If you’re looking for a SD card reader for your iPhone or iPhone, then the official one from Apple is probably your best option.
In this Apple lightning SD card camera reader review, I’m going to talk about why I bought this card, it’s performance, and how it compares to a third party lightning SD card reader I bought off of Amazon.
Model: MJYT2AM/A or A1595 (Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader)
Cards Supported: SD, SDHC, mini and micro SD w/adapter, MMC
Transfer Speeds: USB 2.0, (USB 3.0 with iPad Pro only)
Purchasing Link*: Amazon
*You should assume I will make a commission if you click on this or any other link and make a purchase
Why I Bought the Apple Lightning SD Card Reader
I purchased this SD card reader to keep in my car in case I need to pull some footage off my dash cam while I’m away from home and view it or copy it to my iPhone. The best example I can give you is if I happened to be in an accident and wanted to play the video for a cop who arrived at the scene.
Although, my dash cam has WIFI capability, it can be slow downloading footage over it. Additionally, a firmware update bricked the WIFI and I haven’t felt like messing around with it to get the WIFI capabilities back.
My dash cam takes a micro SD card, so I needed a reader that I could plug it into. While this Apple SD card reader only has an SD slot, most of my micro SD cards come with a micro SD to SD adapter that fits, and works, with the Apple SD card reader.
I previously bought a third-party lightning adapter that had a micro SD, SD, and a USB port on it. At first it worked fine, but then it started randomly disappearing from my iPhone “Files” app and I threw in the towel with it when I couldn’t get it to connect at all or when it did connect it would instantly disconnect
How to Use the Apple Lightning SD Card Reader
Using the Apple SD card reader with your iPhone/iPad is pretty straight forward. You plug it into the lightning port on your device, plug the SD card into the reader, or the SD card adapter if you’re using one, open up the “Files” app on your device and you’ll see the reader appear.
If your iPhone or iPad is locked, then you’ll receive the message “USB Accessory Unlock iPhone to use accessories” on your device’s lock screen.
In my personal experience, it shows up as “Untitled” under “Locations”, but this most likely because I don’t give the partition on my micro SD cards a name. If you named the partition on your SD card, then the name you gave it will likely appear.
After your SD card shows up in “Locations”, then you simply click on it and browse to whatever file you want to access. From there you are able to view it, copy it to your device, edit it, etc.
When you’re done with it, you just simply disconnect the reader from your phone. I like to navigate all the way back to the r “Browse” page. This is the page with the “Locations” setting. You can either click back through all the folders or you can just click on the “Browse” button at the bottom of the “Files” app.
I’m probably being superstitious, but I don’t really like the idea of disconnecting the card reader from my phone while I have a file open in the Files app. Apple is pretty good about dummy proofing their devices, but I would rather not risk corrupting one of my files by having it open when I disconnect the reader.
Apple Lightning SD Card Reader Performance
Lifewire lists the transfer speed of a lightning connection as “up to 480Mbps“. If you divide by 8, you get up to 60MB/s.
This roughly falls into line with my experience while testing the device, but I never really got over 45MB/s copying a file over in my limited, and crude, testing method of just dividing the size of a file by the time it took to copy it.
Note: The Amazon listing for this reader (affiliate link) says it does support USB 3.0 speeds, but it’s exclusive to the iPad Pro. You have to look hard for it, but the box lists USB 3 on the bottom of it.
I bet if you had a lightning to USB 3 adapter, then you would get faster speeds plugging it into a computer than plugging into Apple devices other than the iPad pro.
How Long Does It Take to Copy Files Back and Forth?
I copied a 452MB file to my iPhone 12 running IOS 15 in about 10 seconds. This is roughly a 45MB/s transfer rate which is less than half the rated transfer speed of my SanDisk High Endurance 256GB micro SD card.
The same file took about 5 seconds to transfer to my laptop computer that has a NVMe hard drive using a USB-C SD card reader plugged into a USB 3.0 port.
If you’re going to be copying a lot of files, then I would recommend just copying them directly to your computer, unless of course, you need all those files on your iPhone or iPad.
Ideally, you would copy them using a USB3.0 or later port, otherwise you’re stuck with about the same speed as you have with the SD card reader.
Copying a file from my iPhone to the micro SD card
It took about 15 seconds to transfer the same 452MB file back to my micro SD card, so about 50% longer than it took to copy the file to my phone.
Transfer Speeds Copying to Other MicroSD Cards
I did test a few other micro SD cards out that I had lying around. They all copied the file to my phone in about 10 seconds.
However, It took about 41 seconds to copy the file to a 128GB SanDisk Extreme Plus micro SD card and 28 seconds to copy it to a 128GB Samsung Pro Endurance card from my phone.
I’m not really sure why those cards were slower, but I’m going to try to delete all the files and/or format them and see if I get the same speeds afterwards.
Can You Play Videos Using the SD Card Reader?
Yes, you can play videos on a SD card that is plugged into your iPhone/iPad, but I’ve noticed some strange behavior while doing so.
When I first plug a card in and try to play a video, the video stutters and freezes quite a bit. In fact, any video I select on the card has this issue.
If I wait a few minutes, then the videos play smoothly without issue. Also, I’m able to scrub through the video to different points and it will start playing at the new point without any issues.
I don’t know what causes the stuttering or freezing, but it only seems to happen when I first view a card with the reader. If I unplug the card and plug it back in, then I don’t have the stuttering or freezing issues.
However, if I plug a new card in that’s never been plugged into my iPhone with the reader before, then I have the same freezing and stuttering issue until a few minutes pass.
I suspect this initial slowness is due to the iPhone either caching some content or possibly even generating thumbnails for the videos, but I’m not 100% certain.
What Cards Are Supported?
According to the user manual, SD, SDHC, mini and micro SD with adapter, and mmc cards are all supported by the Apple SD card camera reader.
Apple SD Card Camera Reader vs Third-Party SD Card Reader
My experience with the Apple SD card reader has been WAY better than the third-party card reader. Like I mentioned earlier, the third-party card reader seemed to work when I first got it, but the performance took a deep dive, even though it had minimal use.
In fact, the card reader isn’t available anymore on Amazon and even the merchant isn’t there. I don’t suppose this has anything to do with my defective card reader?
Even if they had a warranty, what good is the warranty if the company is no longer on Amazon and located in a different country?
I was keeping the third-party card reader in the console of my car, so it’s possible the heat had something to do with its degraded performance, but I’m skeptical the heat caused the issue.
The symptoms it’s exhibiting seem to indicate that the lightning cable itself broke or came loose kind of like your charging cable over time will stop working due to the conductors breaking inside the cable.
When I plug the third-party reader into my iPhone now, the card appears and disappears from the “Locations” menu. It’s kind of shocking that this would happen because I think I only plugged the third-party reader into my phone less than five times total.
Time will tell if the Apple SD card reader will experience the same fate, but I really do think it’s going to last longer. I’ll update this post if it does stop working
Other Things I Like About the Apple SD card Reader Over the Third Party One
I like how the Apple SD card reader is a lot smaller than the third-party one.
This makes it easier to fit into my center console with other items. It doesn’t have the separate USB port and micro SD slot, but to be fair I really only need a SD card slot since I can use an adapter to insert my micro SD card.
Also, what good do those other ports do you when the cable breaks so quickly with the third party reader?
The other thing I noticed about the Apple reader was that the lightning connector is smaller than the third party reader. This allows me to plug it into my iPhone easier without it interfering with my phone case.
The third party reader is thicker and this makes it harder to plug into my phone as it rubs against the bottom of the case, which is the clear MagSafe case if you were wondering.
To sum everything up, the Apple SD card camera reader seems to work better than the third-party reader that I bought. The Apple reader was more expensive than the third-party one, but what good is a cheap reader if you have to keep replacing it?
If you’re looking for ways to transfer files to your iPhone or iPad, then the official Apple reader is a solid choice. I bought mine on Best Buy, but you can buy it on Amazon (affiliate link) as well.
Make sure you’re buying the official one as there are some other ones that look very similar to the Apple one. The Apple one ships from Amazon and is sold by Amazon while the other ones ship from Amazon and are sold by companies other than Amazon.
If you have any questions or comments to add, leave them below. I’ll be sure to respond to them.