Best microSD cards (January 2023): flash memory for drones, cameras and more

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Best microSD Cards
(Image credit: Future)
Editor's Note: January 2023

The world of removable storage has welcomed yet another 1TB microSD card in December 2022, this time from Silicon Power, its second of this capacity and one that we will review it shortly. Even Amazon has released a 1TB microSD card under its Basics label but one name that is still missing is Samsung. The world's largest memory card vendor has yet to release any 1TB microSD card probably because of demand. At the time of writing, the top 3 most popular capacities for microSD cards are 128GB ones. 1TB - the largest commercially available capacity - no longer carries a premium on smaller capacities and we'd expect them to fall in price even further as NAND supply exceeds demand well into 2023

Désiré Athow, Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

With so many options available, identifying the best microSD cards on the market is no easy feat. But we’ve carefully selected the top microSD flash memory cards you can use in smartphones, cameras, drones, and even game consoles, like the Nintendo Switch.

Many of the microSD cards featured in this guide also include an adapter that allows them to be used in devices that support standard SD memory cards.

MicroSD cards allow you to expand the capacity of many devices easily. But it’s not as straightforward as just packing a bunch of gigabytes into a small memory card.

The best microSD cards also need to offer high speeds. These are essential when moving large files to and from the card. This is especially true when recording video in Ultra HD (4K) resolutions. Your device will be writing a lot of data, and you’ll need ample space.

This is our pick of the best microSD cards currently available in terms of pricing, reliability, and usability. Just remember that it is advisable to have cloud backup in case you lose your card (they're tiny, remember). 

Should data on them ever become corrupted or accidentally deleted, you can try of one of our best data recovery software as well. And if you're looking for an SD card for your camera instead, check out our separate best SD cards guide for our advice on those.

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung Evo Plus microSD card

The best all-round microSD card

Specifications

Capacity: 128GB, 256GB. 512GB
Interface: microSD

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Ideal for hi-res recording

Reasons to avoid

-
Write speeds slower than claims

The Samsung Evo Plus microSD card looks like 'one card to rule them all at first glance. A low price point paired with huge read and write speeds makes it a desirable option. And while we don’t expect these cards to hit top numbers in testing, we did find this card only reached a write speed of 58.5MB/s, which is less than half the advertised speed. A read speed of 76.1MB/s is also a touch shy of claimed max read speeds. But considering how little this card costs, it's a speedy little number that should more than match most devices you throw at it. We were pleasantly surprised to see its performance at such a low price.


The Samsung Pro Endurance microSD card

(Image credit: Samsung)

2. Samsung Pro Endurance microSD card

A great option for 4K video recording

Specifications

Capacity: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Interface: microSD

Reasons to buy

+
Robust
+
Great for 4K video

Reasons to avoid

-
Unnecessary for regular users

As one of the more costly microSD cards on this list, you might think that the Pro Endurance's claimed to write speeds of 30MB/s are surprisingly low compared to other cards in this price range. During testing, we also found that this card fell slightly short of its claimed read speeds of 100MB/s at just 74.4MB/s. However, it more than excelled when writing data, pushing over 15MB/s above the stated 30MB/s at 45.6MB/s, and the key to this card’s prowess is in its reliability and consistency. If you need a card for your drone or dash cam that's capable of 4K video recording, it's a great choice.


SanDisk Extreme Plus microSD card

3. SanDisk Extreme Plus microSD card

A flagship microSD card

Specifications

Capacity: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
Interface: microSD

Reasons to buy

+
Very fast speeds
+
Good at writing small files

Reasons to avoid

-
Cheaper options out there

SanDisk claims this microSD card can read up to 95MB/s and write 90MB/s, and in tests, it came pretty close to those speeds. This makes it a very fast card, and with smaller files, it's even faster, which means this is a great card for action cams, drones, or burst photography. Again, it's a bit pricey, but if you don't mind spending a bit above the odds, you'll get a great microSD card for your needs.


The Lexar Play microSD card

(Image credit: Lexar)

4. Lexar Play microSD card

Great value for money

Specifications

Capacity: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Interface: microSD

Reasons to buy

+
Good value for the speeds
+
Huge capacities up to 1TB

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as fast as advertised

Despite being one of the cheaper microSD cards in this guide, the Lexar Play surprised us during testing, popping out a healthy 75MB/s write speed and 83.1MB/s read speed. The latter didn't match up to its advertised 150MB/s read speeds, but it did excel at the stated 30MB/s write speeds, which means this card trumped some of the more expensive cards in our round-up. If you’re looking to grab a microSD card for your drone or other media device and need to bank big data (capacity exceeds 1TB) or perhaps need multiple decent cards, the Lexar Play is a great option.


The Lexar 1066x microSD card on a white background

(Image credit: Lexar)

5. Lexar 1066x microSD card

Pricey, but produces consistent, reliable speeds

Specifications

Capacity: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Interface: microSD

Reasons to buy

+
Consistently high transfer speeds
+
Proven reliability

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for the performance

Given its price tag, we were expecting a lot from the Lexar 1066x microSD card and weren’t disappointed. Despite not achieving the claimed read/write speeds of 160MB/s and 120MB/s, respectively, it was pleasing to see the write speed (71.2MB/s) was almost as high as the read speed (76.8MB/s) during testing. The 1066x line extends to standard SD cards and Compact Flash, and from our experience, we’d recommend it for long-term reliability and consistent speeds.


SanDisk Ultra microSD card

6. SanDisk Ultra microSD

A large capacity microSD card

Specifications

Capacity: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 200GB, 256GB, 400GB
Interface: microSD

Reasons to buy

+
Decent speeds
+
Large capacitiy

Reasons to avoid

-
Not brilliant for 4K recording

The SanDisk Ultra microSD is a brilliant microSD card for people looking for large capacities, with the latest version offering up to 400GB of storage space. That should give you plenty of room for storing high-resolution images and video files. Write speeds are good, but they are not the fastest. If you shoot in 4K, that might be an issue, but for many people, the slightly slower speeds are worth the amount of storage space you get.


Kingston microSD Action Camera

7. Kingston microSD Action Camera

Ideal for Go Pros

Specifications

Capacity: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Interface: microSD

Reasons to buy

+
Very robust
+
Good speeds

Reasons to avoid

-
Not amazing if you're not using it in an action camera

If you're looking for a microSD card to put inside an action camera, like the Go Pro, you want something that can record data quickly while also withstanding drops, shocks, and splashes. This is where the Kingston microSD Action Camera is designed especially for action cameras. This means it has an incredibly robust design and good read and writes speeds. It's a bit overkill if you're just going to use it in a smartphone, so one of the other microSD cards in this list could be better suited to your needs.

Integral 512GB microSDXC Class 10 Memory Card

8. Integral 512GB microSDXC Class 10 Memory Card

Another great large capacity microSD card

Specifications

Capacity: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Interface: microSD

Reasons to buy

+
Large capacity
+
Good speeds

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow speeds for video

Many microSD cards are low-capacity, which is fine if you just need an extra bit of space in your smartphone or tablet. Still, if you're taking lots of high-resolution images or want to take advantage of modern smartphone's support for microSD cards up to 2TB in size, then the Integral 512GB microSDXC Class 10 Memory Card is worth considering, offering a huge 512GB of storage space. Of course, you can also get versions with less space if you don't need as much, but for those who need to store large files, this is the microSD card for you.


Frequently Asked Questions

How to choose your microSD memory card

1. It's not worth looking for memory cards with capacities smaller than 4GB simply because the price premium you pay for twice or four times the storage is tiny.

2. Make sure you include the delivery price when doing the numbers as quite often you end up paying more for the postage than the drive itself, particularly for low-cost models.

3. If you plan to opt for large capacity cards (32GB or more), make sure that your device is SDXC compatible.

4. If you plan to move files to and from portable devices (tablets or smartphones), consider a microUSB card reader such as the Leef Access.

5. Avoid buying your memory cards from vendors with few feedbacks on auction websites as these drives might turn out to be fake. All the vendors listed below are tried and trusted ones.

6. For 128GB and above, SD cards are generally cheaper as users usually settle for 64GB as this matches the maximum supported capacity of most portable devices. In general, microSD cards with an adaptor cost less than the equivalent SD card.

7. Note that all the capacities are likely to be much less than stated when they are formatted.

8. SD cards are usually divided into classes which gives a rough idea of the minimum performance to be expected. A Class 4 card is guaranteed to deliver at least 4MBps while a Class 10 should surpass 10MBps.

9. Similarly, many vendors report their speeds in terms of "x" rating which is a multiple of 150KBps (the read speed of a standard CDROM drive). A 100x card can be expected to deliver more than 14MBps.

10. If you plan to buy microSD cards simply to store data, don't. Memory sticks, being cheaper and more robust, are a better choice.

What are the largest memory cards in the world?

 

Below is the list of the biggest memory cards; there are eight memory cards that have a 1TB capacity, four SD and four microSD. At the time of writing, the highest capacity microSD or SD cards are:

Samsung, HP, Teamgroup, Micro Center, Netac and Patriot are the other trustworthy memory card vendors that sell 512GB microSD and/or SD cards but have yet to announce any plans to sell 1TB models.

It is worth noting that there are sadly, dozens of fake 1TB and 2TB memory cards available on open marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon for rock bottom prices. It goes without saying that we strongly discourage anyone from purchasing them; they are essentially just a big, fat scam.

Read our microSD card reviews


Collin Probst
B2B Hardware Editor, TechRadar Pro

Collin is the B2B Hardware Editor for TechRadar Pro. He has been in journalism for years with experience in both small and large markets including Gearadical, DailyBeast, FutureNet and more.


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