small “stop and go” frames in it. That’s because the data wasn’t written fast enough to keep up with the players’ movements. When you’re sending data from your smartphone to the micro SD card, you want faster transfer speeds.
Speed classes are referred to in MB (megabytes ) per S (second). Class 2 means data’ll be transferred at 2 MB/S and Class 4, at 4 MB/S. For UHS speed classes, U1 means data’ll be transferred at 10 MB/S and U3, at 30 MB/S. Just for reference, you’ll need at least a Class 10 micro SD card for full HD and U3 for 4K videos.
Don’t Forget to See If It’s Waterproof
Ever drop your camera in a puddle, or your smartphone in the toilet? Butterfingers, take heart: your data will remain as long as the micro SD card is fine. If you want to play it safe, you should opt for a waterproof SD card, along with a waterproof smartphone.
If you’ve got a dashcam or outdoor security camera, you may worry about heat and cold resistance. Luckily, SD cards are made to withstand both the heat and cold, with most of them surviving between -25℃ to 85℃ (when in use) and -40℃ to 85℃ (when not in use). There won’t be much difference between different brands, as long as they are consumer grade/commercial grade.
Quality or Affordability?
Micro SD cards vary in price. First and foremost, make sure you’re buying a memory card that’s compatible with your device and has enough memory. Then you’ve got speed class, which you should look at if you’re going to be shooting in burst mood, or taking full HD videos. After you filter out the cards according to your needs, you’ll be left with only a handful of good options.
Generally, the larger the memory and the faster the data transfer speed, the more expensive the card. Just remember that you’re probably going to be using your card quite often and for a long time. Therefore, this time around, let’s prioritize quality over price. It’s an investment.
Top 10 Best Micro SD Cards to Buy Online
Now to recommend 10 micro SD cards–including ones ideal for storing 4K footage. We hope you find something that appeals to you.
10. PNY Elite-X MicroSDHC 32 GB UHS-I U3
Superior Class Performance You’ll Enjoy
If you want to turn your brand new smartphone into a heavy duty photography or videography camera, look no further. The PNY micro SD card’s in the U3 speed class with a read speed of up to 90MB/S. That’s really fast and will let you take shots in burst mode. It can even take 4K or full HD videos.
What’s more, this isn’t limited only to smartphones, but can be used for drones, action cameras, computers, and Android tablets. The fast reading and writing speed makes it so much easier to utilize your smartphone for apps, eBooks, web videos, music, and movies. This card has some serious mouth-watering qualities that you won’t regret.
9. Samsung EVO Plus UHS-I Micro SDXC 64 GB
Affordable and Speedy
The U1 class micro SD card by Samsung is fast. It’s got a storage capacity of 64 GB and is great for taking down full HD videos, photos, as well as songs. In addition, the EVO plus lets you transfer data at a rate of up to 80 MB/S. A 3 GB video, for example, can be transferred to your notepad in just 38 seconds.
What’s more, the card can work with devices that sport either micro SDHC and micro SDXC slots. Furthermore, the card is compatible with cellphones, smartphones, and Android tablets. If you’re looking for a micro SD card that’s fast as lightning and affordable, this is something you want to consider.
8. Sandisk Ultra Micro SDXC UHS-I 64 GB
A Reliable Micro SD Card for your Android Devices
This is ideal if you’re looking for something that’ll reliably store the photos/videos taken on your phone or camera. It’s backed by a 10 year warranty.
This card has a storage capacity of 64 GB with a speed performance of up to 100 MB/S. Moreover, it can be used to record in full HD and handles 4K, no sweat. It was designed for Android-based smartphones and tablets. If you’re not looking for something super high end and haven’t decked your room out in Apple, consider taking this out for a spin.
7. Ancarton MicroSDXC UHS-I 128 GB
A Definite Game Changer
The 128 GB SD card is a game changer–just think of how much you can store. This one by Ancarton is in the U1 speed class and can accommodate HD videos as well as high resolution photographs. What’s more, this is compatible with smartphones, tablets, car navigation systems, driving recorders, and cameras.
Now, let’s talk about the durability. This card is waterproof and temperature resistant. In other words, you won’t need to worry too much when recording your hike up Mount Everest or your trek through the Sahara. It also comes with an adapter that’s going to be useful when you’re using a device that’s not compatible with a micro SD card.
6. Silicon Power MicroSDXC UHS-I 128 GB
Great Performance for Your Nintendo Switch
Looking for something affordable but with a larger memory? You can stuff the Silicon Power memory card with up to 128 GB of data; it’s in the U1 speed class. It’s fast enough to support full HD recording as well as transfer files quickly. If you’re a gamer, you’ll be happy to hear that it’s compatible with the Nintendo Switch.
In addition, it’s also compatible with smartphones, tablets, DSLRs, and HD camcorders. For the outdoorsy types, it’ll handle extreme temperatures, X-rays, and sudden downpours. It’s also backed by a lifetime warranty.
5. SanDisk Extreme PRO microSDXC UHS-I 128GB
Shoot Like a Pro!
This card is extreme, alright. The SanDisk Extreme PRO features 128 GB of memory and has been rated U3, with read speeds of up to 100 MB/S and write speeds of up to 90 MB/S. You can easily transfer big files, shoot high resolution photographs, and 4K videos. In other words, this thing works like a machine gun.
But that’s not all. The card is designed to withstand any type of environment. It’s shock proof, waterproof, and works under extreme temperatures. It also comes with an adapter, which is great if you’re trying to send files through a device that isn’t compatible with micro SD.
4. Lexar High-Performance MicroSDXC 200GB UHS-I
A Whopping 200 GB Storage That Comes With a USB Flash Reader
This Lexar micro SD card can hold up to 200 GB of data. In other words, you can store more than 15 hours of HD video. Now that’s something. Of course, the card is capable of storing not only full-HD videos, but also 3D and 4K videos, as well as high resolution photos. This is great for capturing hours-long videos or a million and two photos in one go.
The card is in the U1 speed class, with a read speed of up to 95 MB/S. Furthermore, this comes with a USB 3.0 flash reader memory card, in case you’ve got devices with only USB slots. In addition, you can use this card for sports camcorders, tablets, and smartphones.
3. Samsung 256 GB MicroSDXC EVO Select UHS-I 256 GB
High-Performance for Serious Users
This high-performance 256 GB memory card by Samsung is quite stunning. A proud member of the U3 speed class, it can read data at speeds as fast as 100 MB/S and write at 90 MB/S. Now that’s something that you don’t find in every card. What’s more, it’s compatible with DSLRs, Android smartphones and tablets, action cameras, and drones.
In addition, the card is backed by a 10 year limited warranty and is waterproof, as well as resistant to extreme temperatures.
2. Sandisk Ultra Micro SDXC UHS-I 400 GB
The Best of Both Worlds
Have you ever dreamed of the ultimate memory card? A card that can store tremendous data, and at the same time has a killer transfer speed? Well, you’ve found one in the Sandisk Ultra, which features a 400 GB memory card and is in the U1 speed class, with a read speed of up to 100 MB/S.
The card is compatible with Android smartphones and tablets as well as mirrorless cameras. In addition, the card is highly durable, waterproof, and temperature-proof. If you want to shoot for a long time–no pauses–in full HD, 3D or 4K , this is the heavy duty memory card you need.
1. Lexar Professional MicroSDXC UHS-II 128 GB
An Amazing 150 MB/S Read Speed for Fast Data Transfer
Here’s our A-list celebrity. It’s another member of the exclusive U3 speed class, with a read speed of up to 150 MB/S. You can use this card in sports cameras/camcorders, tablets, smartphones, and other electronic equipment that asks for a lot when it comes to data transfer.
In addition, this card is designed for burst shooting, just in case you’re planning to make a stop-motion film (or are one of those people that likes to take 100 photos of yourself and then choose the best one). It’ll also hold and transfer hours of full HD, 3D, and 4K video footage.
Always Be Sure to Save Your Data
If you’ve gone through the hassle of taking videos and photographs, the last thing you want to do is leave them to pile up–because, one day in the future, you’ll be kicking yourself and wishing you’d tidied them up. Save and store your pictures/videos in folders on your computer or hard disk and label them, so you can find them when you need them.
If you’re planning to move pictures/videos to your computer or other electronic devices, make sure to get a card adapter and reader. Some micro SD cards are sold with adapters, but double-check, just to be sure.
So those were the micro SD cards we’ve tagged as being high quality, high performing, and durable. Now that you’ve mastered the basics of micro SD cards, you’re good to go. Think about what you intend to use them for, and you’ll be fine. We hope that you can find something ideal for you.