Last updated: August 7, 2021

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Micro SD cards have become an indispensable part of everyday life. The extended storage capacity of up to 1 TB allows you to store gigantic amounts of photos and hours of video in large format. But not only media, but also games, such as on the Switch, can be stored.

The Micro SD card test 2021 is intended to make it easier for you to find your perfect Micro SD card. The various brands and capacities were compared and the advantages and disadvantages filtered out. This should make your purchase decision easier. Whether you need a micro SD card for your mobile phone, tablet or drone, you will find the right one for you here.




Summary

  • Micro SD cards allow you to expand your storage space with a variety of different designs and requirements.
  • Basically, there are three different models of Micro SD cards: Micro SD, Micro SDHC, Micro SDXC, all of which are available in different versions
  • Micro SDHC and SDXC are suitable for almost all devices nowadays, as they are usually very powerful and have a high storage capacity, but you should make sure that your device supports Micro SDXC

The Best Micro SD Card: Our Choices

Micro SD cards: buying and evaluation criteria

The following article will show you which criteria you should look for when buying a micro SD card, so that you can make the best decision between the many different micro SD cards. The criteria with which you can compare micro SD cards are as follows:

The following section explains in more detail what exactly lies behind the criteria.

Storage capacity

The storage capacity of a Micro SD card indicates the available storage space. The three different types of micro SD card each have different storage capacities.

Micro SD 1.0, for example, has a maximum card capacity of 1 GB, which is insufficient in almost all cases nowadays. The other version of the Micro SD 1.0 is the Micro SD 1.1, which has a maximum storage capacity of 2 GB, which is also extremely low.

The next generation are the Micro SDHC cards, which have a storage capacity of up to 32 GB. The latest cards available on the market are the Micro SDHX cards, which are intended for storage capacities of more than 32 GB up to 2 TB.

The largest possible storage capacity of a Micro SD card is currently 1 terabyte.

The next generation will be the Micro SDUC cards. They will have storage capacities from 2 TB up to 128 TB. However, these are not yet available.

Speed classes

The write speed of your Micro SD card indicates the speed at which the card writes data to the memory. There are three different types of speed class: Speed Class, UHS Speed Class and Video Speed Class.

The Speed Class is divided into the different classes 2, 4, 6 and 10. As you can guess, the higher the number, the faster the data transfer. For example, HD videos are possible with a Speed Class 10.

There are 3 different classes: Speed Class, UHS Speed Class and Video Speed Class.

The UHS Speed Class (Ultra High Speed) is defined by its bus interface speeds of up to 624 megabytes per second. It is divided into UHS-I (104 MB/s), UHS-II (324 MB/s) and UHS-III (624 MB/s). Again, the higher the number, the faster the data transfer.

Here you can already see clear differences in performance between the classes. For example, a micro SD card with UHS-III can store up to 8K video recordings with the right combination of video speed classes.

The Video Speed Class is divided into V6, V10, V30, V60 and V90. The most common video speed class among Micro SD cards is V30. Many Micro SD cards run with the combination UHS-I and V30. However, there are also offers and combinations with UHS-II and V60 or V90.

With this combination, it should be possible to record FULL HD, 4K, 8K and even 3D. However, you should make sure that your device is compatible with UHS-II, otherwise this Micro SD card designed with UHS-II can only run on UHS-I.

Application performance class

The application performance class determines the performance of the card when several processes run simultaneously or within a short time of each other on the card. A distinction is made between the application performance classes A1 and A2. However, not only the class is decisive, but also other factors such as the write speed, read speed and the capabilities of the card controller.

Application performance classes A1 and A2, for example, allow apps to run directly on the card.

A distinction is made between the A1 and A2 performance classes

In contrast to A1, A2 can execute three additional commands: Command Queuing, Self-Maintenance and Cache. If the operating system of the device allows it, 32 commands can be sent simultaneously to the controller with the first command, for example.

With the second command, the card can reorganise memory blocks on its own and with the third command, the card is allowed faster data access.

10 MB/s is the minimum sequential write speed of the two application performance classes. The minimum read speed of A1 is 1,500 IOPS while A2 has 4,000 IOPS. In addition, the minimum write speed of A1 is 500 IOPS and for A2 it is 2,000 IOPS.

Flash chips

Most Micro SD cards still have either SLC (=Single Level Cell) or MLC (=Multit Level Cell) written on them. This only indicates which flash chips have been built into the Micro SD card. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Single Level Cell cards usually have a faster read and write speed, but are also more expensive. They store 1 bit per cell. Nevertheless, SLC cards score points for their long lifespan, which can be up to 10 times longer than that of MLC cards. In addition, SLC cards have a lower power consumption.

Multi Level Cell cards are much cheaper than Single Level Cell cards.

They store more than 1 bit per cell. Due to the storage of several bits per cell, this variant is slower. However, it has a higher storage density. Thus, in contrast to SLC, twice or even more information can be stored on the same area of the chip. SCL and MLC are two different types of NAND flash memory.

Micro SD Cards: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

In the following section, the most important questions about micro SD cards have been filtered out and answered.

What is a Micro SD card?

A Micro SD card, formerly also called TransFlash, is a very small memory card for mobile phones, tablets and other mobile devices. It differs from other SD cards in its compact size of 15 mm x 11 mm x 0.7 mm and its light weight of 0.25 grams.

The term SD card comes from English and can be translated as "secure digital storage medium". In this case, the word micro only describes the size of the storage medium.

The Micro SD card stores its data, pictures, videos, music, documents and sometimes entire operating systems on its flash memory. Due to this storage technology on the flash memory, this storage medium actually also has a limited lifespan.

You can store various data compactly on a micro SD card. (Picture source: pixabay / viarami)

The lifespan of your SD card also depends on the number of write cycles, but this lifespan is rarely actually used. It can be anything from around 80 years to 200 years, depending on the write cycles, but also on the storage capacity and type of your storage medium.

The structure of a micro SD card is quite understandable. On the outside is the housing with the various labels on the top of the card. If you were to "open up" the card, i.e. remove the housing, the circuit board, the controller and the integrated contacts would be revealed.

In the case of a Micro SD card, you would also see eight pins on the bottom side, which are used for communication with the card reader.

What types of Micro SD cards are there?

If you want to buy a micro SD card, you can choose between three different types of micro SD cards. They differ fundamentally in their file systems and memory size. The following table lists the most important advantages and disadvantages of the different Micro SD cards.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Micro SD Cheap Maximum storage capacity of 2GB, outdated
Micro SDHC Most modern and popular type nowadays, price-performance ratio very good, available in different speed classes Only compatible with devices that also support SDHC (but over 90% of devices do nowadays)
Micro SDXC Can already handle video formats in 4K or even 8K well Not yet supported by every device due to its newness

The Micro SD card has a storage capacity of up to 2GB and is equipped with the FAT16 file system. Further down the line, the Micro SDHC card has a storage capacity of up to 32GB and has the FAT32 file system. The Micro SDXC card scores highest here with a storage capacity of up to 2TB and is formatted with the exFAT system. With this powerful card, you can take high-quality photos and videos in HD without any problems.

How much does a Micro SD card cost?

The cheapest micro SD card costs as little as €5. In contrast, high-end cards can be found at around €200. The price range in this sector is really wide, so you can get an overview of the price-performance ratio in the following table:

Price range Description
Low-priced (0 - 24€) Micro SD 16/32GB(Kingston), Micro SDHC 4/16/32GB (Samsung,Gigastone), Micro SDXC 64/128GB (Hama,Axe,Samsung,SanDisk)
Medium-priced (25 - 59€) Micro SDXC 200/256/200/1024GB (Samsung,SanDisk, Genericn)
High-priced (over 60€) Micro SDXC 256/400/512GB (SanDisk)

Of course, this is only a rough overview of what is available on the market. What you don't see now are, of course, background factors of the micro SD card such as the speed class, the writing speed, the data bus and thus, of course, the quality.

SanDisk was the first company to produce SD cards for sale and therefore dominates this market. But it also offers high-quality products. This means that a micro SD card with perhaps a high storage capacity but a low speed class cannot be compared with a high-quality memory card with a high storage capacity and high writing speed.

Especially for drones with high-quality video recordings, you should not skimp on the memory card, because this could lead to memory problems, which would be particularly annoying here. (Image source: unsplash / Pedro Henrique Santos)

The former can store a lot, but cannot support HD videos well, for example, whereas the latter, depending on the type, can most likely support 4K videos without any problems.

How do I transfer the data from the Micro SD card to the laptop?

At some point, every Micro SD card, no matter how large, will be full and then it can be practical to move all the files such as pictures, videos and documents to the laptop, or to an external hard drive connected to the laptop.

Nowadays, most laptops have an SD slot where the common size SD card 24 mm x 32 mm x 2.1 mm fits. However, since yours is a Micro SD card, you will need an SD card size adapter where you insert your Micro SD card. The adapter with your micro SD card inside is now inserted into the SD slot of your laptop and should then appear in the hard disk programme of your PC.

An external memory card can be used in many ways. It can also be used in laptops, smartphones and tablets. (Image source: unsplash / Domenico Loia)

Now you can copy your data to the laptop or transfer it completely. Simply click on the selected media with CTRL + Shift and then either copy with CTRL + C or transfer with CTRL + X.

Now go to the desired folder where you want to put your media and press the key combination CTRL + V. You can of course also copy your media to your laptop. Your desired folder can of course also be on your external hard drive, it doesn't matter.

How do I format a Micro SD card?

Formatting your Micro SD card deletes all data on it. This will also make the Micro SD card last longer.

  • Back up your data before formatting: Before formatting your Micro SD card, you should back up your data, because once formatted, you cannot recover your data. The purpose of formatting your Micro SD card is to empty it. In effect, this means that you delete all your data on your card.
  • Insert the Micro SD card into the laptop: As a rule, formatting your card can be done via any device. If you have inserted your micro SD card into your laptop via an SD card adapter, you can start this in the properties menu of the external drive.
  • Directly from the mobile phone: Of course you can also delete your photos manually, but this is not quite as effective because there is usually still data on the card that is not necessarily visible.
  • On the camera: You can also format your card from the camera. Here you will find the function "Format memory card" in the menu. This also works when your micro SD card is inserted in your mobile phone. In your smartphone, you will usually find a separate menu item in the settings.

After formatting, your Micro SD card is like new again and can be filled with media. You should remember to format your card from time to time, this is important and will prolong its life.

What are the alternatives to a Micro SD card?

A Micro SD card is super convenient and virtually irreplaceable. However, there are a few other ways to deal with the many or too many media and store them somewhere else.
Alternative Description
External storage to connect Micro-USB
External hard drive/ SSD hard drive to connect to your laptop via a cable
External memory card reader for removable media If the external memory is changed often, you can connect a memory card reader in between
Connect external storage via adapter The already existing SSD can be connected to the smartphone with it

As you can see, there are alternatives to the micro SD card. However, you should keep in mind that this can certainly not replace a micro SD card in the long term.

Conclusion

With the help of a Micro SD card, you can significantly increase your storage capacity. When buying a micro SD card, you can choose between different types, storage capacities, speed classes and quality. You should have thought about what you need it for so that you can proceed according to the criteria.

You should also make sure that your memory card is compatible with your device. Most devices today are at least SDHC downwards compatible. It is also an advantage to have a suitable adapter for your micro SD card so that you can also insert your micro SD card into your laptop or SLR camera.

Image source: suparerg / 123rf

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