The 10 Best Micro SD Cards
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in March of 2015. A capable storage system is an important addition to any mobile device. One of these micro SD cards can provide you with the performance needed to get the most out of today's technology, from transferring data quickly to capturing photos, video, and audio on your smartphone, digital camera or tablet. Here are the top choices based on recording, app loading speeds, and affordability. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best micro sd card on Amazon.
May 31, 2019:
Smartphones and tablets usually leave a little to be desired on the storage front, but as long as you're not using an Apple product, that's generally quite easy to overcome with a good micro SD card. There are two levels of performance to be aware of. Sequential throughput measures how fast the card works with large files in continuous blocks, while random read and write speeds are far more relevant to mobile devices. You'll notice SanDisk has a lot of models on our list; believe it or not, they're all slightly different, and most of them offer fantastic random read/write, making them all great choices for expanding smartphone storage. The Extreme A2 is particularly interesting because it's the first with a 1-terabyte version, though even if you are able to get your hands on one, it'll cost you quite a bit. The Extreme A2, while not offered in as large of sizes, shows the best promise for app loading in real-world benchmarks.
If you need a card for use in your top-of-the-line camera, you might want to consider a UHS-II model. This is an advanced bus that uses two rows of pins rather than one. There aren't any phones as of this writing that utilize this two-row system, but it is backward-compatible with UHS-I. If you want to guarantee the best large-file performance, get the Lexar Professional 1800x. It truly can't be beat and will definitely suffice even if you're recording 8K video. Lexar's other models are also quick, but they don't leverage the most advanced bus; they are, however, considerably more affordable. And you really can't go wrong with Samsung, because they're largely considered to be the most reliable producer of flash memory in the world, and their various high-speed options are available at decent prices and in large capacities.
Enter the World of SD
Contrary to belief, the physical size of the card does not correlate with the capacity.
Strap yourselves in ladies and gentlemen, and keep your hands and feet inside at all times. We are about to embark on a wild ride down memory format lane, and it gets quite dense.
SD, also known as Secure Digital, was jointly created by tech giants Panasonic, Toshiba, and SanDisk as a way to improve upon the existing portable memory card formats. It quickly beat out rivals CompactFlash and MMC to become the current industry standard for memory card formats. Since its introduction in 1999, SD cards have evolved to cover a large variety of formats. They are classified in many ways: specifications, size, capacity, and speed class.
SD cards fall into three specifications: SD, SDHC, or SDXC. SD is the original version and it supports up to 2GB of capacity. Secure Digital High Capacity, or SDHC, is the improved version that holds up to 32GB. Secure Digital eXtended Capacity, or SDXC, boasts the highest capacity of up to 2TB. The latest version of SDXC cards are designed to support 8K video footage as well. While all SD cards are physically identical, SD host devices cannot support later version cards. Nonetheless, earlier versions of SD and SDHC cards can be used in SDXC slots, a concept known as backwards compatibility.
SD cards range in size: SD, miniSD, or microSD. All sizes can be specified as SD, SDHC, and SDXC and both miniSD and microSD cards can, with the aid of an adapter, fit into standard SD slots.
SD cards are also labelled by their capacity. A 4GB card will hold twice as much as a 2GB card. The current capacity standard is 64GB, however, they range from extremely limited (32MB) to extremely large (200GB). Contrary to belief, the physical size of the card does not correlate with the capacity. In fact, most microSD cards hold the largest capacity.
The final distinction is speed class; a rating system used to define how fast data is read or written on SD cards. It can range from Class 2, writing data at 2MB/s, all the way to Video Class 90, writing data at 90MB/s. The latter is optimal for 8K video footage.
Down the Rabbit Hole
SD cards are non-volatile, meaning data is not destroyed when the power source is cut off. This feature makes them a great option for portable electronic devices: camcorders, action cameras, smartphones, and E-books. MicroSD cards have risen to prominence in the world of smartphones due to their small size. Action cameras, such as the GoPro and the drone, are also using microSD cards as the standard memory card format.
This is not ideal, as the application will run slower in most cases from the external memory card.
Some microSD card manufacturers will entice the buyer with additional physical features for the card. Important attributes detail if the card is waterproof, shockproof, or magnetic proof. These features might not tempt every consumer, however, they are worthy for anyone operating a durable camera like a GoPro.
Newer models of microSD cards can run applications as well. The aggravated Android user experiencing limited internal storage on his or her phone can now opt to run some applications off of the microSD card, creating more internal storage. This is not ideal, as the application will run slower in most cases from the external memory card.
Since most laptop computers are now designed to have built-in SD card readers, it's important to secure an adapter for your microSD card. Do not assume it is included with your purchase.
A Brief History of SD Cards
Secure Digital was created in 1999 by the SD Association: a joint account by Panasonic, Toshiba, and SanDisk. It was prompted into creation to correct the technical issues that faced CompactFlash (CF) and MMC; the existing memory card formats on the market. The SD Association vowed to invent a better portable memory card format. By doing so, they created the industry standard.
Obviously the capacity of microSD cards has exponentially increased in the past decade.
In 2000, the SD Association introduced the first version of the SD card. The model offered a mere 32MB of capacity. By today's standards, that limited storage is laughable. Since then, the Sisyphean task of keeping up with today's high resolution televisions and advanced smartphones has led to SDHC and SDXC formats to support the large amount of data.
In 2005, the smartphone world demanded larger memory with a smaller memory card. SD replied with the microSD card, compact enough to fit inside smartphones while holding up to 128MB of capacity. Obviously the capacity of microSD cards has exponentially increased in the past decade. In 2015, a microSD card was released that holds 200GB of data. The numbers will only rise: we don't know how high the glass ceiling will go.
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