Many, many iPad and iPhone users are frustrated that Apple refuses to include expandable storage in its mobile devices, but some companies are taking care of this problem: Leef offers a microSD card reader that can be plugged into any recent Apple tablet or phone.
The Leef iAccess iOS microSD Reader is available now, and sells for $49.99.
Build and Design
This accessory has a C shape, with a Lightning port on one end and a microSD memory card slot on the middle. It has been designed to be usable even with the iOS device in a relatively thick case.
The iAccess is easily portable, at 1.6 x 0.8 x 0.65 inches (40.5 x 21.0 x 16.6 mm) and 0.01 pounds, or 0.21 oz. (6g). There’s no protection for the Lightning connector though, so keeping this item in a gear bag or purse is probably wise.
It is definitely plastic and comes in only white, but it’s not something designed to be permanently attached to a tablet or phone. Rather, this is an accessory that’s plugged in, used, then put back in a bag or pocket, so its appearance isn’t very important.
When inserted, the microSD card is fairly well protected. It’s recessed enough that it’s not likely to be accidentally ejected, while at the same time can be easily removed by the user.
Leef says this accessory supports cards in capacities from 8GB to 128GB. We tested it with cards between 1GB and 64GB without problems.
The first time the iAccess iOS microSD Reader is inserted into a tablet or phone, the user is notified that they need to download and install an application called MobileMemory to access the contents. Thereafter, inserting the accessory will cause the device ask to open this app whenever the accessory is inserted. This is the same software used by the Leef iBridge, a flash drive also designed to work with Apple products.
File transfers are failrly quick. In our tests, a 200MB file was copied from a microSD card to an iPad in just under 30 seconds. Transferring the same file from iPad to card took about 40 seconds.
A feature Leef strongly emphasizes about the iAccess is its ability to back up the images taken with an iPad or iPhone so these can be cleared out of the mobile device’s memory. In our tests, this feature worked quite well.
The MobileMemory app can be set up to automatically copy all images and photos from an iPad or iPhone to the microSD card, or users can do them manually. Even if the automatic backup is used, it is up to the user to manually delete the original from the iOS device.
Just be aware, if Live Photos are being transferred with MobileMemory then the video portion will be left behind, and only the still image will be saved on the external card. Actual videos will be transferred.
Images and video can even be recorded straight to a memory card with the iAccess Camera feature. This doesn’t offer as many options as the iOS camera software, but it can still be handy for those whose tablet or phone is full.
Movies and Music
The iAccess iOS microSD Reader can handle much more than just images. Users can store up to 128GB of songs and video and play them back later, without using valuable internal storage.
The music player can display album art and it supports shuffle but not playlists.
A wide variety of video formats can be played as well, in full-screen mode, in portrait or landscape. This makes the iAccess a convenient way to store several movies or TV shows for a long trip.
Leef’s iAccess iOS microSD Reader isn’t just for entertainment. It can also display the contents of files in .pdf, .doc, .xls, .xlsx, .docx, .ppt, .pptx, .key, .numbers, .pages, .txt, .rtf, .ics, .htm, .html, .epub, and .fb2, in addition to all the multimedia formats supported.
Even better, it supports Apple’s “Open in…” feature, so a .doc stored on a microSD card can be opened in Microsoft Word, for example. This same function can be used to transfer files from other iOS software to be stored on a card.
In addition, MobileMemory can be used to easily backup the user’s contacts list, and quickly restore it if something happens to the iPad or iPhone.
The main screen of the MobileMemory software is broken into four sections: Transfer Files, Content Viewer, iAccess Camera, and Settings.
A very useful file manager is somewhat hidden in the Transfer Files section. This can be used to move files back and forth between the iPad/iPhone and the iAccess, rename files, copy them, and delete them.
The Content Viewer is just that: a viewer. It is broken into Photos, Music, Movies, and Documents sections. Content on the card can be accessed from here, or from the File Manager.
This application supports both portrait and landscape modes, which is very convenient for tablet users who need to access a microSD card while also connected to an external keyboard.
Images and videos can easily take up a significant percentage of the storage capacity of an iPad or iPhone, especially if it’s a 16GB model. The Leef iAccess iOS microSD Reader brings an easy way to add additional storage for large multimedia files to an Apple device.
Plus, it’s useful beyond that, giving users the ability to store up to 128GB of all kinds of files and then access them with their tablet or phone, making it useful for businesspeople and students.
The iAccess is nearly unique in bringing a microSD card slot to Apple’s tablets and phones, but there are quite a few flash drives that can be plugged into the Lightning port, including the aforementioned Leef iBridge, as well as the SanDisk iXpand and the PhotoFast i-FlashDrive MAX. These are all more expensive than the $49.99 iAccess. For example, the 16GB version of the iBridge is $59.99 and the iXpand 32GB is $80.
In additional to its lower price, Leef’s microSD card reader can bring almost unlimited storage, as cards can be swapped out.
When one considers that Apple charges as much as $100 for an additional 48GB of storage in the iPad Air 2, the iAccess begins to look like an even better deal.