The i-FlashDrive is as close to adding a microSD card reader to iPads and iPhones as users can get until Apple changes its hardware strategy.
Just connect this accessory with memory card to the Lightning port and its content is immediately accessible. It can also function as a card reader for desktops and laptops, allowing files to be easily transferred between PCs, Macs, and iOS gadgets.
Build and Design
The i-FlashDrive is small and light, so it’s easy to carry around. It’s a flattened white rectangle that’s about 2 inches long, weighing under half an ounce.
On one end is a Lightning connector, so it can be plugged into all recent Apple iOS devices. On the opposite side is a full-size USB connector so the device can be used with laptops and desktops. Covers are included to protect both plugs.
In the middle is the microSD slot. Memory cards fit almost completely inside, so they get good protection. Removing them is easy, thanks to an internal spring mechanism.
The i-FlashDrive’s card reader supports the SDHD format but not the newer SDXC, so it can access files from cards up to 32 GB in capacity but not larger. Our attempts to use 64 GB cards from SanDisk and Kingston were unsuccessful, but the reader handled an array of lower-capacity cards from a variety of vendors.
UPDATE: The retailer for this accessory, Brando, reports success using a 64 GB Toshiba SDXC microSD (30MB/s) card with the i-FlashDrive, as well as a 128 GB Sandisk microSDXC UHS-I (48 MB/s) card, both formatted with FAT32. We were not able to independently confirm these results.
A microSD memory card isn’t included, but they are widely available. Ones with just 2 GB of capacity cost as little as $2, while ones with 32 GB can be found for under $20.
As soon as the i-FlashDrive is plugged into an iPad or iPhone, a pop-up windows asks if the user would like to open the i-FlashDrive HD app. This is necessary because the iOS doesn’t include a file manager that’s accessible to users – this app does the job instead.
It opens with the three places you can store files:
- Local Storage includes all the internal capacity of the iOS device not being used by other apps and their associated files.
- External Storage is for the files that are on the microSD card, which means it maxes out at 32 GB.
- Dropbox is integrated into the i-FlashDrive app, allowing users to easily move files around between the cloud storage service, iOS device, and memory card.
The i-FlashDrive HD app includes an extensive collection of viewers for different types of files, like PDF and Office documents. It can play music and videos, so these files don’t eat up valuable internal storage.
This software supports “Open in…” so files can be moved to other applications to be edited. For example, a .DOCX file could be opened in Microsoft Word.
And the process works in reverse as well, so files can be transferred to the i-FlashDrive HD software from any app that supports “Open in…”. This means, for example, that an .XLS file that comes in as email could be transferred to a microSD card.
Moving large files around takes patience: Transferring 100 MB file from Local Storage to a microSD card takes about 3 minutes. Fortunately, moving the same file the opposite direction goes much more quickly at about 55 seconds.
The i-FlashDrive HD app enables users to create folders, as well as delete files.
As bonus features, this software can make a backup of all the contacts stored on an iOS device and save it as a VCF file. The contacts can be restored with the push of a button. This app even has a built-in voice recorder, with recordings saved on the removable drive as AAC files.
No extra software is needed when plugging this accessory into a Mac or PC, as it performs like any other USB drive, appearing as a removable drive in a computer’s file manager.
The i-FlashDrive is the accessory that many iPad and iPhone users want and need: a simple way to add memory to their mobile device.
The online retailer Brando appears to have an exclusive on this device, where it’s available for $30. Even at that price, it’s inexpensive when compared to what Apple charges for memory upgrades – going from a 16 GB iPad Air to the 32 GB version is an additional $100.