Best MicroSD Cards for Android Devices in 2022

While most microSD cards look similar, key differences set them apart. Some of them are simple, like capacity or maximum read and write speeds, but others are more nuanced, like endurance and I/O operations per second. These little features can add up to a microSD card that won’t slow down your phone, or will if you’re not careful. We’ve rounded up the best microSD cards to ensure you have the perfect card for your Android phone, tablet, Chromebook, or camera.

During objective tests, the SanDisk Extreme ranks near the top of the pack, even when compared to high-speed drives designed for use in demanding cameras. With a sequential read speed of up to 160MB/s, Extreme is at the top of the pack for smartphone use. It’s also no secret that SanDisk microSD cards are among the most reliable long-term. Finally, it comes in capacities from 32GB up to 1 terabyte to accommodate any storage limits the software on your phone or Chromebook may have.

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SanDisk Extreme microSD card

If you insist on having the highest-performing gear possible, the premium 1000x from photography-focused manufacturer Lexar has you covered. It uses the UHS-II bus commonly found in high-end cameras and is backwards compatible with the UHS-I found in most smartphones. It offers more than enough speed to accommodate 4K, 120 FPS smartphone video and is the ideal choice if you frequently use your phone to store or transfer large files to a PC via a high-speed SD card reader.

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Lexar Professional 1000x microSD card

Samsung doesn’t just make some of the best Android phones on the planet; also makes some of the best microSD and flash storage cards on the market. While this inexpensive microSD card may not be as fancy as the Lexar 1000x or the SanDisk Extreme’s 90MB/s write speeds, it works perfectly fine without breaking the bank. It’s perfect if you want to store music and movies on your smartphone, but it’s not ideal for running apps, and higher-end smartphones may have limitations when shooting 4K video.

advantages

  • long-term reliability
  • highly competitive price
Cons

  • Gross performance is below average

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Samsung Evo Select microSD card

If you only need 128 or 256GB of storage expansion, the PNY Pro Elite is worth consideration. It lives up to its A2 rating by loading non-critical apps like games and messaging suites with impressive speed. Despite its affordable price, its overall performance is almost on par with the best. However, if you need a 512GB or larger microSD card, look elsewhere, as this particular line has a higher-than-average failure rate at those sizes.

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PNY Pro Elite microSD card

Most of Lexar’s memory offerings focus on still and video cameras, which generally prioritize high sequential write speeds. This one is a bit different, as its A2 IOPS rating means you can load, update, and manage apps with the best of them. While it won’t match the speed of a phone’s internal storage, it’s perfect if you like to play graphics-intensive games that need a lot of storage space. However, when it comes to sequential read and write speeds, it lags a bit behind the pack.

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Lexar Professional 1066x microSD card

If you want the best speeds and most reliable storage and are willing to make a slightly higher than average investment, the SanDisk Extreme Pro should be on your radar. It markets itself with the same speed classes and IOPS ratings as many of its competitors, but it actually outperforms most of the competition in practical benchmarking. It’s a triple threat, just as good for storing photos, videos and music or shooting 4K video as it is for running apps. In fact, the only noticeable downside is that it’s a bit more expensive than most others.

advantages

  • Almost unmatched performance
  • Impressive resistance
Cons

  • The speed still depends on the device
  • somewhat expensive

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SanDisk Extreme Pro microSD Card

If you own a relatively recent flagship smartphone and want to ensure you get the highest speeds from your expanded storage, consider the Samsung Pro Plus. It exceeds all the qualifications required for the V30 and A2 standards, and each size performs similarly, which isn’t always the case with high-capacity microSD cards. The only knock against this one is that it is noticeably more expensive than most.

advantages

  • Above-average benchmark results
  • From a highly trusted manufacturer
  • Low failure rate
Cons

  • The cost is also well above average.

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Samsung Pro Plus microSD card

Here’s how to get the most effective microSD storage for your phone and ensure high-performance features like 4K video, all without spending too much money.

ANDROIDPOLICE VIDEO OF THE DAY

How important are speed class ratings?

To be frank, not much. The collection of letters and numbers on the front of SD and microSD cards indicate the minimum speeds they are capable of, not the maximum. You will commonly see letters like U3, C10, UHS, and more. These letters have a specific meaning; for example, the C10 rating means that a card can write large sequential files at 10 megabytes per second or faster (not very fast these days). However, at this point, some of these numbers are redundant or outdated, and none of them tell the whole story when it comes to real-world performance.

What microSD card ratings to look for

U3 and V30

UHS Class 3 and Video Class 30 mean the same thing. They denote a minimum continuous write speed of at least 30 megabytes per second. In theory, this is fast enough to accommodate 4K video at 120 frames per second, and is a benchmark rating that lets you know if a microSD card is fast enough for a smooth experience with today’s advanced smartphones.

A1 and A2

These are relatively new compared to the various speed ratings. Instead of measuring a card’s ability to read and write individual small and large files, they record the minimum input/output operations per second that the storage is capable of. Today’s Android phones are designed to take advantage of high IOPS capabilities, making it easy for the operating system to access multiple small files with the shortest possible response time. IOPS ratings are especially important if you’re storing entire apps on your microSD card rather than just music and photo collections.

A1 denotes a card rated for 1,500 read IOPS and 500 write IOPS, while A2 bumps those numbers up to 4,000 IOPS and 2,000 IOPS, respectively.

A note about storing apps on microSD cards

Once upon a time, it was possible to configure a microSD card to act as expanded internal storage. Unfortunately, today, that is not the case. While some advanced tricks allow you to combine a smartphone’s internal storage and a microSD expansion card, manufacturers have all but excluded most users from that option.

Believe it or not, this is not a conspiracy against the consumer. The increased size and complexity of smartphone apps, the huge speed advantage of internal storage, and the ever-present (though still relatively small) risk of microSD card failure means your best smartphone experience will come if you keep the most applications off of your expansion card. Manufacturers design modern phones to take great advantage of blazing-fast internal storage, and running large apps from a microSD card can lead to poor performance and fatal errors.


It is still possible to store some apps and app data on microSD cards. If you plan on doing that, make sure you get a microSD card with an A2 IOPS rating to minimize slowdowns.

The scourge of fake microSD cards

The process used by some of the major online retailers to maintain their stock and ship orders makes it possible to purchase fake SD cards from reputable sellers. For the consumer, it can be somewhat challenging to determine if they are looking at a real or fake microSD card. Fake microSD cards are usually much smaller than the advertised size and, in most cases, work for a short time before issuing a fatal error.

While it’s nearly impossible to tell from an online listing whether a microSD card is genuine or counterfeit, it’s helpful to buy directly from the manufacturer or retailer; look for the one sold by Amazon/Walmart instead of some random third-party seller. Once you’ve got the card in your hands, look for misaligned printing on the card itself, typos on the packaging and documentation, or obvious manufacturing issues like missing pins or rough plastic edges. It is also worth comparing the colors of a card with the manufacturer’s official press images. Counterfeiters often come close to authentic color schemes, but frequently get it wrong enough to notice under scrutiny.


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