Thinking of upgrading your phones storage? Great idea memory cards not only extend your phones storage but also provide better protection for your content should anything ever happen to your phone. If your phone ever malfunctions or you need to get a replacement and your information is already saved to a memory card, then you won’t lose anything from your original device.
Memory cards, also referred to as SD cards, are always a good investment when it comes to protecting your information and providing better performance on an Android Smartphone.
In this article I will go over some of the best options available if you are thinking of buying a new memory card for your phone and what SD card will be right for you.
The beginning of this article describes many features and covers a lot of information that you might want to consider when choosing a memory card, and I recommend you read the entire article. If you would like however, you may choose to skip right to the best memory cards that I recommend section, in which I review specific memory cards and why I chose that specific product instead of the many other options available.
First off, memory cards are not as expensive or as complicated as one might think, especially when you are shopping online. Which I usually recommend simply because of the amount of deals you can get on a great memory card.
Size and storage capacity
The hardest thing that you will have to consider when it comes to purchasing a memory card is going to be what size or how much storage comes on the device. Typically the more storage and information it can hold then the more expensive the memory card is going to be. We’ll start out small and work our way up from there.
2GB – the 2GB (gigabyte) memory card is one of the smaller memory cards available. Don’t get any memory card smaller than 2GB. Especially anything that reads MB (megabyte). There are approximately 1000 MB (megabytes) in a single GB (gigabyte). So if you buy a 500MB memory card then it is actually just a ½ GB memory card. Try not to get confused by a big number in front of two letters because the letters are the important part to remember. In order of size it goes KB (kilobytes) then MB (megabytes) then GB (gigabytes) then TB (terabytes). The most common and practical sizes today are GB so when looking for memory cards look for GB behind the number.
Again 2GB were pretty good and pretty common a few years ago but with better technology and better prices for more memory the 2GB memory card is becoming less and less common. I find that you really don’t get the bang for your buck when buying a 2GB memory card. Still Amazon has a few good deals if you want to look into one of the smaller 2GB memory cards.
4GB – this too is becoming less and less common. 4GB just isn’t what it used to be, not with sharper pictures and video which require more and more memory in order to save your information. I still recommend a higher memory card than a 4GB memory card if you want to continue using your memory card well into the future. Good deals are getting harder and harder on 4GB and you can often get double the storage for around the same price so, again I recommend you shop for a higher storage capacity, but Amazon has some decent deals on 4GB memory cards as well, if you’re interested.
8GB – now we are starting to get into a decent size range. I personally recommend that you shop for a higher capacity than 8GB, you can still get a lot more for your money but this size is generally enough for the average phone user.
16GB – Now were talking. The 16GB memory card is what I recommend for the average user. At this point you get the storage amount you need for extended use, and at the next size level memory cards jump up in price, so the 16GB is the best deal for your money. Truly you can get some pretty good deals on 16GB memory cards and the storage size should last the average user through multiple replacement phones as you upgrade to the newer and better phones every couple years. Here are some great deals on Amazon for 16GB memory cards.
32GB – has a minor jump in price between the 16GB but if you take a lot of pictures and videos with your phone and don’t really have a computer to back them up or a computer you can use to do some cleaning on the SD card then you might want to consider a 32GB SD card.
The SanDisk Ultra 32 GB microSD from Amazon or BestBuy is the second choice listed in the recommended section below. You don’t always have a camera with you, but you almost always have your phone with you, and if you plan on taking a lot of pictures and videos, or downloading a lot of media onto your device then the 32 GB is going to be the better choice.
64GB – Time for some over kill. If you don’t want to have to worry about upgrading or buying a new memory card for many years to come and want to be able to take videos, pictures, download movies (which add up quickly), application storage, full phone backups, etc then you just might want to think about a 64GB memory card. Especially when many of the 64GBs come with a lifetime limited warranty as opposed to a just a few years or 5 years. You are going to keep using this memory card long after you replace the phone that you’re thinking of buying it for right now. Eventually 64GB memory cards will be the SD card of choice but as of right now they are more of an investment if you’re thinking of continuous use well into the future.
In a Nutshell, for the average user I recommend investing in an 8GB (good) or 16GB (best) memory card. If, however, you like to or plan on recording lots of videos, taking a lot of pictures, or if you are planning on download a lot of information to your phone then you’re going to need a lot more storage on the device and a 32GB or 64GB might be more of what you’re looking for.
When purchasing a memory card here are some other tips that you might want to consider
SD Cards vs. Micro SD cards
As technology advances devices seem to be getting smaller and smaller. The same goes with memory cards. When buying a memory card make sure that you purchase a Micro SD and or an micro SDHC (High Capacity) Card (previously known as Transflash Cards). They are the types of memory cards that fit into mobile Smartphones. With use of a memory card adapter you can even use the micro SD and micro SDHC cards as regular SD Cards or Mini SD Cards or even Memory Stick Pro Duo Cards. So keep that in mind as well, the Micro SD is the newer and smaller technology and with the help of an adapter can be used on older devices. The standard SD card is most likely going to be phased out eventually. Just something to keep in mind for the long run.
Choose one with Class
When choosing a memory card it is very important that you consider its Class. When I say Class I’m not talking about the adjective meaning stylish excellence I’m talking about speed. Micro SD cards use Class to determine transfer speeds. The Higher the Class the faster the phone will be able to read and write information to and from that SD card.
If you buy a memory card with a Speed Class of 2 (lowest Class) then your phone, camera, or device can only write 2 MB/sec (two megabytes per second). A Class 4 SD card can only write 4 MB/sec, Class 6 is 6 MB/sec, and Class 10 will write 10 megabytes per second.
Some devices won’t even work right if the memory cards Class isn’t high enough. For example if you have a camcorder or video recorder built for a Class 6 memory card and try to use a Class 2 or Class 4 SD card then your videos might error, might be fragmented, read “busy”, or might just error out and not work at all.
So when shopping for an SD card if your given the choice between multiple memory cards of the same size then don’t simply choose the cheapest option because chances are it has a lower Speed Class rating and is not necessarily the better product. You don’t want to have to wait for your pictures to open in your gallery, or wait 5 minutes to transfer photos or videos from your phone to your memory card, and if your camera is HD then you’re going to want to make sure your videos record and save properly to your SD card.
Remember the higher the speed the faster your phone will be able to read and write information to and from that memory card. Speed Class is one of the things taken into consideration when choosing the recommended SD cards mentioned above.
Setting up your storage correctly
Whatever memory card you end up choosing make sure that when you get it and put it into your phone that you set your phone up so that it automatically stores its information directly to the memory card.
This is very important. If you have a memory card and your information is still saving onto your phone then guess what happens if your phone malfunctions… you lose all your stuff! Memory cards add that extra protection should your device fail on its own or if it’s accidently damaged (note: don’t forget to invest in a case for your phone. Memory cards protect your phones information and cases protect your phone).
So when you put your new memory card into your phone make sure you go into your camera, go to settings (usually looks like a little gear icon), select Storage, and make sure that SD card or Memory card is selected. If the option that says “Phone” is selected under the cameras storage settings then the phone is still saving information to your phone and not the memory card, so make sure you change it to the memory card option. I can’t stress that enough. It will save you a lot of frustration should there ever be an issue with your phone.
Moving your stuff to your SD card
Don’t forget to move the stuff that’s already saved onto your phone to your memory card. This is another common thing to forget to do after you get a memory card. You want to make sure that you have that Christmas family picture, or that cute picture of your child laughing, or those car accident photos, or any other important information copied to your memory card (note: and a computer if it’s really important).
Different phones allow you to move information different ways, depending on who made the phone and what operating system it’s currently running on. If you need help moving information from your phone onto your SD card than you can click here.
Unmounting and mounting the SD card
A minor thing I also would like to mention is that when you get your new SD card all you have to do is plug it into your phone, go to the phones Settings, Select Storage (it might say “SD and Phone Storage”), then click on mount SD card. If the phone says “Unmount SD card” then the phone is already reading the memory card and you’re good to go.
Remember that if you ever want to remove your memory card from the device you should go into the storage and tap “Unmount SD card” so that you can remove it safely. You can also power the phone off all the way and then remove the memory card. If you just pull the memory card out without doing one of these two things there is a chance that you can hurt the memory card.
So now that you know what to look for when buying a memory card here are some of my recommendations and why I chose them over the many others available.
#1 Choice is the SanDisk Ultra 16 GB MicroSDHC Class 10 Memory Card with Adapter
This memory card is the perfect storage solution for the average user and is my number one pick when recommending which memory card to choose for your smartphone.
These are just a few of the reasons why:
- Price, this memory card costs less than $15.00 US Dollars if you buy it online and less than $20.00 if you get it at the store! It’s a terrific bargain for the price.
- 16 GB is a good amount of storage for the average user, not too much and not too little.
- Class 10, fastest micro SD card you can get at the moment which means you won’t have any trouble transferring data or saving your information. And if you want to pull it out of your phone and use it for a while in your HD Camera then it’s perfect for HD video recording.
- SanDisk is a good strong brand who is well established and is a global leader in flash memory storage.
- UHS-1 enabled, which means the card has a minimum write speed of 10Mbytes per second intended for recording streaming video content. This feature is a lot like its high Class speed and performance.
- Shock proof, water-proof, temperature proof. This memory card is going to last longer than your phone and can be reused in many replacement phones down the road. If you ever drop your phone in water or if you accidently drop it on a hard surface and break your phone you should be able to just unplug this card from your damaged phone plug it into your replacement and be up and running in a matter of minutes, which means not only additional storage but additional security for your information.
- Lifetime Limited Warranty, this feature is actually one of my favorite features. Your phone might only come with a one year warranty but this card is so durable it’s covered with a lifetime limited warranty! Very hard to beat that, and since it’s interchangeable you’re going to be able to use it on your smartphones for many years to come.
- SD adapter included, which means that you can turn this Micro SD into a regular SD and plug it into the card reader on most computers and laptops. If you don’t want to plug your phone into the computer with a data cable to transfer your information then just use the adapter and your set.
Where to get this card?
Now for the fun part! Shopping for the best prices.
#1 place is Amazon. When buying electronics and phone accessories, the best place to shop is usually online, and one of the best places with the best deals online is Amazon.com. If you can wait a few days for your memory card to arrive then I recommend checking out the SanDisk Ultra 16 GB MicroSDHC Class 10 Memory Card with Adapter at Amazon First. Read the reviews on the card too. I’m not the only one who recommends it. Currently it has a customer review rating of 4.3 / 5 Stars.
Here is the catch with getting this specific item on Amazon. Since the price is so awesome, it is eligible for Amazons “FREE Super Saver Shipping” BUT you have to spend over $25 $35 to qualify. So… if you need a Case or Screen Protector (Which I most certainly recommend you invest in if you haven’t already, even more so then a memory card in my most humble opinion) make sure to get it while on Amazon ordering your Memory card. Bundle them together to get free shipping, get the most bang for your buck and get the highest quality products. Win, Win, Win. If you need to get a case for your device look into an OtterBox a little more expensive but you most certainly get what you pay for. OtterBox is one of the most well respected Smartphone case brands today. If you’re looking for a Screen Protector then check out Zagg and its invisibleSHIELD. But I digress.
2nd best place I would recommend if you just can’t wait to get your card and start filling it with information would be to order it on BestBuy.com in which you can choose to run down to the store and pick it up or have it shipped to you. Best Buy has the memory card listed at a higher price than Amazon, which is why I recommend Amazon as the #1 place to purchase this SD card, as the price difference has grown over time, but Best Buy offers free shipping or of course store pickup. This same memory card has an even higher customer review rating on Best Buy’s website with a rating of 4.8 / 5 Stars.
If you can’t find another accessory or item (which you should be able to, you can find just about anything on Amazon) or if you just don’t feel like choosing something else to bundle with your order for the free shipping Amazon is still going to be the cheaper option due to the price difference. Unless you need your memory card as quickly as possible and want to order it online through Best Buy and then run down to your local store and pick it up the same day, I recommend choosing Amazon as it’s one of the most affordable options available.
#2 Choice of memory card is the SanDisk Ultra 32 GB microSDHC Class 10 Memory Card with Adapter
Pretty much the exact same specifications as the choice above, as it comes with an SD adapter, it has a Lifetime Limited Warranty, Its durable being Shock proof, water-proof & temperature proof, its UHS-1 enabled and it’s a Class 10 for the fastest speed.
The difference lies in two features,
The size and storage capacity is double that of the 16GB mentioned above. So if you plan on recording videos, taking lots of pictures, downloading content, etc. on a regular basis then you might want to consider getting the Ultra 32 GB microSDHC.
It’s Price. This memory card has double the storage and is approximately double the price.
Price Update (October 2013): Amazon lowered the price on the SanDisk Ultra 32 GB MicroSDHC it is now under 25$. I just bought this exact card for my new phone from Amazon and I love it. A few extra dollars was well worth it for double the amount of storage. I intend to own this card for a long time and plan to use it to store data for many of my phones throughout the future. Plus I bundled a DVD with it and got the free shipping.
If you take the advice in this article and apply it then you shouldn’t have any problems choosing and using a new memory card for your Android Smartphone. Make sure to take lots of pictures and enjoy.