Micro SD cards have been around for a long time and are considered the de facto standard for memory expansion for a wide range of devices.
While commonly used in mobile phones, Micro SD cards can be used to add memory to devices like still and video cameras, dash cams, security cameras, and even compact Chromebooks and laptops.
While Micro SD card technology has progressed in leaps and bounds, the key component that most customers look for before making a purchasing decision is size or capacity. With 4K and other high resolutions, a high capacity card becomes essential due to the data-intensive nature of high resolution video.
In this review, we will take a look at high-capacity Micro SD cards. We will discuss why you might need one, which features and characteristic properties to watch out for, and whether it is important to shop only from trusted brands.
Finally, we will also recommend five of our top choices for high-capacity Micro SD cards that you can choose from, depending on your usage requirements.
Demystifying the Micro SD Card
The first thing to consider while purchasing a Micro SD card is how much storage you need. It is important to select the right amount of storage for your requirements.
However, when purchasing high-capacity cards, another factor is also crucial—how much capacity does your device support?
All devices that use Micro SD cards come with rated and validated support for a maximum capacity. Pay attention to this number so that you do not unnecessarily buy something larger. From there, the kind of application you have in mind will dictate the qualities that your Micro SD card should have.
In most cases, the higher capacity Micro SD card you have, the better. This is especially true for devices like cameras, dash cams, drones, and security cameras.
In all these cases, a higher-capacity Micro SD card means you can capture more footage without having to change out the storage media.
For dash cams, this can mean being able to capture many more hours’ worth of footage before the storage gets cycled and overwritten. Similarly, in home security cameras, a higher-capacity Micro SD card will let you preserve a larger quantity of footage locally.
To understand the most important qualities or features of a Micro SD card before you buy one, take a look at the front face.
Usually, all the certifications are printed or indicated there. For starters, you need to understand the class rating. A Class 10 card, considered to be a minimum requirement for most devices nowadays, means that the card has a minimum write speed of 10Mbps.
Micro SD cards also sometimes have a U1 or U3 rating, which is also indicative of the minimum write speed. A Class 10 U1 card operates at a minimum of 10Mbps whereas a U3 card is supposed to have a minimum write speed of 30Mbps.
At this juncture, it is also important to look up the actual read and write speeds of a Micro SD card before you consider it for purchase. While rated speeds will be clearly mentioned in the product packaging and documentation, real-world speeds are often different, usually coming in a little slower.
If your primary use case is storage for devices like mobile phones, tablets, and laptops, you should be looking for a Micro SD card that has an app performance rating. This ensures that apps stored on the card perform with speed and reliability.
Cards bearing an A1 rating are usually considered good enough for such use cases. With that said, if you are planning for heavy use, go for an A2-certified card.
If you are looking for a Micro SD card primarily for use with a video device like a camera, you should look for a video speed class rating on the card.
Cards can come with ratings like V10, V30, V60, and V90. The higher the number in the rating, the higher the minimum write speeds of the card. Rapid write speeds are essential when you are looking to capture video content, especially at high resolutions and frame rates.
For DSLR and mirrorless cameras, action cameras, and drones, it is always preferable to purchase a card with a higher video speed class rating.
UHS ratings can also matter in specific situations, especially where you are looking for higher bus speeds for the memory interface. USH-II rated cards are theoretically faster and have a different pin layout in the contact area than USH-I rated cards.
Cards that are rated for “Endurance” can come in handy for specific use cases, especially those that involve 24/7 use, constant reads, writes, and overwrites, and use in outdoor or extreme conditions.
This typically includes use in drones and security cameras. In such cases, it can be a major plus to opt for a card that has an endurance rating.
When purchasing Micro SD cards, it is a good idea to stick to well-known brands and avoid cheap products and knock-offs. These often do not operate at their rated speeds, have much less capacity than advertised, and can even cause damage to your devices.
Sandisk Extreme 1TB
This is the flagship offering from popular manufacturer Sandisk, well-known for creating a plethora of memory products.
While expensive, this becomes the automatic choice if you are specifically looking for a 1TB Micro SD card with no budget constraints.
The card receives the A2 rating for better app performance and also has a V30 rating for video performance, which means that it can be used in supported cameras that record 4K video. The card also boasts a max read speed of 160Mbps, while having a max write speed of 90Mbps, respectable figures considering the large storage capacity.
Particularly impressive is its speed when writing many small files, which makes it a great option for use in still and video cameras, drones, and action cameras. Enthusiasts of burst photography will also find appropriate utility with this card.
Lexar Play 1TB
If you are looking for a 1TB Micro SD card and want a value option, the Lexar Play 1TB offers excellent value for its price, which is lower than the Sandisk offering. This card also comes with the A2 rating for app performance and the V30 rating for video performance.
While the card promises up to 150Mbps read speeds, this is often not the case in practice. However, you will have fast read speeds for most applications. The write speed is quoted at a maximum of 30Mbps, which stands up to testing in most scenarios.
This is a perspicacious option for general purpose use, or for those looking to extend the storage of lightweight devices like Chromebooks and laptops. Pertaining to this, you can also consider this card for use in cameras or action cameras.
Samsung Evo Plus 512GB
A perfect all-rounder, this Micro SD card is a capable option for high-resolution cameras. Available at a maximum capacity of 512GB, this still gives you enough storage for your needs while being sturdy and long-lasting.
The card comes with the A2 and V30 certifications and can accommodate up to 30 hours of 4K video when paired with the right camera. With claimed speeds of up 130Mbps, you can expect real-world speeds to be a little slower, with read speeds going up to 75Mbps and write speeds up to 60Mbps.
The best factor going for this card is the unbeatable price, which translates to excellent value.
Sandisk Ultra 512GB
If you are looking for the ideal high-capacity Micro SD card for your smartphone, tablet, Chromebook, or laptop, look no further than the Sandisk Ultra 512GB. This comes at a great price point, provides reasonable performance numbers, and provides a whole lot of storage.
The card is Class 10 UHS 1 rated with the A1 app performance specification. With the maximum capacity version, you can easily look forward to excellent app performance on your devices with speeds reaching 100 Mbps.
Sandisk High Endurance 256GB
If you are looking for a Micro SD card that can take a beating and keep on working, this is the ideal card for you. This 256GB offering from Sandisk is a Class 10 U3 rated card with the V30 rating for video performance.
The card truly justifies the “Endurance” tag in its name, with a rated minimum uptime of 20,000 hours.
The card is also shockproof, radiation-proof, weather-proof, and temperature-proof. Moreover, it delivers on the promised write speeds of up to 30Mbps. This makes it a great choice for use in scenarios that involve round-the-clock recording and constant rewriting of video footage.
For this reason, this is the card you should choose if you are looking for a memory solution for your dash cam or security cameras around the house.
Micro SD cards are extremely important memory accessories that are widely usable in a variety of devices. Most people use one or more of such devices and would therefore have a need for these cards.
A thorough understanding of what is on the menu, how the features translate into real-world use case scenarios, and which brands are reliable can help you arrive at a purchasing decision with better information and insight.