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Best microSD card 2021: Maximise your storage for smartphones, tablets, cameras and Nintendo Switch

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Don’t run out of space for apps, games, video or photos – these slot-in storage upgrades give you more capacity at a great price

Whether you’re shooting video on your action camera, downloading music and movies to your smartphone or trying to pack more games on your Nintendo Switch, microSD cards are always in demand. Whatever capacity you have never seems to be enough, and nobody wants to delete apps, games or photos just to make some space for more. What’s more, the growing popularity of action cams and dashcams means we have more devices than ever that need the tiny memory cards.

The good news is that fast, high-capacity cards have never been cheaper, and that you can now get the kind of storage that used to require a bulky hard drive on a microSD card only slightly bigger than your thumbnail. It’s not hard to find cards for every need, either. The bad news is that not all cards are the same, and that slow or unreliable cards can lose your files, slow down your devices or stop you getting the shot you really wanted. It’s crucial to make the right choice.


Best microSD card: At a glance


How to choose the best microSD card for you

These days, most devices support most microSD cards. While some older devices will only support microSDHC cards with a maximum capacity of 32GB, most released in the last five years will also support microSDXC cards, with capacities up to 1TB and – potentially – 2TB. It’s always worth checking online or in the manual to see whether your smartphone or camera supports the higher capacities – some won’t go beyond 128GB or 256GB, while others need a firmware update – but in the majority of cases, your chosen card should work.

How well it will work is another issue, and this usually comes down to speed.

What do the different speed ratings mean?

This is where things can get mind-boggling, as the industry has adopted a range of speed classes and ratings in a bid to clarify how fast cards are and the uses to which they’re suited. For a start, they have a speed class, indicated by a number in a circle. Nearly all of them these days are class 10, so they can support a minimum sequential write speed of 10MB/sec. Class 10 cards will also have an Ultra High-Speed rating: U1 or U3, symbolised by a “U” with the relevant digit inside it. The faster U3 cards have a minimum sequential write speed of over 30MB/sec, which is crucial when you’re shooting 4K video or bursts of high-resolution photos.

On top of this, most cards now have a “V” (for video) rating, going from V6 all the way to V90, indicating write speeds of 6MB/sec to 90MB/sec. You need a V30 card to shoot 4K video at speeds of 60 to 120 frames per second, while V60 is the base level for shooting 8K video at 60fps. V90 is theoretically capable of handling 8K video at up to 120fps. However, given that only a handful of professional-grade cameras can offer that, and that they tend to use the larger CFexpress 2.0 cards for storage, this isn’t what you might call a must-have.

The more important speed rating right now is the card’s “A” rating. This defines the level of performance required for storing and running applications on a tablet, smartphone or handheld gaming system, where there’s often a huge discrepancy in performance with apps running from the device’s onboard storage and apps running from a microSD card. The A rating covers not just the minimum sequential write speed (in MB/sec), but also performance with the kind of random read and write operations that happen when you’re playing games or running more intensive media or content-creation apps. If you’re looking for a card to host apps and games on your flagship phone or tablet, we’d suggest looking past the A1 base level and buying an A2 card.

What about the UHS ratings?

These standards cover the speed of the interface between the microSD card and your device (or memory card reader), as this can also limit the maximum speed of data transfers between the two. UHS-I has a maximum speed of 104MB/sec, and you’ll usually see a Roman numeral “I” beneath the U1 logo. UHS-II takes that up to 156MB/sec (with data transferring in both directions) or 312MB/sec (with data transferring in only one direction).

The latest UHS-III standard is faster still, with speeds of up to 624MB/sec in both directions simultaneously, while the SD Express standard takes this up to a staggering 985MB/sec. However, right now microSD cards that support either format are non-existent or of hen’s teeth rarity and are only supported by a handful of devices and professional card readers, though more are expected next year.

Should I always buy the fastest card I can afford?

Not necessarily – there’s a chance that your device won’t need it or won’t fully support it. If you’ve got a high-end 4K action camera, compact system camera or DSLR, it may support the fastest V90 and UHS II cards and make good use of their speeds, while some more recent flagship smartphones and tablets support UHS II. However, many mid-range and budget devices won’t. What’s more, even shooting 4K video won’t require them as long as you’re shooting at 30 or 60fps, although some professionals feel that the overhead helps ensure that your card doesn’t freeze in the middle of a shot.

That doesn’t mean you should avoid these cards. As they’re backwards-compatible, they will work anyway and, with a suitable USB-to-UHS II adapter, your photos and videos will transfer to your computer in less time. That’s a big deal for professional photographers and videographers or cinematographers. For most of us, a cheaper V30, UHS I card will be fine.

What if I’m buying for an action camera or dashcam?

Action cameras and – particularly – security cameras and dashcams have slightly different needs from other devices. As you’re shooting video, you tend to use up the capacity quickly then rewrite over and over again on the same card. With security cameras and dashcams, where you could be recording continuously, this is only going to happen that much faster. The longer it’s recording, the more of a beating the memory inside the microSD card is taking, causing it to wear out. For this reason, it’s worth looking for Endurance or Industrial microSD cards if you’re planning to use them in your security camera or dashcam. They’ll use specific types of flash memory that are more reliable, albeit at some cost to speed.

Read next: The best USB flash drives

The best microSD cards to buy

1. Samsung Evo Plus: The best all-round microSD card

Price: £9 (32GB), £17 (64GB), £24 (128GB) | Buy now from Amazon


There are faster cards and cheaper cards, but the Samsung Evo Plus is the perfect all-rounder. The latest version ups the speed rating from U1 to U3, and with sequential read speeds of 95.7MB/sec and write speeds of 86MB/sec in our tests, it’s fast enough to handle just about anything you can throw at it. What’s more, its random read/write speeds are more than good enough for your smartphone or Nintendo Switch.

It’s also waterproof, X-ray proof and able to cope with temperatures of between -25°C and 85°C. At higher capacities, the Integral Ultima Pro is slightly cheaper, and very slightly faster, but below 128GB this is very much the card to buy.

Just watch out for older versions that are still on the market. The latest versions have a part code ending with “GA”, rather than “DA”, and “Plus” rather than a “+”.

Key specs – Speed ratings: Class 10, U3, UHS-I; Storage capacities: 32GB to 512GB; Claimed speeds: Up to 100MB/sec read, up to 90MB/sec write (128GB, 256GB, 512GB), up to 100MB/sec read and 60MB/sec write (64GB), up to 95MB/sec read and 20MB/sec write (32GB)

2. Integral Ultima Pro Premium High Speed: The best-value microSD card at higher capacities

Price: £8 (32GB), £10 (64GB), £16 (128GB), £30 (256GB), £64 (128GB) | Buy now from Amazon


The Integral Ultima Pro is a close match to the Samsung Evo Plus when it comes to performance. We logged its sequential read speeds at 96.1MB/sec and its sequential write speeds at 87.4MB/sec, although it came in slightly slower on our random read/write tests.

Like the Samsung, it’s a versatile card that will cope with almost any device and application. Its advantage is that it’s such good value at capacities over 128GB, costing a few quid less for a 256GB card and saving you enough for a decent round of drinks if you go up to 512GB.

It’s a popular choice for Nintendo Switch users and a winner for action cameras, with U3, V30 and A1 ratings. Don’t get mixed up and buy the cheaper U1 versions, though, as the performance won’t be anywhere near as good.

Key specs – Speed ratings: Class 10, U3, UHS-I, A1; Storage capacities: 32GB to 512GB; Claimed speeds: Up to 100MB/sec read, up to 90MB/sec write (128GB), up to 100MB/sec read and 80MB/sec write (512B), up to 100MB/sec read and 70MB/sec write (32GB, 64GB, 256GB)

3. SanDisk Extreme Pro: The microSD card with monster speeds and massive capacity

Price: £12 (32GB), £14 (64GB), £24 (128GB), £47 (256GB), £102 (400GB), £98 (512GB), £234 (1TB) | Buy now from Amazon


On the face of it, the SanDisk Extreme Pro seems overpriced. This U3, V30, UHS-I card is significantly more expensive than the Samsung and Integral competition at most capacities, and when tested on our SanDisk ImageMate Pro card reader it wasn’t any faster, at least on sequential read and write speeds, which were 96MB/sec and 85.4MB/sec respectively.

Yet this card has some big points in its favour. First, it’s one of the only cards that comes in a whopping 1TB capacity. Second, stick it in one of SanDisk’s cheap MobileMate USB 3.0 readers and those read/write speeds leap up to 167MB/sec and 107MB/sec. What’s more, the random read/write speeds are high on both platforms, earning the card its A2 application rating.

It’s far from cheap and we suspect most smartphones won’t use its full performance, but it’s a sign of where things are going. The mid-range 128GB and 256GB versions are a little more affordable and would be ideal for your tablet, smartphone or Nintendo Switch.

Key specs – Speed ratings: Class 10, U3, UHS-I, A2; Storage capacities: 32GB to 1TB; Claimed speeds: Up to 170MB/sec read, up to 90MB/sec write (64GB to 1TB), up to 100MB/sec read and 90MB/sec write (32GB)

4. Samsung Pro Endurance: The best microSD card for cycle helmet cams and dashcams

Price: £9 (32GB), £15 (64GB), £29 (128GB) | Buy now from Amazon


The Samsung Pro Endurance is more expensive than the Evo Plus and slightly slower too. While sequential read speeds are decent, at 95.8MB/sec, we measured write speeds at a mere 35MB/sec.

Its key selling point, though, is right there in the product name: this microSD card is built for endurance, not performance. Samsung slaps it with a limited five-year warranty and claims it will last for up to 43,800 hours (or five years) of Full HD recording, and 25 times the continuous recording cycles of your average microSD card.

What’s more, it’s resistant to magnets and X-rays, and will survive temperatures between -25°C and 85°C. You can insert and remove the thing 10,000 times, and it will even cope with up to 75 hours in sea water. Hopefully, it won’t come across any of these issues in your cycle helmet cam or dashcam, but at least you can take comfort that, if it does, it’s going to be fine.

Key specs – Speed ratings: Class 10, U1, UHS-I; Storage capacities: 32GB to 128GB; Claimed speeds: Up to 100MB/sec read, up to 30MB/sec write

5. Lexar 1000x: UHS-II speeds for sensible money

Price: £9 (32GB), £15 (64GB), £29 (128GB) | Buy now from Amazon


With the Lexar 1000x, it’s all about the read speeds. Write speeds are surprisingly mediocre at around 60MB/sec, but bear in mind that this is still well above the requirements for 4K video recording. Its random read/write speeds are also nothing to write home about.

But insert it into a UHS-II to USB adapter and you’ll be amazed at how fast this card transfers data, reaching speeds of 162MB/sec. These test figures transfer to real-world use, with the 1000x taking 77 seconds to transfer 9.7GB of stills and video where the Samsung Evo Plus took 112 seconds.

There are even faster UHS-II cards available, but this one hits the sweet spot between performance and price.

Key specs – Speed ratings: Class 10, U3, UHS-II; Storage capacities: 32GB to 128GB; Claimed speeds: 150MB/sec read, write speed not specified

6. Lexar Professional 1066x: The best micro-SD card for all-round performance

Price: £17 (64GB), £32 (128GB) | Buy now from Amazon

Despite being rated faster than the Lexar 1000x, the Lexar Professional 1066x actually uses the slower UHS-I interface. This turns out not to be a big deal, though, as we still measured sequential read speeds of up to 157MB/sec and write speeds of 80MB/sec on our 64GB sample, with the faster 128GB to 512GB versions capable of over 120MB/sec.

Often, fast sequential speeds come at the expense of random read/write speeds, but the A2-class 1066x is an exception; it’s not as speedy as the Integral Ultima Pro Professional High-Speed card below, but it’s faster than the SanDisk Extreme Pro and Samsung Evo Plus on this count, making it a fine all-round performer. If you’re looking for a card that can run apps or cover video on your mid-range or high-end smartphone, you won’t get much better than this.

Key specs – Speed ratings: Class 10, U3, UHS-I, A2; Storage capacities: 32GB to 512GB; Claimed speeds: Up to 160MB/sec read, up to 70MB/sec write (64GB), up to 160MB/sec read and 120MB/sec write (128GB to 512GB)

7. Integral Ultima Pro Professional High Speed: The best microSD card for running apps

Price: £13 (64GB), £20 (128GB), £40 (256GB), £197 (1TB) | Buy now from Amazon

This Professional High-Speed variant of the Ultima Pro doesn’t immediately make a great impression. Our 128GB sample didn’t get near its 170MB/sec maximum sequential read speed or its 130MB/sec sequential write speed, even when used in one of Integral’s own high-speed card readers.

However, 99MB/sec and 88MB/sec aren’t to be sniffed at, and it comes into its own on random read/write speeds. Here, we saw the fastest performance we’ve seen from a microSD card, reaching speeds of over 12MB/sec, where the SanDisk and Samsung competition is stuck at under 7.5MB/sec. That’s great news if you’re looking for a fast microSD card for running apps or games. Given that it’s only slightly more expensive than the basic Ultima Pro, that makes it one of the best options for smartphone or Switch use.

Key specs – Speed ratings: Class 10, U3, UHS-I, A2; Storage capacities: 32GB to 1TB; Claimed speeds: Up to 170MB/sec read, up to 120MB/sec write (64GB), up to 170MB/sec read, up to 130MB/sec write (128GB to 256GB), up to 180MB/sec read, up to 150MB/sec write (1TB)

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