Review: Sandisk iXpand Flash Drive for iOS

Sandisk’s iXpand portable storage device lets you play media from the device or manage storage on your iPhone or iPad. Sandisk

Ask any old coot and they’ll tell you that there once was a time when media wasn’t quite as pervasive as it is now.

Thanks to the limits of technology as well as the prohibitive cost of equipment, videos, and photos were pretty much the exclusive domain of professionals and dedicated hobbyists.

With the advent of powerful smartphones and the advent of the Internet, however, media is a lot more democratized. Whether you own an iPhone or Android device such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the Motorola Moto X or Droid Turbo you can now take photos and videos and share it with the world.

In fact, the biggest limitation to anybody these days is storage. This is especially true for the 16GB entry-level iPhone and iPad, both of which can fill up pretty fast if you use it to produce lots of media or download plenty of apps. Add the fact that these Apple devices don’t come with microSD slots for expanding memory in a pinch and space can run out pretty quickly.

This makes devices such as the Sandisk iXpand Flash Drive an interesting device for storage-hungry iPhone or iPad owners. The gadget is designed to let users easily transfer files on the go, allowing you to backup files and move them to a computer or external hard drive later on.

Unlike the wireless method used by other Sandisk products such as the Sandisk Connect, the iXpand goes the physical route by coming with a built-in Lightning connector. This comes with advantages and disadvantages. On the downside, you can’t use it with Android devices so you’re locked into the Apple ecosystem. It also won’t work with older Apple devices that use the classic 30-pin connector or an older operating system prior to iOS 7.1. On the plus side, however, a direct connection means a more dependable connection that’s not subject to the whims of a shaky wireless signal. The connector itself uses a rubber attachment that allows you to angle it out as opposed to a traditional hard connection that’s normally built into a memory device’s edges. It seems weird at first but it actually helps with placement and also works with thick protective cases that have deep grooves for the Lightning port.

The file transfer process itself is pretty easy. Just download the iXpand app and you can start moving files to preset folders or create your own. You can even set up the device to automatically move stuff to certain folders automatically. Sticklers for security can also encrypt their data for added protection.

In addition to moving files, one neat feature for the iXpand is the ability to play media from the gadget without moving it into your iPhone or iPad. These include files that you normally can’t play on your phone or tablet right off the bat such as AVI and MKV movies, for example. You can also Airdrop files from the iXPand without having to move them into your iPhone or iPad.

As far as gripes about the device go, our biggest one would ​be transfer speed. Despite using a direct connection, it can be slow, especially when compared to transferring the old-fashioned way to a computer with your normal lightning cable. When I tried moving a bunch of photos, it started by taking 10 seconds per photo but slowed down significantly after that, with some taking longer than a minute at times. Ultimately, it took us an hour and a half to move 382 photos from our iPhone 6, which is quite long though still useful when you’re out and about and need to free up space or transfer files without a computer. Meanwhile, the cheapest variant of the device costs $60 for 16GB of memory, which can be pricey for some folks.

Overall, though, the Sandisk iXpand is a solid alternative for folks looking for expanded memory options for their iPhone or iPad. If you don’t mind its issues, it’s worth a look if you want the option to be able to move files on the go.

Rating: 3.5 our of 5

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