microSD ( with ‘m’ in small-caps and ‘SD’ in large cap font) is a Flash memory card which can be easily removed and replaced into a compatible device. ‘SD’ stands for Secure Digital. A Flash memory is a kind of memory-storage that is similar to RAM when it comes to storing data, but is slightly slower in terms of speed. However, unlike RAM, the data on it does not get erased when the device is switched off, which is its chief advantage. In this way it is functions like a hard drive which is also a non-volatile storage, but is much faster. This is the reason microSD is by far the most preferred form of permanent memory storage used in Android Smartphones, apart from various other digital gadgets like digital cameras, video games, etc.
A microSD card’s chief advantage is that it lets you to catapult the storage capacity of your phone by many folds. However, its performance is dependent on various factors like its class and compatibility. Also the capability of your phone is directly proportional to its performance and speed. It should be noted that not all of them work fine with an Android phone or tablet. Let’s checkout some of the factors that should be kept in mind while choosing one for your Android device.
Essentially there are two categories of microSD cards, one being SDHC and the other SDXC. The primary difference is the capacity range and a SDHC card’s capacity varies in the range of 2GB-32GB. On the other hand, a SDXC card’s range is in excess of 32GB and can go up to 2TB.
In perspective, the number of songs you can store on a SDHC card, with an average mp3 song file being about 3 MB, is more than 10,000!
When you decide to buy one online, you’ll find lot of information that is appended along with the brand name. For instance, a typical card from a reputed brand could have the name – Brand-Name Memory 32GB Evo MicroSDHC UHS-I Grade 1 Class 10 Memory Card with SD Adapter. That’s quite a lengthy name for an object of its size! However, every aspect of the name denotes important information.
a) ‘32GB’ denotes the storage capacity.
b) ‘MicroSDHC’ denotes the type.
c) ‘UHS-I’ indicates the compatibility with the phone, where UHS stands for Ultra High Speed. In UHS-3 compatible phones, processing speed is much faster.
d) ‘Grade 1’ denotes the levels, going up to 3.
e) ‘Class 10’ refers to the read/write speed of the card, and has the range 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10.
While you might want to go for card with the highest capacity along with maximum speed, it is important to check its compatibility with your phone.
When it comes to the Class, it simply means, a Class 2 card reads and writes data at 2MB per second, and Class 10 card takes a second to process 10MB of data.
Similarly, you also need to check if your phone is UHS compatible or not before choosing the card. Basically it is the speed at which data is transferred to and from the card and UHS cards reach up to 312 MB per second.
While these are some of the essential parameters that you need to check when buying a micro SD card, there are also few manufacturer specifications. Choosing a card based upon the brand name again is an important criterion. When you see a non-branded card that is priced much cheaper, it could mean it’s of low quality.