New SanDisk iXpand slimmer and meaner

The SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive has a camera function that lets you save your photos or videos directly to the drive, instead of your iPhone.
The SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive has a camera function that lets you save your photos or videos directly to the drive, instead of your iPhone.PHOTO: SANDISK

Took too many photos and your iPhone is running out of storage space? The SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive could be what you need. It allows you to move photos or files between your iOS device and computer (PC or Mac).

The previous iXpand, which is the size of a match box, was a tad chunky. So SanDisk made the new iXpand as thin as your finger.

Apart from having a flexible curved Lightning connector on one end, it looks like any other USB flash drive with USB 3.0 connector on the other end (its predecessor has a USB 2.0 connector).

You need to lift the Lightning connector up and plug it into an iOS device, say, an iPhone.

When you do so, the USB 3.0 connector will wrap behind the iPhone. Thus, you can still use your iPhone to take calls or message.

Despite its rubber coating, I was worried that the USB connector might scratch the back of my iPhone 6s Plus. So I was glad that with Apple's Leather Case on my iPhone, there is still enough leeway for the USB 3.0 connector to wrap behind the phone.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $79 (16GB), $99 (32GB, version tested), $139 (64GB) and $199 (128GB)

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x Lightning

    WEIGHT: 6g

    RATING

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Once connected, a pop-up window will prompt you to download the iXpand Drive app from iTunes Store. The app's user-friendly interface makes it easy to transfer files between the iPhone and your PC.

The app also allows you to automatically back up contacts and the photos in your iPhone's camera roll. Or you can do so manually, which is the method I prefer.

It even has a camera function that lets you save your photos or videos directly to the drive, instead of your iPhone. Great for those who have a 16GB iPhone, but its camera software does not have any advanced functions like filters or aspect ratio.

You can also back up your pictures from popular social media sites, such as Facebook or Instagram, if you are afraid you might lose them, with the app.

Movies and music loaded on the iXpand can be viewed or listened directly from the flash drive via the app. File formats tested include AVI, RMVB, MOV, MP3, MP4, WAV and WMA. All of them worked without a hitch.

However, movies and TV shows bought from iTunes Store cannot be transferred into the iXpand. The same thing applies to songs bought from Apple Music. But you can access and play your iTunes music from the iXpand app.

Overall, transfer speeds are pretty fast. Transferring photos and videos of around 262MB took 37sec from iPhone to the iXpand. But transferring the same content from the iXpand to my MacBook Air took only 14sec.

The bigger downer is that iXpand still needs to be in FAT32 format for the app to work and for files to be readily read by both Windows and Mac machines. Therefore, you cannot transfer any single file or stream any movie that is bigger than 4GB.

Trevor Tan

•Verdict: For iPhone and iPad users who need more storage, the new SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive is definitely the USB flash drive to get.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2016, with the headline 'New SanDisk iXpand slimmer and meaner'. Print Edition | Subscribe