If you’re in the market for an SD or MicroSD card, you may have seen gadgets that look like an SD card but are labeled as a MicroSD adapter.
If you’ve never used one of these gadgets, you may wonder what they are and how to use them.
Are they necessary gadgets, or do you need them in specific cases?
We take a look at everything you need to know about microSD adapters.
Why Do You Need An Adapter For A Micro SD Card?
You need an adapter for a microSD card if you want to use your card in a device without a MicroSD slot.
It looks like an SD card with a slot to house the microSD card.
An adapter works like a bridge that provides contact points between the MicroSD card and reader slots on the host device, be it a computer, a camera, or a GPS device.
Some of these adapters have lock mechanisms that prevent you from accidentally writing over your previously stored data.
MicroSD Vs. SD Cards
Secure Digital (SD) cards and microSD cards are two solutions that help extend device storage.
While the former has been around since 1999, the latter appeared in 2005 to solve the space shortage in mobile devices.
Before introducing microSD, mini-SD cards were offered to solve the size issue, but they were still not small enough to give users noticeable advantages.
The main difference between the two is their form factor, and as the name suggests, microSD cards are smaller than SD cards.
While a typical SD card measures 24 mm X 32 mm X 2.1 mm (0.94” x 1.26” x 0.083” to 0.055”), a standard microSD card measures 15 mm x 11 mm x 1 mm (0.56” x 0.43” x 0.039”).
In addition to their size, these two forms of digital storage have different applications.
For example, you can find SD cards in digital cameras, video-game consoles, security cameras, e-book readers, MP3 players, AV equipment, handheld computers, etc.
On the other hand, you’re more likely to find a microSD card in smartphones, drones, dash cameras, etc.
The larger form factor also means larger data capacity.
While an SD card can be a maximum of 2 TB (depending on the type), a microSD card can only reach a maximum capacity of 512 GB because of the smaller form factor.
That’s why it’s used in devices with lower storage demands.
However, they’re not different in speed and functionality, both offering the same benefits, only in different sizes.
That said, SD cards have an interesting feature that prevents the owner from accidentally writing data over them.
For example, if you have valuable data on your SD card and don’t want to lose the data, you can use the locking mechanism on the SD card.
When you toggle this lock, you can never override data stored on the SD card.
MicroSD Card Features
If you look at a microSD card carefully, you can see different markings on the card.
These markings show the card’s features, which can help you make better purchases and make sure the card is compatible with your device.
Even if you don’t find these markings on the card, you should look for them in the product’s specifications and match them with your device’s requirements.
Otherwise, you can’t use it.
For example, if your device doesn’t support a storage size of more than a certain threshold, it won’t recognize the card.
These features also come in handy when choosing a microSD adapter because some adapters may not be able to read a specific type of microSD card.
Here are the main MicroSD card specs:
1. Storage Capacity
Memory capacity is the most straightforward feature because it’s displayed as a number followed by MB or GB.
However, GB is more common because of technological advances, making storage capacities much bigger.
You may also get 1TB microSD cards, but you need to make sure your device supports it.
2. Size Class
In addition to the exact storage capacity, a MicroSD card typically displays other markings that show its size range or class.
Knowing these storage classes allow you to determine the format of the card and the devices you can use it on.
There are five size classes for SD, mini, and microSD cards:
- SD/SDSC. Secure Digital Standard Capacity indicates the card fall within a category of cards with a maximum storage range of 2 GB.
- SDHC. Secure Digital High Capacity indicates a range of 2–32 GB.
- SDXC. Secure Digital High Capacity ranges between 32 GB and 2 TB.
- SDUC. Secure Digital Ultra Capacity indicates 2–128 TB, which is not that common.
SDSC cards can only be formatted as FAT12, FAT16, and FAT16B, while most SDHC cards only use FAT32.
SDXC and SDHC cards only use the exFAT format and are suitable for storing large files, such as videos.
There’s also a fifth category, SDIO (Secure Digital Input Output), which is new and has functions other than pure storage.
These cards can work as a GPS or Bluetooth receiver or provide other functions, depending on the design.
3. Speed Class
The speed class refers to the maximum speed at which a card can transfer data, making each class suitable for specific purposes.
This class is represented in the form of a number, with larger numbers showing higher read/write speeds, and you can see it as a number in a circle on the SD card.
Here are the class ratings specified by the SD Association:
- Class 2 has a minimum speed of 2 MB/s and is suitable for standard definition playback or recording.
- Class 4 has a minimum speed of 4 MB/s and is suitable for 720p/1080p video playback and recording.
- Class 6 has a minimum speed of 6 Mb/s and is suitable for 720p/1080p/4K videos and basic JPEGs.
- Class 10 has a minimum speed of 10 MB/s and is suitable for 720p/1080p/4K video playback and recording, burst shooting, and raw photography.
UHS (Ultra Speed) is higher than the numbered ratings and is represented differently.
You can see it as a U symbol with either 1 or 3 inside.
These numbers indicate the card is a Class 1 or Class 2 UHS type.
Class 1 cards have 10 MB/s of speed (like class 10), and class 3’s minimum speed is 30 MB/s.
You can mostly see the UHS speed rating on SDHC and SDXC cards, and it has three versions: UHS-I, UHS-II, and UHS-III.
4. Bus Speed
You may or may not find the bus speed class on your card, which isn’t necessary to know.
However, if you wonder what each number means, here’s what to know.
The bus speed refers to the maximum speed at which data can be transferred between the SD card and the host device.
Here are the bus speed categories:
- DS (Default Speed): 12.5 MB/s
- HS (High Speed): 25 MB/s
- UHS-I: 50–104 MB/s
- UHS-II: 156–312 MB/s
- UHS-III: 312–624 MB/s
There’s also a sixth class, SD Express, with two types.
One can transfer data at the speed of between 985 and 1,969 MB/s, and the other has a speed of 1,969–3,964 MB/s.
However, the SD Express and the UHS-III types aren’t available because there are no devices that support them.
What Does A MicroSD Adapter Do?
MicroSD cards and SD cards have the same pinout connections and underlying architecture.
SD and MicroSD cards differ primarily in form factor and capacity, making them suitable for different devices.
Still, MicroSD cards seem to be more popular among users because they’re more versatile than SD cards, meaning you can use them on a broader range of devices.
That’s not because more devices are compatible with MicroSD cards.
Instead, they become compatible with more devices thanks to adapters.
MicroSD card adapters look like SD cards with a sleeve inside them that houses the MicroSD card and allows you to insert it into SD slots.
The adapter works as a medium to transfer data between the microSD and the device with the SD slot.
Suppose you want to get the photos on your smartphone printed.
If the computer attached to the printer doesn’t have a MicroSD slot, you can simply use your adapter and insert it into the computer.
This feature isn’t available for SD cards.
In other words, you can’t use an SD card in a microSD slot via an adapter.
These adapters come with another feature, too.
Unlike SD cards, microSD cards don’t have a lock to prevent you from accidentally overriding data.
However, if you use an adapter, you can use this feature.
They have a write-protection tab on one side, which can be toggled on and off to allow or disable writing over the microSD card.
However, not all microSD adapters have this feature, so you should pay attention while purchasing.
Many MicroSD cards come bundled with an adapter, allowing the users to overcome size limitations and encouraging them to purchase the card.
Other Ways To Put Micro SD Card In Your Computer
Although MicroSD adapters are a great way to put your microSD card into a computer, it’s not the only way.
Here are some of these options:
1. SD Card Hubs
An SD card hub is a device that connects to your computer via a USB port.
Depending on the model, it can have different slots for different connection types, including microSD, CFexpress, MMC, USB 3.0, HDMI, CompactFlash, XQD, and more.
These hubs also have an SD reader slot, which can help you use it as an extender.
These extenders come in handy when your computer has an SD reader slot, but it’s hard to reach.
A hub can be a useful tool as most modern laptops have done away with many older connectivity ports.
However, they may not have the highest read/write speed, so you may want to consider this feature when purchasing.
UHS-II SD ports are faster than UHS-I, so look for hubs with these ports.
In addition, if the hub comes with a cable, make sure it’s not detachable because hubs that come with a hard-wired cable are difficult to move around and may get damaged.
2. MicroSD USB Adapter
If your computer doesn’t have an SD port, a regular microSD reader will be useless for you.
However, you’re not out of luck as you can use other ways to connect your microSD card to your computer.
A microSD USB adapter is like a hub but only with one port.
This gadget is a dedicated MicroSD reader that connects to your computer via a USB port.
They come in different shapes and sizes, with different read/write speeds.
For example, this SanDisk MobileMate USB 3.0 microSD Card Reader is compact and easy to use.
You just need to insert the card into the slot and plug it into your computer’s USB port.
Plus, it can serve as a USB thumb drive if you keep the microSD card permanently inside it.
3. Use Your Smartphone
If you don’t have access to a MicroSD card reader or hub and you want to transfer your files in an emergency, you can use your smartphone as a reader.
Whether the microSD card belongs to your smartphone or another device, you can transfer your files through your phone.
Simply insert the microSD card into your phone’s microSD slot and connect it to your computer via a USB cable or Bluetooth.
Depending on your phone’s model and make, you may need to tap a specific option on your phone to start the data transfer process.
Your phone will appear as a drive on your computer when you enable the option.
Go to My Computer and click on your phone name.
Find and open the SD card folder to see the files stored on it.
Now, copy or cut your selected files and paste them onto your computer.
How To Use A MicroSD Adapter
Using a microSD card adapter is pretty straightforward as it’s not much different from using other peripherals on a computer.
All you need to do is insert the microSD card into the reader, which you can’t get wrong because there’s only one way of doing that.
The metal contacts on the SD card are organized so that you can only insert the card in one direction.
After putting the card in, you can connect the adapter to the computer by inserting it into the slot.
When Windows recognizes the card as a removable device, it will assign a drive name to it, and you can click on it to explore the files.
How To Use MicroSD Cards On Apple Devices
Although iPhone and iPad don’t have an SD card slot like Android devices, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use a microSD card to transfer your files to or from your Apple device.
The best tool to help you is a microSD adapter with a Lightning port cable.
An adapter like this will do because it’s easy to use, doesn’t need an app to run, and has an SD and microSD reader.
All you need to do is insert the microSD card into the reader and connect it to your iPhone via the Lightning port.
Your device will open the Photos app after recognizing the storage card and asks you to confirm to import data.
If you can’t see this option, you can simply open the Photos app and select Import at the bottom.
How To Choose A MicroSD Adapter
Since microSD cards store valuable data, mainly photos and videos, you may wonder if the brand or model of a MicroSD adapter can affect the quality of pictures or the speed of file transfer.
Adapters are passive devices, so they can’t affect data storage and transfer quality and speed.
They work like a bridge connecting your microSD card to the host device’s reader through their contact points.
However, cheaper brands may not work with all microSD cards or readers because they can’t provide a perfect one-on-one contact via their interfaces.
Therefore, it’s advisable to buy an adapter from a reputable brand.
This way, you’ll minimize the chances of the adapter misbehaving or even getting deformed inside the device.
In addition, some microSD cards need their own adapters and don’t work with every SD to microSD converter.
However, if you have an adapter made by a reputable brand, you may be able to use it with those microSD cards.