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Review: SanDisk iXpand Liberates your iOS Devices

Have you ever wanted to share a photo or video to a friend’s iOS device without the hassle of going through AirDrop or some 3rd party apps (like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger) which reduces the quality? Or just simply copy your favourite drama, that you had downloaded from your desktop, to your iPhone without going through iTunes? Or maybe you’re just running out of space in your iPhone and wish the backup your phone to a USB drive?

SanDisk iXpand

If you’re such a person, maybe the SanDisk iXpand is for you. The SanDisk iXpand quickly transfers photos and videos from an iOS device to a Mac or PC, while maintaining the original photo or video resolution quality. You just plug into a computer, copy whatever files you need (that includes documents and other random files too) into the SanDisk iXpand. Connect it to your iPhone and open the iXpand app to quickly copy and sync your files.

Let’s go through each key feature.

1. Autobackup

SanDisk iXpand AppThe SanDisk iXpand is able to automatically sync your entire camera roll to the drive. It’s useful for those who have bought the iPhone 16GB and are running out of space. Once synced, you can delete your photos to clear space. Every time you connect the SanDisk iXpand, it will prompt you to open the app, and if automatic sync is enabled, it will backup the latest photos from the camera roll.

There were a few issues when I was using this feature. If you are doing a huge first backup sync (e.g. 10GB or more with videos included), and accidentally close the app (or the app crashes), you might have problems continuing the sync. I’ve tried this several times and it just won’t continue from where it left off. The only workaround is to delete the folder and start syncing from the beginning again.

During my testing, the battery dropped by almost 30% to 40% when transferring around 1,000 photos which took about 30 mins. This might be an issue if you’re transferring a lot of files when you first sync your camera roll, so remember to fully charge your phone before syncing because you won’t be able to charge and sync at the same time.

2. Video Player

SanDisk iXpand AppPositioned as a external storage that is also meant to play your favourite videos, the app supports several video formats for playback – .WMV, .AVI, .MKV, .MP4, .MOV.  The internal battery in the SanDisk iXpand will power the device while playing the video directly from the drive, reducing the battery drain by just a little.

The app doesn’t have the best video player, with several features that a full fledged video player app will provide – like scrubbing through the video quickly, playing the video where you left off, showing subtitles – just to name a few. You’re better off copying your favourite drama into the phone and sharing it to a video player app instead, provided the video player app has implemented the latest share feature in iOS 8.

Ultimately, don’t bother with the video player in the app, and don’t bother watching full length dramas directly from the drive. Copy the video file into your phone and watch it from there instead.

3. My Downloads, Transfer Contacts, and SanDisk Secure Access Vault

SanDisk iXpand App

My Downloads allows you to copy any file into your internal phone storage that will reside in the SanDisk iXpand app. From there, you can share that file to the respective app. This is extremely useful especially if you want to quickly transfer documents from your desktop to your iPad (or iPhone) without the hassle of going through iTunes syncing.

Transfer Contacts allows you to convert all your phone contacts or selected ones into vcard files (.VCF) so you can transfer your contacts to another device. This is convenient for many people without fiddling around with the various contact transferring apps and other solutions.

The SanDisk Secure Access Vault allows you to protect any file into a secured folder within the drive, requiring a password to access the file. Useful in some cases, but I don’t see myself using this often.

My Wish List for SanDisk iXpand

Although SanDisk iXpand packs a lot of features, especially the promise of on-the-go (OTG) drive for iOS devices, there are a few things I see lacking that I hope to see in the next product release:

  • A lightning port to charge the iPhone or iPad while the SanDisk iXpand is connected.
  • A micro-usb cable that allows sharing files between iOS and Android devices too.
  • Improved video player within the iXpand app.

Conclusion

The SanDisk iXpand offers a comprehensive on-the-go (OTG) usb flash drive for iOS devices. Convenience is the main key selling point as everyone is familiar with using flash drive. However, the companion SanDisk iXpand sync app falls short when it comes to stability and robustness. Hopefully future updates of the app will make this OTG solution more compelling to the average consumers.

The SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive is available worldwide in 16GB, 32GB and 64G capacities and is priced at an MSRP of SGD88, SGD128, and SGD188, respectively. The drive also comes with a two-year limited warranty and is compatible with current generation iPhones and iPads running iOS 8 or iOS 7. The SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive is currently available in Singapore through Challenger Technologies Ltd, Sprint-Cass Pte Ltd, EpiCenter, iStudio and Nubox.

Pros:

  • Fast syncing speed
  • Lightweight and easy to carry around
  • Convenient for transferring files to iOS devices

Cons:

  • Restricted to iOS devices only
  • Unable to charge while using the SanDisk iXpand
  • SanDisk iXpand sync app needs to be improved

Who might want this drive:

  • People running out of space on their 16GB iOS devices.
  • People who don’t sync their iOS devices to their computer.
  • People who find it a hassle to transfer files to their iOS devices using iTunes.

Review Overview

Hardware (build, size, usability) - 70%
Software (robustness, features, usability) - 45%

58%

Useful, but app needs more work

Useful if you fall in the target segment market of people that are running out of storage, people who don't sync their iOS devices, and those who wants to transfer files between the various devices and computers. However, the app needs to be improved on several fronts, especially the robustness of automatic syncing, which is one of the key selling points.

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