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Given two memory cards of the same capacity and same class, the only technical difference I know is that micro SD cards work on any device, thanks to the adapter, while Macro SDs will work only in devices with a Macro SD slot.

Is the price difference justified by something else? Maybe are Macros more performing/reliable/else than Micros?

I'm asking this because

I need a card for my Raspberry Pi. I chose a 32GB class 10. I have no reason to prefer a Micro, my reseller sells them to me at the same price. I'm curious about today's cards performance.

If the technical features of a Micro are exactly the same of a Macro, I expect the Macros to have vanished from the market, but they are still produced and sold

  • 1
    The main advantage is that the maximum capacity full-size SD card you can buy (256+ GB) is a lot higher than the largest Micro SD cards around. Also, the top speeds available tend to be a bit higher for the full-size cards - I suspect this probably due to heat concerns etc. rather than limitations of the data interface which I believe is almost identical. – James P Jan 17 '14 at 11:38
  • This article tested.com/tech/photography/… suggests that generally a full-sized SD ("Macro") is faster than a Micro, except for that specific model – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Jan 17 '14 at 11:42
  • @James thanks but I chose a 32GB. The question wants to compare a 32GB full size with a 32GB micro – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Jan 17 '14 at 11:43
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    You're slightly less likely to lose your macroSD card dropping it down some slot somewhere.. – NickW Jan 17 '14 at 17:29
  • To be pedantic: should your question finish "...a Micro SD in a Macro adapter ?" Apart from the physical size issue, the Micro doesn't have a ReadOnly switch - it needs to be in an adapter to support that. (And yes, I do use that switch...) – John Burger Nov 22 '19 at 11:57
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This is only my opinion, and I'm no expert in this matter but here goes:

Price can be justified by:

Versatility

The MicroSD as you mentioned can fit anywhere with the right adapter, but at the same time it tends to be more expensive. In general the smaller/lighter the item the more expensive they are (laptop vs ultrabook, chunky USB vs sleek slim USB, SD vs microSD)

Speed

Class 10 denotes the minimum speed that the manufacturer has to meet to be able to use the branding of "Class 10" on the card. Manufacturer like Sandisk sells multiple Class 10 cards at different price as they claim it does different speed (eg. Extreme vs Extreme Pro - 45MB/s vs 90MB/s)

Physical Limitation

Some devices are inherently small, and therefore need a smaller solution. One example would be mobile phone. It would be harder for the manufacturer to try to cram a SD card slot on a considerably small mobile phone, but they can cram a MicroSD card slot (or in some cases some phone don't even have MicroSD card slot at all).

Bigger devices (Camera, Camcorder, or older bigger mobile phone) have the physical space to allow for SD card (or even CompactFlash card), so they don't have to do further R&D to make their device smaller, and simply use the available space.

Manufacturing Cost

The MicroSD may (can't say for sure) cost more to produce in comparison to the bigger SD family.

You might go "wait, the smaller the item, the less material they need, the cheaper they should be then?"

I'd say yes normally that is the case, but the miniaturisation of the SD card means the SD card is a whole more smaller, and complex to built. Yes the material used are less, but the manufacturing process will be more difficult than the bigger sized SD card. Hence why even there are using less material, they can cost more.

Also actually we may ends up with more material required to built the SD card. First you need to build the MicroSD card (with the additional complexity), and then you add the MicroSD to SD Converter. Add up those 2 materials you may ends up using more than simply making 1 SD card.

Also now since we have 2 pieces of item (the MicroSD and Converter card), the manufacturer have another point of possible faulty. It used to be "ok faulty card, replace". Now "is it faulty card, or faulty converter?"

I feel SD card is like the Dot Matrix printer.. they won't die anytime soon.

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  • Very high quality answer. I believe (and that's the reason why I asked) that the "added value" and increased market demand of a Micro justify a slight price difference (arguments 1 and 3). That's for me the simplest answer to my question. Simplest sometimes means true. – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Jan 20 '14 at 8:25
  • One more thing to add would be that more macro SD cards support wear leveling, which is more important for use cases like in a rPi than others (like media storage) – user2813274 Mar 22 '15 at 3:44

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