With iPhones and iPads snapping 8-megapixel images and HD video like it's going out of style, storage can quickly become an issue — especially as Apple has kept the entry-level models at 16GB even while increasing storage for the higher-end versions.
This can be an especially sticky problem while traveling, and not just because you take more photos and video clips. Maybe you can't upload your images to cloud storage without a data connection, maybe you're about to run up against your data plan's ceiling, maybe hotel Wi-Fi costs too much and performs terribly, and maybe you didn't bring your laptop to offload images to its hard drive. SanDisk's iXpand Flash Drive has you covered.
iXpand is a small, portable flash drive with both USB and Lightning connectors. Its companion iOS app lets you back up videos and photos from your Photos app, so you can delete them and free up space to shoot more.
You can also load up iXpand with files from your computer and make them accessible on your phone. It's particularly great for toting along an extra movie or two while you're traveling, since you don't have to worry about converting the video to the right file format or size for your device.
iXpand is small, about the length of a Chapstick, just a little wider and thinner (it measures about 2.5 by 1.5 by 0.5 inches). It's easy to pop into a pocket, and it quickly earned a place in the Ziploc bag of cables and dongles that I keep with me at all times. Made from aluminum and plastic with no visible screws, it's nice and light but still feels sturdy, like it's going to last. (SanDisk includes a two-year warranty.)
The Lightning connector pulls out from the iXpand's body on the end of a flexible rubbery arm, and the connector itself is thin enough that I was able to use it with my iPhone 6 or iPad in a case. I hate having to remove a device's case to use an accessory, so that's a big point for iXpand.
A tiny little light on the side blinks to warn you if it's transferring a file, so you don't yank it out of your computer while it's working. The same light glows red when iXpand needs charging. It charges when connected to your computer's USB port, and you'll wind up doing that anyway, so in my time with iXpand so far I haven't actually seen that red light go on.
When you connect iXpand to your iPhone or iPad, a popup will appear asking you if the software on the drive is allowed to access your iPhone's files. You tap Allow, which automatically launches the companion iXpand Sync app. (If you don't have it installed, you'll be prompted to install it.)
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.