Lexar 32GB Class 10 microSDHC Memory Card Review


At this year's CES, we learned that Lexar was about to release a new high-speed 32GB Class 10 microSDHC memory card for mobile devices. Even though there are other brands of 32GB microSDHC cards on the market for about a year now, most are rated at Class 2 or Class 4 speeds, though Patriot and WinTec both make ones rated at Class 10.

As smartphones have now become commonplace in today’s society, so is carrying around all of your pictures, videos, music, and work documents on them. Even though smartphones come with some user accessible internal memory, most of them are also relying on external memory, in the form of microSDHC cards, to be the main point of storage. Up until last year, the largest microSDHC memory cards were 16GB, but when the 32GB models came out, they were nearly $200 and limited to Class 2 speeds. Thankfully as time went by, prices began to come down and speed ratings started to go up.

The Lexar 32GB microSDHC memory card (model LSDMI32GBSBNAR) is the newest to be released for 2011 and features a Class 10 rating, which the manufacturer claims should be capable of a minimum sustained write speed of 10 MB per second and a read speed up to 20 MB per second. It is listed for $149 on the Lexar site, but looking around we found it for a more reasonable $103 on Amazon. Also included in the retail package is a small USB thumb drive adapter for connecting the memory card right to a PC’s USB port. We like having this added convenience, but the included thumb drive adapter is made out of plastic and feels cheap and very flimsy. A few times when we went to plug it into our PC, the plastic end felt like it could break without too much force. Coming pre-loaded on the Lexar memory card is a program called MediaMove, which you can elect to install on your PC. With it, you can have the program locate all of your media files on your PC and have it transfer them to the phone’s memory card, as well as backing-up media files from your memory card to your PC. It is a nice program to have, especially for a beginner, but we would imagine that most people reading this probably know how to manually transfer files between their PC and phone’s memory card.


We’ve been using a Motorola DROID X Android smartphone for a few months now, which came with a no-name-brand Japan 16GB Class 4 microSDHC memory card pre-installed. Over time, we’ve become accustomed to how long it takes for pictures and videos to save and load on the card, as well as transferring to and from our PC.

To begin with, we copied all the data from this 16GB card to the new Lexar 32GB card, so that both would contain all the same files, pictures, videos, music, etc, which came to about 7GB of data.

For our first tests, we took a few pictures using the DROID X with the 16GB Class 4 card installed, auto-review mode turned off, and they saved in about a second. Then when going into the Gallery, it took about 3 seconds for the picture thumbnails to appear. The same was also true when accessing all of the saved videos. But when we changed out the 16GB memory card and used the Lexar 32GB Class 10 card, we noticed that pictures saved a bit faster, under a second, and when going into the Gallery they loaded with almost no delay. Right then, we could tell that the Lexar Class 10 card was performing better.

Real-world Test 1: We transferred a 1GB file to and from the 16GB and 32GB memory cards while using the Lexar thumb drive adapter installed in our PC’s USB port. The Lexar Class 10 card took 1 minute 35 seconds to write the 1GB of data to the card (10.7 MB/s), while the Japan Class 4 card took 2 minutes to write the same amount of data (8.5 MB/s). Then when transferring the 1GB of data from the memory card back to the PC, the Lexar Class 10 card only took 42 seconds (24.3 MB/s), while the Japan Class 4 card took 1 minute 15 seconds (13.6 MB/s). As you can see, the Lexar card is capable of some fast transfers while using the thumb drive adapter.

Real-world Test 2: We used the same 1GB file transfer as in Test 1, but this time around the memory card was installed in the DROID X and was connected to our PC using a microUSB data cable while placing the phone into Mass Storage mode. When using the Lexar Class 10 card, it took 1 minute 49 seconds to write the 1GB of data to the card (9.4 MB/s), while the Japan Class 4 card took 2 minutes 10 seconds (7.8 MB/s). Then when transferring the 1GB of data back to the PC, the Lexar Class 10 card took 1 minute 15 seconds (13.6 MB/s), while the Japan Class 4 card took 1 minute 20 seconds (12.8 MB/s). Because the data was transferred to and from the PC via USB cable while the memory card was in the phone, we saw a bit of a speed loss, though it is unclear if it is caused by the hardware of the DROID X or the Android 2.2 OS.

Our next set of tests is more regulated, as programs were used to measure data rates and speed results.

Benchmark A
: For the first benchmark test, we wanted to see the data rates (MB per Second) for both cards within the Android 2.2 environment while using the DROID X. We used an Android app called System Benchmark by AnTuTu, which measures various speeds on the phone, including the write and read times of the memory card. We preformed the test 3 times in a row on both cards and got the following results. The Lexar Class 10 got write times of 4.9 MB/s, 8.6 MB/s and 9.0 MB/s, with read times of 11.1 MB/s, 10.7 MB/s and 10.5 MB/s. This is quite a bit off from the 10 MB/s write and 20 MB/s read times that Lexar claimed their card is capable of, but again this may be due to the AnTuTu Benchmark program, or the hardware used on the DROID X. Meanwhile, the Japan Class 4 card came up with slower write times of 4.2 MB/s, 7.2 MB/s and 7.4 MB/s, and read times of 9.0 MB/s, 9.3 MB/s and 9.4 MB/s.

Benchmark B
: The next Android app we used was Quadrant, which doesn’t specify the actually speed of the memory card, but does tests several things, including memory I/O, and then gives an overall score of the phone. When using the Lexar Class 10 card in the DROID X, the phone got overall scores of 1428, 1456, and 1467. Then when using the Japan Class 4 card, the overall phone scores were 1430, 1443, and 1454. Based on this, the difference in Class rating on the memory cards didn’t have much effect in the Quadrant benchmark scores of the phone.

Benchmark C
: At this point, we wanted to see some benchmark tests performed that didn’t rely on an Android app, so we used PC program called ATTO Disk Benchmark. For this test, we kept the memory card installed in the DROID X, and connected it to the PC using the microUSB data cable with phone in Mass Storage mode (similar to what we did real-world test 2). The Lexar Class 10 card got a max write speed of 11.3 MB/s, and a read 12.4 MB/s. We were please to see a write speed here of 11.3 MB/s, but the write speed of 12.4 MB/s is still far below the 20 MB/s claim that Lexar says the card is capable of. While doing the same ATTO tests with the Japan Class 4 card, it got a max write speed of 9.5 MB/s and a read speed of 12.9 MB/s, which is pretty close to the Lexar card.

Benchmark D
: For our final benchmark, we wanted to test both memory cards on their own; outside of the phone environment. We used the same ATTO Disk Benchmark program, but this time used the Lexar thumb drive adapter plugged into our PC’s USB port. This way we were able to see what the ATTO program says about the memory card directly. We were glad to find that the Lexar Class 10 card did achieve a max write speed of 11.0 MB/s and read speed of 20.6 MB/s, which does in fact validate Lexar’s advertised speed claims. The Japan Class 4 card got a max write speed of 9.2 MB/s, and a read speed 14.2MB/s, which is well above average for a Class 4 memory card.


So what does all these number mean? First off, the Lexar 32GB Class 10 card is fast, and is capable of a minimum sustained write speed of 10 MB/s and read speed of 20 MB/s when the memory card is directly connected to a PC, such as by using the included thumb drive adapter. In our testing we saw a 10 MB/s write and 24 MB/s read speed when copying a 1GB file to the Lexar card while installed in the thumb drive adapter, and up to 11 MB/s write 20 MB/s read speeds when using the ATTO Disk Benchmark program. But for whatever reason, all of the speed and benchmark tests were not as fast once the Lexar card was installed in the Motorola DROID X, as the AnTuTu System Benchmark Android app only showed a max write speed of 9.0 MB/s and a dismal read speed of 11.1 MB/s, while the ATTO PC program showed a write speed of 11.3 MB/s and a read speed of 12.4 MB/s

It is clear that there is some speed loss once the memory card is placed in the DROID X, though it is unclear if it is caused by the phone’s hardware or the Android 2.2 operating system. Furthermore, other phones may not have this issue, so it’s best to test the phone you are using. But regardless, the Lexar 32GB Class 10 card still preformed better than the Japan 16GB Class 4 card that came included with the Motorola DROID X.

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Based on our results, we are overall quite pleased with the Lexar 32GB Class 10 microSDHC memory card, as it provides a lot of storage room for all your files, and proved to be faster than our current generic 16GB Class 4 card. The $149 price from the manufacturer seems high, but you can find it elsewhere for about $100, which is more competitively priced to other 32GB microSDHC memory cards on the market. Just keep in mind that if you're going to transfer a large amount of files, you might want to remove the memory card from the phone first and use the thumb drive to get the best speeds, as there may be some bottlenecking when connecting the phone directly to a PC with a USB cable.

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