We live with time at our heels, always in a hurry and going at the maximum speed possible. In order to live at this rate, we need smaller and lighter devices to make our lives easier. However, by the same token there is also a growing need to store more and more information in smaller and smaller devices.

Enter the microSD. These cards are small flash memory units in which any type of file can be stored. Their versatility stems from the fact that they can be used in many different types of devices. In some smartphones they can even be used as internal memory. Its pliability is such that its possible use and applications keep expanding.

Key Facts

  • These units are very light and versatile. Ideal for an ever compacting world.
  • Their memory capacity has not stopped growing since the first models appeared. However, their price has also consistently decreased since the first models.
  • In some smartphones they can be used as internal memory.
  • Most models today are specially designed to withstand extreme conditions.

Ranking: The best microSD cards on the market

Here’s our ranking of the top five microSD cards available on the market. Each one of them stand out for special reasons. Nonetheless, they all offer excellent value for your money and they are all best sellers from reputable brands. So you can be sure that whichever one you choose will come with a quality guarantee.

No. 1: SanDisk Ultra, MicroSDHC UHS-I (128 GB)

With this type of microSDHC memory, this card is ideal for the latest generation of smartphones and Android tablets. It has a capacity of 128 GB and up to 80 MB/s in transfer speed. Catalogued as Class 10, it allows you to record and play back Full HD video. In addition, it comes with an SD adapter.

This card is built to operate in extreme conditions. It is resistant to water, high temperatures, shocks, X-rays and magnets. It comes with a ten-year warranty and at a truly incredible price. It is no wonder why it’s currently one of the best-selling cards in its category.

No. 2: SanDisk, Ultra MicroSDXC UHS-I (200 GB)

This is a card that offers great value for your money, which has made it a true best seller. It allows reading speeds of up to 100 MB/s and has a storage capacity of 200 GB. It is considered class 10 for the recording and playback of videos in Full HD quality. It comes with a 10-year limited warranty and it is shockproof, temperature-proof, waterproof and X-ray proof.

It is recommended for smartphones and tablets with an Android operating system and MIL cameras. Being category A1, it is optimized for application use, ensuring a much faster start and performance by the applications. This card is also designed to withstand extreme conditions. Lastly, it comes with an SD adapter for computer use.

No. 3: SanDisk, Extreme MicroSDXC (128 GB)

This card boasts fast transfer speeds with great performance reviews for both applications and videos. It offers reading speeds of up to 160 MB/s and writing speeds of up to 90 MB/s. It allows you to record 4K UHD or Full HD videos and take high-resolution photos. It’s perfect for Android devices, action cameras and drones. It also comes with RescurePRO Delux data recovery software.

It is A2 rated for maximum performance for applications. In addition, it offers 4K UHD Compatibility with UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) and Video Speed Class 30 (V30). It is manufactured to operate under especially trying conditions. It offers an unsurpassed level of quality. Unfortunately, in this case high quality does come at a high price.

No. 4: Kingston, SDCS MicroSD Canvas Select (256 GB)

This unit is catalogued as an UHS-I Class 10, it offers read rates of up to 80 MB/s. It has a capacity of 32 GB and it allows you to film and take photos in high definition. Moreover, it is a well prepared card to face truly difficult conditions. This is the perfect card for those on a tight budget.

This Kingston card is resistant to immersion in water for up to 30 minutes, resistant to shock, vibration, and temperatures of up to 85º C. Moreover, it is X-ray-proof and features a handy write-protect switch. This card comes with the quality guaranty offered by Kingston’s reputation in this sector.

No. 5: Samsung, EVO MicroSD (128 GB)

This card is ideal if you don’t need a card with high specifications, but don’t want to give up quality levels – all while being available at a really affordable price. It boasts of up to 100 MB/s read and 90 MB/s write speeds. It is backed by Samsung’s reputation of setting the standard with their products.

The EVO is backed by 4-proof protection and is compatible with virtually all devices on the market. It’s a really tough card as it can withstand up to 72 hours submerged in salt water and be exposed to temperatures ranging from -25º C to 85º C. Don’t forget that like most brands, if you need more or less storage, you can opt for other models in the series with the right capacity.

Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about microSD cards

When looking to acquire a microSD card it is advisable that you take into account a number of aspects. Don’t forget that there are different types of microSD cards, each with specific characteristics and specialized uses. To help you choose the right card for your needs, in this section we address the most frequently asked questions of users.

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MicroSD cards allow you to store large amounts of information in a compact way. (Source: Gstockstudio: 41262256/123rf.com)

What exactly is a microSD card?

The microSD format corresponds to the smallest flash memory available to the general public today. Its dimensions are 15 x 11 x 10 mm. It was developed by SanDisk and later adopted by the SD Card Association. From the beginning it was very well received thanks to the advantages of its small size.

What are the main applications for microSD memory cards?

At present, its main use is in smart mobile phones. They can be used to save files, to store backups and even as an extension of the phone’s internal memory. They are also frequently used in digital cameras.

Thanks to their small size their use is ideal in drone chambers. Another increasingly popular application for this card is as a game console extended memory. For example, they are being used a lot in Nintendo’s latest console, the Nintendo Switch.

Certainly, with their increasing storage capacity, their functions and applications also continue to grow and expand.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using microSD cards?

One of the main advantages of using microSD cards is that they allow a large amount of information to be stored in a very small space. This allows documents and files to be easily transported within them. Moreover, its price is not very high and it keeps decreasing as the technology becomes more accessible.

Nonetheless, it can be considered a disadvantage of microSD cards that they don’t have as much capacity as other devices on the market. In recent years, however, this capacity gap has narrowed considerably. Keep in mind that given their small size, they can easily be lost. So, if you’re a little clueless, you’d better be a little more careful.

What types of microSD cards are there?

First came the original microSD cards with a maximum memory of 2 GB. However, in present day, this model can be considered obsolete. The next generation was the microSDHC cards with a capacity up to 32 GB. And finally, there are microSDXC cards that can store up to 2 TB of content.

  • MicroSD (maximum 2GB)
  • MicroSDHC (maximum 32GB)
  • MicroSDXC (maximum 2TB)

The microSDXCs are classified by classes. Each class indicates the writing speed of the card. Those of class 2 have a speed 2 MB/s, those of class 4 have 4 MB/s and so on. Then there is the UHS class (Ultra High Speed), which has its own classification. Within this class we have subclasses UHS-I, UHS-II and UHS-III.

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It is possible to find microSD cards of well-known brands and of good quality at affordable prices. (Source: Vitthayanukarun: 84805912/123rf.com)

What do the logos on the microSD cards mean?

The logos on the microSD cards offer information about their characteristics. You can take a look at the product to get an idea. Thanks to the logos you will be able to know which devices they are compatible with, what their speed class is and which interface they can work with, and of course, their capacity.

How to use a microSD card?

Using a micro SD is quite simple: just insert the card into the dedicated slot, either in a phone or other device. Then, you have to wait a few seconds until the device recognizes the card. It is always recommended to insert the card in with the equipment turned off. Never try to force the card in a slot and remember to always eject the card safely.

Keep in mind, adapters are available to use microSD cards as if they were a normal size card. There are also USB adapters that make it possible to read them on computers or equipment that don’t have a card reader.

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We recommend that you read the instruction manual to learn the correct use for these cards and thus prolonging their lifespan.

What are the new specifications for cards used for video and applications?

Recently, the SD Card Association added two new variables to the specifications of SD cards. These are the Video Speed Class and the Application Performance Class. The first represents the suitability of the card for recording high quality video. The second indicates how suitable it is for running applications on mobile devices.

The symbols used for the Video Speed Class range from V6 to V90. The speeds, in these cases, range from 6 MB/s of the V6, to 90 MB/s of the V90, with which you can record 8K video.

The Application Performance Class has classes A1 and A2, which indicate how suitable the card is for recording applications or their data.

Who are microSD memory cards recommended for?

These cards are recommended for people who need to expand the memory of their mobile phone or camera. Also for those who want to count on a light and space-saving storage unit. That is the great thing about this tiny technology, anyone can enjoy the multiple benefits and uses they offer.

Advantages
  • Small and light
  • Practical and versatile
  • Moderate price
  • Functional
Disadvantages
  • Small, hence easily lost
  • Limited capacity

What care do microSD cards require?

Like any electronic, microSD cards require a varied range of care. Fortunately, nowadays these little cards are being made very resistant. However, it’s always best to play it safe and keep them away from water.

As a general rule, they should be stored in low humidity environments. It is also best practice to turn off the computer, mobile phone or camera before removing the card to avoid the loss of any data. Alternatively, make use of the safe eject function. Also, when they are not in use, it is advisable to store them in their respective covers so that they don’t bend or break.

Purchase Criteria

Next, we’re going to discuss a number of important criteria you should consider before purchasing a microSD card. This way, you’ll be more likely to make an informed decision and thus more likely to be satisfied after your purchase. After all, we have made this guide because we don’t want you to be disappointed with your purchase a few months in.

  • Intended use
  • Memory capacity
  • Reading and writing speed
  • File format
  • Durability
  • Brand

Intended use

You may need a microSD card for a mobile phone, tablet, eReader, camera, computer or game console. Or even to move information between different devices. Whatever use you’re going to make of it, it will clearly define which type of microSD card you will need.

In general, any of the types will be good for taking photographs. If you’re shooting high quality video however, you’ll want to choose a card that allows it. The same can be said if you want to use it for running and storing applications on a mobile device. There are specific cards for each of these tasks.

For HD videos you need to have a class 4 or higher card and to record in Ultra HD you will need a U3 class or higher.

Memory capacity

A card’s memory capacity is usually measured in gigabytes (GB). As you may already know, not all microSD cards have the same storage capacity. The larger this is, the more information can be saved on the card. However, you must also take into account the maximum capacity supported by the device in which you are going to use it.

Reading and writing speed

The Speed Class of a card is what will indicate the minimum sustained writing speed of a card. This speed is measured in MB/s. However, with the appearance of the SDHC and SDXC models, the SD Association created the new UHS Speed Class. You can see the speeds for each class in the following table.

Class Minimum speed
Class 2 2 MB/s
Class 4 4 MB/s
Class 6 6 MB/s
Class 8 8 MB/s
Class 10 10 MB/s
UHS-I Class 1 (U1) 10 MB/s
UHS-I Class 3 (U3) 30 MB/s
Video Speed Class V60 60 MB/s

When it comes to using the card with your smart phone, reading and writing speed is the single most important factor in determining how smooth and enjoyable the experience will be. For video recording it is necessary to use the higher classes such as the V60. With this card it is possible to record videos in 4K and 8K format.

File format

The format, or file system, is the way in which a memory unit organizes stored content or information. For this reason, to be able to use any type of storage device, it must be formatted. There are several types of formats, some of the most common are: FAT32, NTFS and ExFAT.

It is important that you do not overlook this variable when purchasing a microSD card. Keep in mind that unfortunately, not all devices or computers accept the same types of formats. For example, the new SDXC cards can only work with the exFAT format, supported only by Windows XP SP2.

Durability

This is by no means a minor aspect to consider. The strength of a microSD card is a very important quality to keep in mind. Nothing is more frustrating than losing information stored on a memory device. Particularly if the information is important or irreplaceable and we do not have the corresponding backup.

The best brands are known for offering very solid microSD card technology. Most cards are prepared to withstand shock, resist the effects of magnetic forces and X-rays. Some can even withstand long periods of immersion in water without damage. The truth is that accidents do happen and thus we should always be prepared.

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High-end cards can reach prices of around 200 dollars. (Source: Datskyi: 84700480/123rf.com)

Brand

Choosing the brand is one of the most important decisions when making a purchase. The brand of a product is closely related to quality, warranty and price. Some of the most important manufacturers of microSD cards are: SanDisk, Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung and Kingston.

A good manufacturer assures you that the card’s specifications are exact and that the card’s operation is correct. Similarly, when purchasing a microSD, make sure it is not a fake replica. Counterfeit cards of some of the most recognized brands circulate in the market unnoticed.

Summary

The uses for microSD cards have expanded considerably in recent years. This is due to the growing demand for greater storage capacity of mobile phones and other devices. Another important factor in its booming growth is the continuously higher image recording quality of digital cameras today.

Moreover, their capacity has increased rapidly and considerably and with it new models have emerged. So, if you’re thinking about buying a microSD, it’s important to consider a number of variables. Remember that among other features you must first consider it’s intended use, this will help you determine what capacity and recording speed you will need. The price of the card will of course be determined by the relationship between these variables.

We hope you found this guide useful. If so, we’d appreciate it if you’d share it with your friends. Either way, we’d love it if you left us a comment with your thoughts.

(Featured image source: Pontchour: 64068821/123rf.com)

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