Review: iXpand Flash Drive for iOS


Review: iXpand Flash Drive for iOS  – frees up space on phone or iPad

If you are short on space on your phone now that you’re taking 5o photos every day (every hour?), now there’s a way you can postpone paying $700 for the latest iDevice. SanDisk, maker of many different types of storage devices, has created the iXpand series of flash drives. They are just like any other “thumb” drive you might see but huge in terms of storage and chock full of software that make them easy to use for photo and movie backup when you’re short on space. Starting at $49 for 32GB, you can offload a lot of memories including even a few 4K Ultra HD movies with the iXpand if you need to free some space.  The 128G size runs $93 on Amazon.

The software inside the iXpand is the key feature. It does a few really interesting things in a new interface that is a drastic improvement over previous models:

  1. It can be set up to automatically back up your photos and videos when you plug it into the lightning port on your iOS device.
  2. The drive is fast: you can actually play video files right from the drive without saving them to your device
  3. You can protect your files with high level encryption (128-bit AES if that means anything to you) so that your files aren’t vulnerable in case you lose the drive. This won’t protect you from a really good hacker (like the NSA) but should be good for all practical family purposes

You should be aware of a few drawbacks however.

  • Encryption takes a bit of time, so moving things in and out of the “vault” isn’t instantaneous. It’s not as time-consuming as in the previous version, but slow enough that you won’t be moving stuff in and out very often “just because.”
  • As with all small and convenient things, the drive is easy to lose. While the design is different with a flexible lightning dongle to make it easy to hang on an iPad or iPhone, there is no secure hole in the device to attach a lanyard for more security.


  • Easy-peasy back up of valuable photos
  • Plays video right from drive
  • High speed USB 3.0


  • Encyrption falls short of military grade in case you’re working with classified secrets
  • If you lose the drive, you lose your data. The drive is relatively small but could be attached to a strap if needed
  • No cap to the USB end, though easy to cap with a random cap from other thumb drives

SanDisk iXpand with cap





Bottom line: If you didn’t buy an iPhone with enough memory or you travel with a lot media you need on hand, the iXpand is a great device. For others, periodically backing up to iCloud (paid) or your computer (free), might be enough. Mommy and Daddy spies may get extra value out of the security vault encryption.

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