|How to pick the best microSD card for your Android phone
As we find out each time a major manufacturer decides to release a flagship phone without a micro SD slot (we’re looking at you, Galaxy S6), Android users remain passionate about options to expand their storage. But how well your micro SD card performs depends on its class and speed, as well as the capabilities of your phone. Here, we tell you everything you need to know to help you pick the best micro SD card for your Android device.
When buying a micro SD card on a site like Amazon, you’ll see that there’s a lot more information than just ‘[brand name] 32GB micro SD card’. Usually, the name of the micro SD card is two full lines of text, which can be baffling. Below is a diagram showing you what crucial bits information on a micro SD mean, and below that we go into the details that’ll help you choose the best micro SD card for you.
|Confused by all the jargon when buying microSD cards? This diagram should help.
Table of Contents
Will a better micro SD card speed up my phone?
The most important question is whether picking one micro SD card over another will improve performance on your phone, to which the short answer is ‘Yes’.
If you store apps and photos on your micro SD card (what else would you use it for?), then a higher-speed micro SD card will save photos faster, improve data transfer speeds when moving files between devices, and open apps stored on your micro SD card faster. Note that opening apps on microSD cards may be a bit slower than if you were storing them on your phone’s internal memory, because there’s an extra layer of communication between your phone and micro SD card that needs to be carried out.
|microSD cards might not necessarily speed up your phone.
What’s the difference between SDHC and micro SDXC?
When buying a micro SD card, you’ll notice that it’s either a micro SDXC or SDHC card. The difference between these two micro SD formats is simply the amount of data they can store. SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) stores up to 32GB of data, while SDXC (Secure Digital Extended Capacity) handles 64GB and above.
|Sandisk released a 200GB micro SD card in March 2015. Looking at the picture, the ’10’ at the bottom left reveals it’s a Class 10 card. On the right side, you can see that it’s a micro SDXC card, and the ‘1’ next to that means it’s UHS-1-compatible.
Many lower-end devices don’t support SDXC micro SD cards, so it’s crucial that you check your phone’s compatibility before buying one. Most SDXC cards go up to 128GB, but in March 2015, Sandisk revealed the world’s first 200GB microSD SDXC card, which
What does ‘class’ mean on a micro SD card?
This one’s important. Micro SD cards come in several different classes – Class 2, 4, 6 and 10. While these numbers may mean nothing to you (and leave you wondering what happened to the other numbers up to 10), they in fact simply reflect the minimum rates at which these cards sustain data transfers. So a Class 2 card reads and writes data at 2MB/s, while a Class 10 card does so at 10MB/s. Suddenly it’s not that complicated, right?
The ‘Class’ number directly reflects the minimum write speed of the card. However, top-quality cards can run much faster than this, with some of the best ones out there clocking read speeds up to 95 MB/s. One such card is the SanDisk Extreme Pro, which can be picked up for $33 at Amazon.com or £34 at Amazon.co.uk or Rs.3,699 Amazon.in
What does UHS mean on a micro SD card?
Since 2009, certain microSD cards are also UHS-1 or UHS-3-compatible. While in theory UHS cards can reach data transfer speeds of up to 312 MB/s, you are realistically only likely to attain the minimum transfer speeds listed below, because no smartphone currently supports the UHS standard. As such, UHS will make little difference to your micro SD card speed at this point.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to consider when buying a micro SD card, and hopefully the above guide will give you an idea of which one to buy. It’s also worth sticking to reputable brands for micro SD cards, such as SanDisk, Samsung and Kingston. Use the prices of these brands as a guidelines as well – if you see a micro SD card from another company that’s five times cheaper than these, then you should be wary of its quality.