Eye-Fi Mobi: Finally, Eye-Fi Gets It Right [Review]

Eye-Fi Mobi: Finally, Eye-Fi Gets It Right [Review]

Mobi byEye-Fi
Category: SD cards
Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Price: $50

I have used a variety of Eye-Fi cards in the past, both top-end, RAW-compatible Eye-Fi branded cards, and SanDisk’s licensed versions. And all of them have sucked. But the folks at Photojojo insisted I try out the new 8GB Eye-Fi mobi, a card designed to pair with an iDevice and let you seamlessly transfer pictures from any camera to your iPhone or iPad.

And — to my huge surprise — it’s fantastic.

What It Is

Eye-Fi Mobi: Finally, Eye-Fi Gets It Right [Review]

Watch the photos appear as you take them. It’s like magic!

Eye-Fi cards are regular SD cards with Wi-Fi radios inside. They started off as a way to geotag photos using Wi-Fi hotspots, but in recent years Eye-Fi has tried to make the cards more about sending pictures to your mobile devices from your camera.

The problem is that the experience has been so flaky. It was almost impossible to get working, and even then transfers were unreliable. I also lost far too many images to corrupt cards (on Eye-Fi and SanDisk versions), and of course running a Wi-Fi hotspot inside your camera sucks on its battery.

But the mobi is designed to transfer photos to your iPhone, and nothing more. This limitation means the setup is dead easy, and the operation is reliable. Let’s take a look:

The Good

The 8GB mobi is a class 10SDHC card, and this means that it works great inside my Fujifilm X100S. I shoot only JPGs these days, so the mobi has no problem keeping up with the camera’s speedy file writing.

And the battery problem is somewhat mitigated as the X100S has — like many modern cameras — a setting to switch the Eye-Fi radio on and off. This lets you use it as a regular card and only turn it on when you want to transfer pictures. What happens if you take, like, hundreds of pictures when the card is switched off? It’ll transfer all of them to your iPhone, oldest first, so you’ll be stuck waiting if all you need is to quickly send your latest photo to the iPhone.

Set Up

Set up is now ridiculously easy. I’d compare it to the setup of the Pro X2 card, but just describing the process makes the red mist start to descend. So here’s how it works with the new mobi:

  1. Download the Eye-Fi app and launch it.
  2. When prompted, type in the code on the box the card came in (you kept the box, right?)
  3. Wait while your iPhone is flipped into the settings app, and tap a few confirmation dialogs
  4. Connect to the mob’s Eye-Fi network with your iPhone.
  5. That’s it.

And remember, that’s the setup. Once you’re up and running, the iPhone will connect automatically to the Eye-Fi’s network, and if the app is open, the transfer will happen automatically.

Eye-Fi Mobi: Finally, Eye-Fi Gets It Right [Review]

Grid.

Try as I might, I haven’t yet managed to break it. You can even use the same card with multiple iOS devices (I have it “paired” with an iPad mini and an iPhone 5) and it won’t miss a beat as you switch between them.

Transfer speed is great, and as it relies on a direct connection between camera and iPhone, it’s always the same, with no relying on flaky hotel Wi-Fi networks, for example.

The direct connection is actually great, letting you use the card with a phone even in the middle of nowhere. But you can only use direct mode now, which means that if you’re at home, you’ll have to manually leave your home network and connect to the Eye-Fi. I’m happy to use a cable to transfer pictures at home, so if no network support is what it takes to keep the direct mode reliable. I’ll take it.

Also great is that the app will work even when the screen is sleeping, so you can shoot with your iPhone in your pocket and all the pictures you take will be sent across, ready to be cropped square and Instagrammed.

The Bad

The main problem with the new mobi is the same problem which plagues all other Eye-Fi cards: Software. The iOS app is still confusing, and lacks very basic functions, like the ability to delete images.

It also fails to take advantage of simple iPhone features. For instance, the app could tag photos on their way into the app — the iPhone has GPS, after all.

Another weird feature is that the transfer continues even after you turn your camera off. Battery dying? Need to stop all radio activity because you’re on a plane? Then you’d better yank the card or the battery out of your camera. When I switch of my X100S the transfer just carries on. And the X100S is notoriously battery-hungry even without this added drain.

I’d also like to see a better way to control uploads. You can already set the card to only upload image that you protect using the camera’s playback functions, but this is almost never a one-button job. Maybe it could transfer images using the newest first? Or maybe it’s impossible to do anything but shove any and every picture over the air one at a time.

The Verdict

This is the first Eye-Fi card I would recommend. It does what it says it does, it’s reliable, and if you choose to use it as an ordinary card, its Class 10 speed means you’re not being penalized there either. 8GB is plenty for JPG shooting (the mobi won’t transfer RAW wirelessly, so you’ll really only be using it for JPGs), and $50 isn’t too bad.

The problem is that the iPhone is now such a great camera that you might not even need to bother with a regular camera, and if you’re using an iPad, then it’s still quicker to pop out the SD card and use the camera connection kit for transferring any more than a handful of photos.

But if what you want is a connection between your camera and your iPhone, then the Eye-Fi mobi is now — finally — up to the job.

Eye-Fi Mobi: Finally, Eye-Fi Gets It Right [Review]Product Name: : MobiThe Good: It works. At last.

The Bad: Crappy app.

The Verdict For $50, you can add reliable Wi-Fi to your camera.

Buy from: Photojojo

Cult of Mac rating: Good

  • halfnote123

    I purchased this card and works amazing. A note to the author of this article. Under the section for “The Bad”. The only way to actually delete the photos from the app is to go to Apple’s Photos app, and simply delete the photo there. Then they will be gone from the Eye-Fi app.

    Great article!

  • jcgarza

    Just to be clear: You either transfer *all* of the photos on the card, or none? There’s no way of sending, say, one?

  • rebobbinator

    “You can already set the card to only upload image that you protect using the camera’s playback functions”

    How do you do this with the Eye-Fi Mobi?

About the author

Charlie Sorrel Charlie Sorrel is the Reviews Editor here on Cult of Mac. Follow Charlie  on Twitter at @mistercharlie.

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