The era of 1TB microSD cards is here. Micron and Western Digital both announced 1TB microSDXC UHS-I cards at MWC Barcelona 2019. Micron's is called the Micron c200 1TB microSDXC UHS-I, which is as descriptive as it is easy to remember, while Western Digital's offering will be sold as the SanDisk Extreme microSDXC UHS-I.
Our need for more storage rises in step with the capabilities of the computers in our pockets, so it's no longer enough to store a few gigabytes worth of data. Now we're playing graphically intense games, shooting 4K video, and storing other content on our phones. As such, both cards are primarily meant for use in smartphones.
As Micron said in its press release about the new 1TB card:
“Micron’s technology leadership in 3D NAND with CMOS under the array and 96-layer QLC has been instrumental in developing and launching the world’s first 1TB microSD card,” said Aravind Ramamoorthy, senior director of NAND solutions for Micron's Embedded Business Unit. “The new c200 1TB microSD card gives consumers the freedom to capture, share, store and enjoy more content while supporting their mobile-centric lifestyles.”
It also isn't enough to offer high capacity storage--otherwise, people would be content to connect external hard drives to their phones. Storage has to be small enough to fit into the phone itself, have a high enough capacity to handle everything we want to store and be fast enough that we don't grow impatient.
These cards are supposed to meet all those criteria. They fit everywhere a microSDXC card does boast up to 1TB of storage, and offer up to 100MB/s read and 95MB/s write (Micron), or 160MB/s read and 90MB/s write (Western Digital) speeds. That's said to be fast enough to handle 4K UHD video recording and playback easily.
Both cards also meet the A2 Application Performance Class specification, which means they're fine to use for mobile apps. As we said, they should be good-to-go for data-hungry smartphones.
Micron said it plans to release the Micron c200 1TB microSDXC UHS-I card in 2Q19; it didn't reveal pricing information. Western Digital plans to release the SanDisk Extreme microSDXC UHS-I in April 2019 in two capacities, 512GB and 1TB, for a respective $200 and $450. The card's available to reserve on SanDisk's website.
That price discrepancy highlights the fact that the era of 1TB microSD cards is really only beginning. Most people aren't going to spend $450 on 1TB of storage--especially as prices for desktop storage continue to fall--instead of buying the $200 offering. Enthusiasts will, of course, but the average consumer won't.
Still, it won't be too long until the price of the 1TB card falls in line with the 512GB offering. People are getting too data-hungry (and too used to paying a pittance for storage) for prices to remain that high for too long. This is a glimpse at the future, not a sign that everyone will have 1TB microSD cards in a month.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.