SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive provides much needed storage for iOS devices.

I never thought that I would feel that a 64 GB model of smart phone would be so data limited. However, it makes sense when we think about the on-the-go, multi-accessory connected lifestyle that many of us lead. With cameras taking better and higher megapixel pictures, higher definition video, data heavy apps and games, it is obvious that data will be a limiting resource. While attending CES 2016, I learned this lesson first hand, as I pushed my iPhone 6S plus data to its limit. Recording interviews, snapping photos of the all of the gear and taking notes on the pages app, too many messages and Mail used up all but 5 GB of my data. I did not want to delete anything, I was desperate for a data option.

SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Review

For me, SanDisk has been a trusted name in the media/storage world. When I came upon the team, at the Showstoppers Bluetooth Experience (CES 2016), I was excited to learn about a few options for data management for IOS devices. These are the iXpand line (16, 32,64,128 GB options) and Connect Wireless Stick (16,32,64,128,200 GB) and a few other options. I have already reviewed the wireless stick, please see my review of this device at macsources.com.

SanDIsk has a great way of showcasing their products. I, as a consumer, appreciate the clear plastic demonstration window, surrounded by clean white cardboard and crisp gold and red lettering. The packaging is minimalistic, yet classy. The packaging promises a device that can “easily move photos and videos between devices, Instantly expand your storage.” The back of the retail packaging showcases the highlights of the device very well. Again, the packaging is quite well done. Open the top of the package, slide out the formed cardboard/plastic cradling the device. There is a thin piece of laminated cardboard showing “get started” with icons demonstrating how to plug the flash drive into the iPhone/iPad. Flipping this paper over, SanDIsk provided a LED legend. Blinking LED (photo transfer do not remove), Green (charged), red(low battery, plug in to USB port), yellow (Charging).

SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Review

Initial impression:
The device is a small rectangle, silver with black central accents and Black “SanDIsk” down the side. There is a USB 2.0 along the top, covered with a cap. The middle is slightly raised and is a MFI certified lightning connector. Lift the connector gently and it pulls away from the base creating an acute angle. IF you pry this it will become 90 degrees and maybe even a little obtuse. However, I would not push/pull on this too hard as it seems to be a weak point that may break with recurrent bending. The device is 2.5 inches long, 1 7/16 inches wide and 1/2 inch tall, weighing in at 0.9 ounces. One thing that I do not like is the shape of the Lightning connector. One edge is rounded and one edge is boxy and it pushes into the base nicely. The problem is the connector itself. I have a Catalyst case that has an oval shaped lightning port. This port is similar to the Lifeproof and the Otterbox Defender cases. I wish that both ends of this were oval shaped, similar to the Apple chargers. With the hexagon shape, it will fits in to the port on the catalyst case, but you have to force it into the connector. Unfortunately, it fits best so the big part of the flash drive is angled over the top of the home button on my iPhone. It fits nicely into the Otterbox Defender on my iPad Air 2 with the large part posterior to the iPad.

SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive ReviewYou can download the Ixpand Flash Drive app from the App Store. If you open the app without a connected device, it will tell you that there is no device connected. Plug the device in and you are taken to a series of help screens that teach you the main aspects of the drive. This is convenient as it teaches you how to use the device without having to search for the tutorial. Opening the quick start guide is rather useless as this is the same information included on the back of the package (Get started guide). There is also a 10 page user guide which is very well written in appropriate and well versed English. You can access/enable security features. Go to Menu (3 horizontal lines) then to settings and security. From here, you can activate security. Enter a password (highly recommended). Here you can enter a hint for the password. If forgotten, files will not be recoverable! I repeat if you forget the password the data is lost. When you activate security, there will be a new file created called SanDiskSecureAccess Vault. The manual reminds you “DO NOT DELETE THIS.” You can now store files into a secure location. Simply select the Lock icon at the bottom of the screen and the files are stored  securely. They will be moved to the SanDiskSecureAccess Vault Folder. I really like this feature as I often use my jump drives to share/move sensitive personal data. When you plug this into your computer, you can access this secure area by opening up the vault folder and entering in the password.

Here is where I want to talk about the benefit of this device over the Connect wireless drive. Let me say I really wanted to like the wireless stick better than the plug-in device. Alas, it was the other way around. I was able to move my m4V movies from iTunes onto my computer and then onto the ixpand drive. Now I am able to play movies on my iPhone and iPad Air 2 from the drive. This frees up a ton of of storage room on the phone itself. This is an amazing find! I watched Guardians of the Galaxy in HD and it was glorious. Pair this with my new P6 headphones (please see review) and I am a very happy person.

SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive ReviewI enjoy this product so well that I now have 2 of them. My family and I have a diesel motorhome and love to make road trips/camping trips to see my parents in North Carolina. I am putting my movies onto them in M4V format and using these for travel videos. When I had tried the Wireless stick, it promised streaming to 3 devices at once. Unfortunately I was unable to play a movie. The data transfer on the iXpand is quick, and it just works. Sometimes simple is the way to go. One thing I do not understand is, the packaging states that the device comes pre-charged. It does not make much sense for this to say that, as it does not appear that the device requires any kind of recharging. Creating a camera back up is as easy as pushing a button. The first time this is done is longer than follow-up backups. This was painstakingly slow for me as I have 20GB of videos/pictures on my iPhone. I would recommend the iXpand Flash Drive to everyone with an iPhone or an iPad. This is a wonderful way to carry extra data with you (not on the device) or to move data from your iPhone quickly in a pinch. I rate this at 5/5 stars for quality, ease of use and overall need. Even with the shape of the Lightning connector I would rate this at 5/5.
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For more information, visit sandisk.com/ixpand.
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