Modern devices from digital cameras, to smartphones, tablets, music players, laptops and even your Nintendo Switch require storage.
If your device’s integrated storage isn’t adequate to store all your media files like your photos, videos, games, music and more, it probably has a microSD slot to allow you to expand storage to your liking. For this reason, manufacturers now produce microSD cards with more storage capacity and faster data transfer speeds.
If you’re in the market for the best microSD card to buy for your device, you’ll quickly discover that they’re not all created equal. There are different sizes, capacities, speed classes, and even brands to consider.
In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to keep in mind when picking out the right microSD card for your device, some common mistakes to avoid, and the best microSD card options.
Features To Look For When Buying a MicroSD Card
Different microSD cards have different amounts of storage, but the size of the microSD card will depend on how much you need and what you need it for based on your device. Smaller capacity cards tend to fill up quickly compared to larger capacity cards, but you need to check the maximum size your device can support before you run out and buy one with a higher capacity.
That said, you’re better off investing in a handful of the best moderately sized microSD cards instead of one or two high-capacity cards for better organization, protection from damage, and security of the cards.
Besides storage, you want a microSD card that’ll read and write data fast, especially if you’re watching movies, copying data, loading game levels, or capturing video. Check for the sequential speed of the card, which tells you how fast large volumes of data can be read from the card if you’re shooting high-resolution video and photos, or copying media files to it.
The card also needs to be fast at reading and writing data in random locations, which is why the random speed matters, especially if you’re using them for running operating systems, apps/programs, or loading games.
The card’s speed rating system is also important to consider when choosing the best microSD cards as it relates to its transfer speed performance. Unless your device states lower speed class requirements (measured in MB/s) such as class 2, 4 or 6, find a card that’s rated at least Class 10, U1 or U3 as these can write at least 10MB/s and higher of sequential data.
There are faster microSD cards rated V60 or V90 (video speed classes), but these are pricier and require a rare, higher UHS bus speed standard that can shuttle data in both directions at a faster rate.
UHS Bus Speed
Ultra-high speed (UHS) Bus Speed is the measure of how data is transferred between the pins on the microSD card and your device’s connector. There are three versions: UHS I, which moves data up to 104 MB/s, while UHS II and UHS III move data up to 312 MB/s and 624 MB/s respectively.
Some manufacturers list the speed rating and UHS bus speeds on their cards, which is why we’ve separated the two categories so you know what to look for when choosing the best microSD card for your case.
SDHC And SDXC
MicroSD cards can either be Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) or Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), which differ in storage capacity. SDHC are low-capacity microSD cards that offer 4-32 GB, while SDXC offer higher capacities from 64GB up to 2TB. Many devices, especially phones, work with SDXC microSD cards, but fewer devices like mobile consoles can accept SDHC microSD cards only.
Other factors to consider include the card’s warranty, as manufacturers offer a shorter warranty, while others offer 10-year limited or lifetime limited warranties. Plus, check that the microSD card you’re considering is from a reputable brand or seller like Sandisk, Samsung, Kingston, Lexar, Transcend and so on, to avoid buying counterfeit cards. Some cards also claim to be water-proof, shock-proof, x-ray proof, and work in extreme temperatures.
Mistakes People Make When Buying MicroSD Cards
Knowing what to look for when buying a microSD card helps you avoid some common mistakes, which could cost you money. You may also end up with poor performance on a card that doesn’t work at all.
The most common mistakes people make when buying microSD cards are:
1. Buying from a third-party seller on big marketplace sites. These sellers may not be reputable, even if they’re selling through a major retailer. MicroSD cards are often faked. Such counterfeits are slower, don’t have the same advertised capacity, and aren’t warrantied. Buy directly from a reputable seller, such as a brand manufacturer if possible. If buying on Amazon, look for “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com” and select the original packaging.
Always go for big brand microSD cards as they’re more reliable, and offer better performance, warranty, protection against water, shock, extreme temperature and x-rays. Some also offer access to image recovery software as a standard feature.
2. Not checking device compatibility. MicroSD cards aren’t all created equal; there are some that are compatible and suitable for particular devices, while others aren’t. Device compatibility will ensure you get the card that’s suitable and will work with your device. For example, some are designed for Raspberry while others are suited for Android-based gadgets, Nintendo Switch, and so on. Check for a microSD card slot before you buy, or buy a microSD card with an adapter if your device has a full-size SD card slot.
3. Choosing the wrong card for your task. MicroSD cards are designed differently so you need to pick one that matches its intended use. Check the capacity and speed rating/class so that you get one with adequate storage and fast speeds depending on the use case. For example, shooting videos using a digital camera or storing apps and media files on a phone require different microSD cards.
Best MicroSD Cards For 2020
Samsung EVO Plus MicroSD Card
The Samsung Evo Plus microSDXC card offers 128 GB of storage capacity, which supports read and write speeds of up to 100 MB/s and 90 MB/s respectively. You can store 4K and FHD videos, thousands of photos or music and audio files, and use it across several devices.
The Class 10 rated microSD with UHS 3 compatibility is also water, temperature, x-ray and magnet resistant, and comes with a 10 year limited warranty and an SD card adapter. The Evo range also offers one of the largest capacity microSD cards on the market with a massive 512 GB, which can hold up to 78 hours of video, over 75,000 MP3s or over 150,000 photos.
SanDisk 64GB Ultra MicroSDXC
SanDisk is another reputable and popular brand that offers microSD cards in cost-effective capacities, with good speeds and performance. This microSD card is rated UHS I. You can capture, store and transfer your data quickly thanks to its fast read and write speeds of up to 100 MB/s (transfers up to 1200 photos in one minute ) and 60 MB/s respectively.
Plus, you can save a few bucks if you don’t need the larger 128 GB microSD card, and still enjoy using it on your smartphone, tablet, or MIL camera. It has a class 10 speed rating, ideal for Full HD video recording and playback, a memory zone app for easy file management, and it can operate in temperatures of up to 85 degrees Celsius. It’s A1 rated for faster app performance, and comes with an adapter and 10 year limited manufacturer warranty.
3. Lexar Professional 1800x
This is one of the fastest microSD cards on the market. It’s designed for digital photography and video because of its high-speed capture of high-quality images and extended lengths of 4K, 3D and FHD video.
Its high-speed performance leverages UHS III technology for read and write speeds of up to 270 MB/s (1800x) and 250 MB/s respectively. It works well for photographers or videographers using personal or professional recording devices.
The card comes with an SD adapter for easy transfer between your devices so you can get back to capturing the action faster.
Find The Perfect MicroSD Card
We hope you now know what to look for when buying the best microSD card for your situation, and some of the common pitfalls to avoid before making a purchase. Did your favorite microSD card make the list? Sound off in a comment below.