One of the big bugbears of iOS devices is that, unlike Android, there’s no option to add more storage to your device. And while SanDisk’s iXpand flash drive is a little different from slipping a microSD card into an Android smartphone, it is a relatively convenient way to get files onto an iPad or iPhone, or back up your device’s photos and videos.
The iXpand is a fairly simple device. There’s a USB plug on one end for connecting to a PC, where it works just like any normal USB flash drive, letting you copy/cut/paste to your hearts content. For iOS, there’s a fold-out Lightning connector, which works with a special SanDisk iXpand app to let you browse the contents of the drive.
The app can open and read PDFs, Word and Excel files, as well as most common images and MP4 videos, and the option to open files in third-party apps means you can send them elsewhere if you want to do more.
Be warned though, that iOS’s ‘Open in…’ command only works with a single file at a time, meaning if you’re looking to import a large amount of files into a third-party app (like whole seasons of TV shows into VLC, for example) you’re in for a laborious process of doing them one by one. The app also has an Automatic Camera Sync feature, which will copy any new pictures across to the drive when plugged in.
On the downside, the drive’s not particularly quick, with fairly paltry read and write speeds of 12.3 and 13.2MB/s, respectively — well under the 30MB/s cap of USB 2.0 (the top speed on the latest iOS devices).
It’s takes about a 90 seconds to copy a gigabyte. And the drive can only be formatted as FAT32, meaning there’s a hard file-size limit of 4GB. So if you’re looking at the iXpand as a quick way to get your 5GB+ high-def movies to an iPad or iPhone, you’re out of luck.
Verdict: Does the job for getting files onto IOS devices and backing up your snaps and vids, but is a little slow.