iPhone drive adds storage, stays out of your way [Reviews]

By

SanDisk iXpand flash drive
You'll barely even know the SanDisk iXpand is there.
Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

Budget-minded iPhone owners have gotten used to making do with a meager 16GB of memory on their devices, but it’s annoying and may not be worth the money you’ve saved. But the market has no shortage of iPhone-friendly flash drives to make your life easier, and the new version of the SanDisk iXpand is one of the cooler ones we’ve seen.

Not only does it offer a bunch of different storage sizes and a really slick app to keep everything straight, but the makers also designed it to be as unobtrusive as possible. Basically, you can keep it plugged into your iPhone all the time, and you’ll barely even notice it. And that’s more than we can say about most of the phone accessories we carry around.

SanDisk iXpand flash drive

The SanDisk iXpand gave us a flashback to the recent past, where we had a look at the StylusFlex bendy capacitive stick. Just like that gizmo, which folds back behind your iPhone when you aren’t using it, the hook-shaped flash drive is made to keep most of its form factor hidden from view. When the Lightning plug is engaged, the USB part tucks back because you’ll call it when you need it, damn it.

This is a huge step up from earlier, stick-like versions of this device, and we really love how it looks.

The updated companion app is also a great help. It gives you a snapshot of the storage space left on both your phone and the external drive, and you can quickly upload and back up photos, movies and files with just a few taps. The one thing we had to look out for was having to close and reopen the app if we removed the drive between uses, but that only takes a second.

We tried out the 64GB model, which felt like the size that most people would want, especially if they’re still rocking a 16GB iPhone or iPad. But the SanDisk iXpand comes in sizes up to 128GB for serious photographers or moviemakers, but that just seems a bit excessive for everyday use. List prices range from $49.99 to $129.99, depending on storage capacity.

SanDisk says that the drive works with iPhone 6s, iPhone 5 and higher, iPad Pro, iPad Air 1 and 2, all iPad mini models, and the 5th-generation iPod Touch. And we’ve heard a few complaints that it doesn’t support all movie types, so keep that in mind if you’re wanting to use it to bring your favorite (legally obtained) films along with you. But for basic backing up and extra storage, it’s hard to find anything wrong with this one.

Buy from: Amazon — $23.08

SanDisk provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. Read our reviews policy.