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Published Mar. 4, 2022

MicroSD cards provide the necessary digital storage for any compatible device. Without them, a drone or digital camera aren’t very useful. Unfortunately, memory cards are often an afterthought purchase. You should be careful to protect your important data and files with quality memory cards. After all, any device is only as good as its weakest component. To make sure that your precious photos, videos, and other data get properly stored, here are seven of the best microSD cards. We have broken down your options by device—cameras, video, or phones—as well as other factors including speed and storage capacity. It may not be the most glamorous purchase you’ll ever make, but it can be one of the most important.

How we selected the best microSD cards

When choosing the best microSD cards, we looked at a number of different factors. The first one we considered was the device itself. Just like anything else, these little chips have specific specs that make a difference when trying to determine their best usage. We also separated our choices depending on how they stacked up in categories such as speed, storage capacity, and a host of others. After deciding how people might use their microSD cards, we collated information based on public and professional consensus as well as our own personal experience to arrive at our final list.

What to consider when shopping for the best microSD card

When beginning your search for the perfect microSD card, you should consider how you plan to use it. Will it be for your new camera? Do you intend to use it to house video, and if so, what video format will you be shooting? If it’s for slotting into an Android phone, you’ll likely want a different card than one for, say, a Nintendo Switch. Or you may be after a card that will work well in a variety of situations. Cards have been designed to work their best in specific use scenarios. It’s best to start your search with these criteria.

Storage capacity

Capacity is usually measured in gigabytes (GB). You’ll typically encounter cards labeled either microSDHC or microSDXC. The difference is related to maximum capacity: microSDHC can hold from 2GB to 32GB while microSDXC spans a storage range from 32GB all the way up to a massive 2TB. 

Speed

Speed class (2, 4, 6, or 10) tells you the minimum write speed in megabytes per second (MB/s). UHS speed class (a number inside a letter U) displays the minimum write speed for UHS (Ultra High Speed) bus speeds. Application Performance Class (denoted with an A) tells you read and write speeds in input and output operations per second. You’ll need to pay attention to this when using Android apps stored on a card. There’s also Video Speed Class (V6, V10, V30, V60, and V90). Higher-resolution video requires higher numbers. 

Cards may also tell you maximum and relative speeds, but those numbers are more of a guide and you shouldn’t expect to hit those numbers in the real world in most circumstances. You typically won’t have a problem with a card that’s too fast unless you’re using an older device that won’t support the card at all. Buy a card that’s too slow, however, and you can run into issues. For instance, your videos could stutter and even stop if you’re trying to shoot with a drone and the card isn’t fast enough to support the high-res footage. 

The best microSD cards: Reviews & Recommendations

Here are the top microSD cards currently available. Most are organized by their intended device or use, such as phone, camera, video, or Nintendo Switch. While it may be tempting to skimp on a memory card, they’re integral to getting the best performance from your device. Just as you wouldn’t buy retread tires for a luxury car, you also don’t want to ruin the performance of an expensive piece of technology with an underpowered card.

Best microSD card overall: SanDisk Extreme 512GB microSDXC UHS-I

SanDisk

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Why it made the cut: This microSD card is fast in a number of categories, making it a great cross-device memory option.

Specs:

  • Read speed: Up to 160MB/s
  • Write speed: Up to 90MB/s
  • UHS Speed Class: U3
  • Application Performance Class: A2

Pros:

  • High-speed
  • Works with 4K UHD video
  • Optimized for smartphone applications

Cons:

  • No bundled card reader

When you don’t have a specific device in mind for a card but want something that will work well in just about anything, you need a microSD with solid specs across the board. In that case, SanDisk’s Extreme 512GB card is the one to get. It’s well-appointed in a number of areas and can do well at just about any task you give it. With a Speed Class rating of C10 plus a UHS Speed Class of 3 (both the highest), as well as a respectable Video Speed Class of V30, it can write 4K UHD video with no frame drop-outs. That’s essential for videographers shooting a lot of action and motion. It’s also specced to keep impatient types happy during transfers with 160MB/s of read speed. 

Finally, for Android smartphone users wanting to expand app storage, its top A2 Application Performance Class marks will ensure speedy loading and performance. This card is compatible with microSDHC, microSDXC, microSDHC UHS-I, and microSDXC UHS-I supporting host devices.

Best microSD card Switch: SanDisk 128GB Nintendo Switch microSDXC Card

SanDisk

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Why it made the cut: This SanDisk card gets the official nod from Nintendo and throws in some impressive read/write numbers to boot.

Specs:

  • Read speed: Up to 100MB/s
  • Write speed: Up to 90MB/s
  • UHS Speed Class: U3
  • Application Performance Class: NA

Pros:

  • Good read and write speeds
  • Warranty
  • Cute Toad graphic

Cons:

  • Can be expensive so shop around

The Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite consoles only offer 32GB of internal storage. With games regularly topping 10GB, not to mention user-generated files like screenshots and video captures, you’re going to need a microSD card to house your game library. For this, we recommend SanDisk’s officially licensed 128GB Nintendo Switch microSDXC card. There’s nothing worse than waiting for a game to load when you’re ready to get down to pixel-busting business, so thankfully SanDisk’s 128GB card can handle up to 100MB/s of read speed. It can write at up to 90MB/s as well, ensuring speedy data transfers. Because this card is officially licensed by Nintendo, it’s covered under a lifetime warranty, something that non-licensed SanDisk cards do not offer. And while it won’t be visible once you slot the card into the device, the Toad icon on its face is a cute bonus.

Best microSD card for 4K video: Samsung Pro Plus + Adapter 256GB microSDXC 256GB

SAMSUNG

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Why it made the cut: Strong across the board, this microSD card particularly excels at video.

Specs:

  • Read speed: Up to 160MB/s
  • Write speed: Up to 120MB/s
  • UHS Speed Class: U3
  • Application Performance Class: A2

Pros:

  • Speedy
  • Physically robust
  • Includes SD adapter

Cons:

  • Video Speed Class could be better

With higher-resolution video comes a need for faster memory cards. Whether you’re shooting on your phone, drone, or dashcam, you want video that is smooth and free from choppiness. For this, we recommend Samsung’s Pro Plus 256GB microSD card. It’s perfect for shooting high-res video, as it’s got the speed where it counts. It’s Class 10 rated, with read speeds up to 160MB/s and write speeds of up to 120MB/s. Ratings like these make it good for photos as well, including shooting bursts of RAW images. It’s got a Video Speed Class of V30, meaning it won’t let you down with dropped frames, and is a good deal given the price. There are faster V60 and V90 cards out there, but they’re likely overkill unless you’re shooting really high-res at high frame rates. It’s attractively equipped for apps too, with an A2 rating ensuring it’ll do your phone right for running Android apps from storage. And good news for those who are particularly active: this card is waterproof, temperature proof up to 85C (185F), X-ray and magnet proof, and drop proof and wear out proof up to 10,000 swipes.

Best microSD card for phone: PNY 1TB PRO Elite Class 10 U3 V30 microSDXC Flash Memory Card

Why it made the cut: Android devices need a memory card with specs to handle app management and a camera. This has it and then some.

Specs:

  • Read speed: Up to 100MB/s
  • Write speed: Up to 90MB/s
  • UHS Speed Class: U3
  • Application Performance Class: A2

Pros:

  • Class 10 speed performance
  • A2 Application Performance Class
  • Includes SD adapter

Cons:

  • Can get warm during heavy use

Phones and similar portable devices can be demanding on storage. They have a still camera, video, apps, and of course data storage. With so many requirements, you need a microSD card that will be able to take it all on, do the job quickly and not break a sweat. With this in mind, we’ve chosen PNY’s 1TB PRO Elite Class microSD card for phone-use applications. First off, a terabyte of storage (which is the largest in this card range) should be more than adequate. For photography and video, it’s rated at Class 10 and V30, with a 90MB/s write speed and 100MB/s read speed. It’s up to the task of most smartphone camera needs and can even go into a drone or action camera if need be. The A2 rating indicates it has a minimum random read speed of 4000IOPS (input and output operations per second) and a random write speed of 2000IOPS—plenty fast. It includes an SD adapter and is magnet-proof, shockproof, temperature-proof, and waterproof.

Largest microSD card: SanDisk Extreme PLUS 1TB microSDXC UHS-I Memory Card

Kingston

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Why it made the cut: SanDisk’s Extreme PLUS 1TB card is fast, durable and big enough for all of your digital life.

Specs:

  • Read speed: Up to 170MB/s
  • Write speed: Up to 90MB/s
  • UHS Speed Class: U3
  • Application Performance Class: A2

Pros:

  • Well-specced
  • Tons of storage
  • Includes SD adapter

Cons:

  • Can be pricey

When the specific device is less of a concern, and instead size is king, SanDisk’s Extreme PRO 1TB card is the clear choice. With that much space in the data closet, you won’t be running out of room for your cat pictures anytime soon. If you’re going big, you may as well go fast as well. There’s little point in splurging on storage if transfer times are sluggish. Thankfully, this card reads at a zippy 170MB/s with a UHS Speed Class of U3, the fastest possible, and a general speed class of 10. Writing at a respectable 90MB/s means it can handle video no problem. And, if you intend to use it in your phone, you’re in luck, as it’s rated A2 for its app performance. It’s a durable card, boasting waterproof, X-ray, and shock resistance, and will operate between -25C to 85C (-13F to 185F). It also includes an SD card adapter. 

Fastest microSD card: Kingston 256GB microSDXC Canvas Go Plus

Kingston

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Why it made the cut: Fast enough for rock-solid recordings at even 8K.

Specs:

  • Read speed: Up to 285MB/s
  • Write speed: Up to 165MB/s
  • UHS Speed Class: U3
  • Application Performance Class: A1

Pros:

  • Very fast
  • Suitable for 4K and 8K video recording
  • Comes with adapter and reader

Cons:

  • A1 app performance class

With more resolution comes the need for faster bus speeds and read/write processing. If a card is lacking in this department, your resulting video can be choppy and suffer from dropped frames. This is especially true when recording video at 8K. Kingston’s 256GB Canvas Go Plus is equipped for speed, with a UHS-II class bus speed and UHS Speed Class of U3. It can write at 165MB/s and has a Video Class rating of V90, the highest possible (and the highest on this list), with a minimum sequential write speed of 90MB/s. When transferring data to your computer, you’re looking at a lightning-fast rate of 285MB/s, something you’ll need if you’re moving 8K video files. You may not want to put this card in your phone—it’s only rated at A1 for application performance—but for high-resolution video work such as with drones and action cameras, it’s got you covered. As a bonus, it comes with an SD card adapter and card reader.

FAQs

Q: Is microSD better than SD?

Both SD and microSD use the FAT16 filesystem so in that sense they are similar. But, in other ways, microSD has the advantage. MicroSD cards can be used in a larger variety of devices than SD (and even in SD slots with an adapter). MicroSD cards have the edge in capacity, too; SD cards max out at 2GB while microSD can go up to 2TB when using the microSDXC format. Are they better? That’s hard to say but they are certainly more convenient.

Q: What’s the difference between microSD, microSDXC, and microSDHC?

While all microSD cards are the same in terms of physical dimension, their capacity and compatibility with your device may be different. General microSD cards have a capacity of 2GB and will work in any microSD slot. MicroSDHC can hold from 2GB to 32GB and will function in either SDHC or SDXC devices. The next largest, microSDXC, ranges from 32GB to 2TB but will only work in SDXC-compatible hardware. There’s also microSDUC, which can go up to 128TB. Double-check that you’re buying the correct format for your device.

Q: Does speed really matter?

In short, yes. Read speeds are important to the person who is waiting for a transfer to complete. Long transfer times can lead to a loss in productivity. Write and bus speeds will become tantamount when shooting pictures and video. If a card is not fast enough, it can lead to dropped frames in video. And, if your card is not specced highly enough, your device may not work properly. Make sure that the specifications of the card you buy match your device’s requirements.

A final word on the best microSD cards

When shopping for a microSD card, you should first consider the application for the device. That will determine the specifications required. Once you have this baseline established, you can then decide on extras like capacity and higher read/write speeds. As with anything else in technology, it’s best to spend as much as you can on a microSD card. There’s no point in splurging on a device and then ruining the experience by skimping on a card. Buy from established manufacturers when possible as they tend to be more reliable. And, finally, beware of counterfeit goods. If a deal seems too good to be true, it most likely is.

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