Different types of memory cards and sticks – Quick guide
There are different types of memory cards, so it can be a bit confusing when you’re looking to expand the storage capacity of your brand new mobile phone. Music phones, mobile phones and smartphones are very fun, but they don’t usually come with much internal memory. Here is a brief overview of the common formats used by mobile phones.
Types of memory cards
Almost all types of memory cards use solid state flash technology. Unlike hard drives on your computer, NAND flash memory has no moving parts. This is crucial for mobile devices (such as mobile phones), because they are prone to shake what would otherwise cause reading errors. The following types of memory cards are not mobile phone-specific; they are also used in digital cameras, PDAs, MP3 players and various other portable devices.
Secure Digital (SD)
The Secure Digital family of memory cards paved the way for Sandisk, Toshiba and Panasonic. The format is regulated by the SD Association and was originally conceived as an extension of the MultiMediaCard (MMC) format. SD cards are slightly thicker and clearly have faster reading speeds than their MMC counterparts. Along the way, several variants emerged:
SD: The standard SD card is about the same size as a stamp, usually measuring from 32 mm to 24 mm to 2.1 mm. There are also high-speed versions, which are particularly suitable for high-speed digital cameras.
MiniSD: These cards have about half the footprint of their standard-sized counterparts. Its potential, both in terms of speed and capacity, is also significantly lower. For more information about miniSD, see our main article on formatting.
MicroSD: Also known as TransFlash (TF) in the realm of mobile phones, microSD cards are the size of a nail and are available in capacity up to 2GB. It is currently one of, if not the most popular memory card expansion format for various mobile phones.
SDIO: For “secure digital input-output”, these tabs are not normally used for memory expansion (although they can extract the dual function in this regard), rather than being implemented on PDA and smartphones to add additional functionality (WiFi connectivity is the most common).
Used only with Sony products, the Memory Stick range of multimedia cards is commonly implemented in Sony’s CyberShot digital cameras, sony Clie PDS and Sony Ericsson mobile phones. Most formats are available as a “Pro” variant, which offers significantly faster reading and writing speeds and superior capacity.
Memory Stick: Measuring almost the same as a chewing stick, this format is available in capacity up to 8 gigabytes, but it’s usually too big for today’s mobile phones.
Memory Stick Duo: About half the size of a standard Memory Stick, the Memory Stick Pro Duo is very popular among Sony Ericsson Walkman and PlayStation Portable phones.
Memory Stick Micro: The smallest of the group, this is a really micro format (known as M2).
While the SD and Memory Stick family cards dominate the mobile phone market these days, there are a few other formats you may need to look for, depending on your chosen mobile phone. The most notable is the RS-MMC, or small MultiMedia tab. Also available in a dual voltage variant (RS-DV-MMC), these stamp-sized cards are commonly found on a number of Nokia mobile phones.
Some other types of memory cards that you can find include Compact Flash (CF, I and II), MicroDrives and MMCmicro cards. These should not be confused with Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards found on GSM-based mobile phones, as SIM cards are used to associate the phone with your mobile account. Photo:Pixabay