SanDisk, which is now a Western Digital Company, introduced two new beefy 256 GB microSDXC cards at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, China. SanDisk went through a quiet period as it worked out the kinks of its acquisition by WD, but now the company appears to be back to normal operation as it released several new products this week.
SanDisk has not indicated what type of NAND its new capacious cards employ, and the company has not released its new BiCS 3D NAND in any products yet. It is unlikely that BiCS would make its debut in the microSDXC format, so the new cards likely utilize 15nm planar NAND. This is an important distinction, because Samsung manufactures the only competing 256GB microSDXC cards on the market, which employ 3D TLC V-NAND.
The new cards are an evolutionary capacity increase in comparison to the previous-generation 200 GB SanDisk Ultra offerings.
SanDisk Extreme MicroSDXC UHS-I 256 GB
SanDisk claimed the Extreme variant is the fastest card in its class, and the company designed it for intense 4K use cases such as action cameras, drones and 4K-capable smartphones. SanDisk claimed the Extreme features a "data transfer speed" (which we interpret as a read speed metric) up to 100 MB/s, and its sequential write speed is listed at 90 MB/s. SanDisk declined to reveal the write speed of the previous-generation 200 GB Ultra card, likely because it is less than impressive, so the inclusion of the write speed with this model is noteworthy. SanDisk noted that the card can store up to 14 hours of 4K UHD video.
SanDisk indicated that the 256 GB Extreme will retail for $199.99 in Q4 2016, which is significantly less than the $249.99 price tag on the competing Samsung Evo Plus. However, Samsung originally scheduled the Samsung Evo Plus for general availability this month, but it is not for sale at any major retailers (that we can find). Both cards offer a ten-year warranty, but the SanDisk card provides 5 MB/s more of sequential read performance.
SanDisk Ultra Premium Edition MicroSDXC UHS-I 256 GB
SanDisk designed the Ultra Premium Edition for more mundane non-4K workloads, and the company positioned it specifically for Android-based smartphones and tablets by touting that it can hold up to 24 hours of Full HD video. SanDisk listed its transfer speed (sequential read) at 95 MB/s but did not disclose its sequential write speed, which likely indicates anemic performance.
The Ultra microSDXC will come to market in August 2016 with an MSRP of $149.99, and it features a ten-year warranty.
SanDisk indicated that both models feature the usual repertoire of features, such as being waterproof; temperature resistant (-25C to 85C); and X-Ray, magnet and impact proof -- which are fairly standard qualities of all microSDXC cards. Both cards also support the SanDisk Memory Zone app for Android devices.