Between music, photos and video, I have a lot of media files. I store some of them on my phone, but there’s really only so far you can get when the average device maxes out at 16 or 32GB of internal storage. Cloud storage helps, but on a flight, for instance, I like to have the movies of my choice at my fingertips, rather than having to watch The Notebook (again).
Luckily, SanDisk’s latest microSDXC card raises the threshold for storage to 128GB, making it possible to carry your entire media library with you in a form factor no bigger than your pinky nail. It’s a little pricey, but if you’re looking for a convenient way to gain a ton of additional mobile storage and you have a device than can take advantage of it, it’s well worth it.
Design and compatibility
If you’ve ever seen a microSD card before, then you know that they’re extremely tiny. That’s mostly a good thing, since they really don’t add any weight or size when plugged into a device. On the other hand, that also makes them pretty easy to lose, especially if you have a small mason jar filled with different capacity cards like I do.
Unfortunately, SanDisk decided to go with a traditional black design for this card, rather than the red stripe on some of its other cards. That makes it a little less easy to find if you drop it on the floor. This is just nitpicky, though. Most people aren’t likely to switch between microSD cards on a regular basis.
The card comes with an adapter that allows you to use it in any SD slot, so it’ll work with digital cameras and be easily readable in computers. The adapter can also handle standard microSD and microSDHC cards.
I was a little worried about compatibility. Pretty much all smartphones and tablets officially support the microSDHC standard, which maxes out at 32GB.
MicroSDXC is a newer standard that allows these tiny memory cards to support larger amounts of storage (all the way up to 2TB!). But while most smartphones only officially list support for cards up to 32GB, I haven’t had much trouble getting them to recognize my 64GB card over the last couple of years (though there have been a few exceptions). Luckily, I didn’t experience any compatibility problems with the 128GB card.
The card worked just fine in an Android-based Sony Xperia Z Ultra smartphone and a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. I also had no trouble using it with an Apple MacBook Air or a Sony Google TV. One interesting thing to note, though: The MacBook Air was able to read 127.82GB of available space, while the Android devices were only able to see 119GB.
The SanDisk Ultra is a class 10 UHS-I card. According to SanDisk, it is up to twice as fast as ordinary microSD cards. I tested its read and write speeds using the A1 SD Bench benchmark on Android and Xbench on Mac. SanDisk touts up to 30MB/s read speeds, which the card was actually able to surpass. Write speeds were closer to 15MB/s, which is still plenty fast.
It isn’t quite as speedy as SanDisk’s Extreme cards, which can hit read speeds of 80MB/s and write up to 50MB/s. Essentially, the faster a card is, the faster you’ll be able to transfer files. It can also impact things like camera speed, allowing you to capture more frames per second than a slower card. The 128GB card should be fast enough for just about everyone, and I had no trouble recording 1080p video directly to it.
Is it worth it?
With issues of speed and compatibility out of the way, the only thing that might stop you from picking up a new 128GB card is its price. The card has an MSRP of $199.99, which is pretty steep. But you can get it from Amazon or Best Buy for $119.99, which is still pricey, but a lot more reasonable.
The 128GB card is more expensive than buying a couple of 64GB cards, which you can get for about $45 apiece. But I’d say that extra $30 is worth the convenience of not having to swap out cards constantly.
You can also rationalize it this way: A 128GB card isn’t nearly as expensive as paying for more internal storage for your device upfront. Most smartphones cost an extra $100 to move from 16GB to 32GB variants. So if you have a ton of media, SanDisk’s 128GB microSDXC doubles the amount of storage previously available to you on a memory card. It might not be the cheapest storage solution, but for many people, it will be the best.