From phones and tablets to action cameras, dash cams and drones: they all use microSD for storage. Some home security cameras also record to a microSD card.

Just any old card won’t do though, especially if you’re trying to record HD or 4K video – you need the right one for the job. Here we explain how to choose a card and recommend those that you should buy.

You can jump straight to:

MicroSD card buying guide

Before you buy a card, check the maximum size that your device can accept. Dash cams are particularly limited – most will take up to 32GB, the limit of the SDHC standard – but most phones will support up to 256GB, with some up to a massive 2TB. 

Cards above 32GB are called ‘SDXC cards’ and can be used with devices that support this standard. Currently 2TB is the limit, though the biggest microSD cards you can currently buy are 512GB. 

If you’re wondering about the SD Express standard that was announced in June 2018, that’s currently only for full-size SD cards. It does hint of what’s to come for microSD, though. In essence it turns them into tiny portable SSDs, with capacities up to 128TB and speeds of up to 985MB/s. Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about this as there are no devices which support SD Express, let alone the microSD version.

Do I need a specific card for a camera or a phone?

Short answer: yes. Longer answer: some cards are so good, they’re capable of recording 4K video in your GoPro but will also give great performance in your phone.

It can be confusing to choose a card as there are so many standards and logos. Some markings refer to speed, others to capacity. Here’s how to figure them out.

The newest standards are ‘V’ and ‘A’, and you’ll see a number after each which represents a minimum standard of performance.

Best microSD for video recording

Basically, if you’re buying a microSD card to record video, you’ll want to look for one with a V10 logo or better. The number after the V is the guaranteed write speed in megabytes per second (MB/s), although it may be higher than this.

To record 4K video, you should aim for at least V30. The SD Association has recommendations for speeds you need for recording at different video resolutions:

Best microSD cards

If there’s no ‘V’ number, check the packaging or specifications to find out the write speed. Watch out because the biggest number is usually the read speed, not write.

Best microSD for phones and tablets

On the other hand, you might be buying a card to expand your phone or tablet’s storage. Here you need good performance for reading and writing small files. 

That’s why the other new rating system is ‘App performance’, denoted by an A, followed by a number. 

It works in a similar way to the video class, and you’ll see an A1 or A2 logo on a card. A2 is very new, but A1 cards should be fast enough for running apps and games.

So which card should I buy?

Stick to the well-known brands which will offer a warranty on their cards. Reputable brands include:  Samsung, SanDisk, Lexar, Kingston, Integral and Verbatim, among others.

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There are plenty of fakes and counterfeit microSD cards, so make sure you buy from a trusted seller. If you see a card on eBay that’s a lot cheaper than you expect it to be, there’s probably a good reason!

How we test microSD cards

We use CrystalDiskMark 6.0 to test the read and write speeds of each card. This tests both the sequential speeds (reading and writing large blocks of data) and small-file performance, using 4KB reads and writes.

Tests are carried out on our Intel Core i7-based test rig over USB 3.0. We use the full-size SD adaptors which come with cards and a Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader. If a card comes with its own USB 3.0 adaptor, as with Lexar’s own card, we use that instead.

Benchmark results

Best microSD card reviews

1. Samsung Evo Plus

Samsung Evo Plus

2. SanDisk Extreme Plus microSD

SanDisk Extreme Plus microSD

3. SanDisk Ultra

SanDisk Ultra microSD

4. Integral

Integral microSD

5. Toshiba M203 microSD

Toshiba M203 microSD

6. Verbatim Pro+ microSD

Verbatim Pro+ microSD

7. Transcend Ultimate microSD

Transcend Ultimate microSD

8. PNY Turbo Performance microSD

PNY Turbo Performance microSD





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