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February 7, 2018

How to choose the best MicroSD cards for your smartphone or tablet

by John_A

If you run out of storage space on your phone or tablet, then you’ll want to find a way to get more. One of the simplest options is to insert a MicroSD card. Sadly, not all smartphones and tablets support MicroSD cards. If you have an iPhone or iPad, then you’re out of luck, but many Android devices do support them, as do some Windows Phone and BlackBerry handsets.

Check the full specs for your phone on the manufacturer’s website, or look for a MicroSD card slot in your phone. On newer phones, they’re generally part of the SIM tray.

What to consider when buying a MicroSD card

There are a handful of things to consider when you’re choosing a new MicroSD card for your phone. Obviously, the price and capacity are going to feature, but you also need to make sure that the type of card you buy is supported by your device and that it’s suitable for your needs.

SDHC and SDXC

SDHC stands for Secure Digital High Capacity and SDXC stands for Secure Digital Extended Capacity. The only real difference is the range of data they can store. You’ll find that SDHC MicroSD cards range from 2GB to 32GB in size, while SDXC MicroSD cards can range from 32GB up to 2TB in size, though the biggest MicroSD card we’ve seen so far is 512GB.

Class and UHS ratings

The Class rating of a MicroSD card refers to its minimum transfer speed. UHS stands for Ultra High Speed. Here’s how the minimum speeds for different classes break down.

Class
Minimum Speed

2
2 MB/s

4
4 MB/s

6
6 MB/s

8
8 MB/s

10
10 MB/s

UHS 1
10 MB/s

UHS 3
30 MB/s

Most MicroSD cards are a lot faster than the minimum speed. A Class 10 card may offer 95 MB/s, for example, and UHS cards can go up to 312 MB/s.

Application Performance Class

The SD Association launched a new standard last year, called App Performance Class, which is designed to highlight MicroSD cards that are suitable for use in smartphones and tablets. The A1 rating means that the card can manage random read input-output access per second (IOPS) of 1,500 and write IOPS of 500. This is ideal for quickly opening apps and processing tasks. These new A1 cards are worth looking out for if you intend to format your card as internal storage in an Android device, something Google calls “Adoptable Storage.”

How to choose a MicroSD card

You’re obviously going to want the highest speed, highest capacity MicroSD card you can get, for the lowest price. We would advise you to factor in the brand reputation and the reported performance and reliability. Check out the warranty terms, just in case something should go wrong. You also need to be careful where you buy. If you’re going to use Amazon or eBay then read some customer reviews and watch out for fake MicroSD cards, because they’re disappointingly common.

Best MicroSD cards for your smartphone or tablet

We’ve picked out five of the best MicroSD cards for smartphones here, but the right card for you will depend on your device and your needs. You may want to look beyond this list, but we advise you to stick to well-known brands like Samsung, Lexar, SanDisk, Toshiba, and Kingston. All prices are correct at the time of writing, but the MicroSD card market moves fast, so expect them to change.

SanDisk Extreme 32GB ($19)

Here’s a speedy SDHC card that offers read speeds of up to 90 MB/s and write speeds of up to 60 MB/s. This is a durable card with a lifetime warranty, and the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. It will have no trouble with 1080p video and can even handle 4K, though you may want a larger capacity if that’s what you’re buying it for. It also comes with a handy SD adapter.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Samsung Evo+ 64GB ($28)

This SDXC card is rated as Class 10 or UHS-1 and offers transfer speeds of up to 80 MB/s. It’s a durable and reliable MicroSD card with a lot of positive reviews. It’s fast and efficient for use in phones and tablets and won’t have any trouble recording 1080p video, but you should opt for another card if you shoot in 4K. Ultimately, it’s a great all-rounder for a reasonable price.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Lexar Professional 128GB ($100)

If you want a fast MicroSD card with a decent capacity, then consider this option from Lexar. It’s an SDXC card with a UHS-II rating, offering read speeds up to 150 MB/s. The write speeds are a little disappointing at around 45 MB/s, but it can handle 4K video recording.  This is another card with a lot of good reviews and it comes with a handy USB card reader to plug into your PC or laptop.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

SanDisk Ultra 200GB ($74)

You may prefer to opt for SanDisk’s new 256GB A1-rated MicroSD card, but be warned – it will cost you closer to $200. The card we’re recommending here has been out for a while and so the price has dropped significantly. It’s a Class 10 card that offers a whopping 200GB and it’s fast enough for 1080p video recording. Read speeds go up to 90 MB/s, but write speeds are a lot lower, so it’s not a card for recording 4K video. It comes with an SD adapter.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

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