iPhone External Storage: 4 Best Flash Drives For iPhone.
iOS 13 brought a long list of long-awaited changes to Apple’s mobile operating system, not least of which are split across different types of devices. While the iPhone has kept the iOS name, we now have tvOS and iPadOS to contend with. Of course, they all represent the same underlying system and one great new feature is support for external storage.
Unfortunately, at least on iPhones, you have to be pretty picky about your drive if you want to be sure that your iPhone’s external storage will work. So, we’ve picked out some of the best flash drives for iPhones that you can plug and run right out of the box.
Top things to know about iPhone external storage
Unlike iPad Pro devices (and like regular iPads), iPhones don’t have a USB-C port. In the future, Apple will probably have an iPhone with USB-C, but for now, the Lightning port is your only way to access external storage.
This means that you need to purchase a Lightning flash drive or buy an Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter Don’t let the name fool you, this adapter will allow you to connect almost any USB device to your phone. If it has enough power and is supported by iOS.
Some devices, such as external mechanical drives or solid state drives, will only work if you connect them to a powered hub first, or if you connect a Lightning charger to your camera adapter.
While it makes sense for large external storage devices to consume more power than the iPhone can muster, you’ll be surprised to know that many regular flash drives are also too power hungry for the iPhone. So if you plan on buying a non-Lightning flash drive and just use it with a camera adapter, either confirm via Google that it will work without external power, or make sure you have a Lightning charger to use with the camera adapter.
All drives shown below are native Lightning USB drives. Thus, they are guaranteed to work as external storage for the iPhone. In general, however, these drives are not designed to function as standard Lightning mass storage devices. Instead, they need a mediation application. Depending on the application, you can move any file you like, or only files of certain categories, such as photos or videos.
However, if you use a camera adapter and connect the USB-A end of the drive to your phone, you can use them like regular mass storage devices. This means fast automatic backups via Lightning and fully open file access via USB-A
With that caveat removed, let’s take a look at some of the best flash drives on the market that natively support the Lightning connector.
32GB SanDisk iXpand drive for iPhone and iPad
The main reason this SanDisk drive is on this list is honestly for the price. At just $ 23, this is a great companion for the iPhone SE or iPod Touch, which typically have lower capacities. Of course, if you want, they offer a gradual increase in size to 256GB.
The iXpand has a loopback design. You have a standard USB-A connector on one end, so you can plug it into a device such as a desktop computer. On the other end is a short cable with a lightning connector at the end. This means you don’t need to remove the case to connect Lightning to your phone.
These drives predate iOS’s built-in external storage support. Thus, it is designed to work with an application that also automatically transfers files, such as photos, to the drive as soon as you plug it in.
According to SanDisk, you can still use the iXpand drive with the Files app, but the iXpand app must also be installed.
SanDisk 256GB iXpand Go flash drive
As with the SanDisk loopback drive we just looked at, Go must be used with the SansDisk app. However, it has a different physical design and may not work with some phone cases. Although the connector is narrow enough that this shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
This particular model comes with a USB A to C adapter, which means you can use the drive with your MacBook. And when Apple eventually introduces USB-C to its phones, you won’t have to buy a new flash drive to use your iPhone’s external storage!
RAVPower iPhone 128GB flash drive MFi USB 3.0 certified
This is another drive that requires an app to run, and we can’t find any indication that you can access it directly with a file app. However, iPlugMate supports a fair amount of content types.
The RAVPower drive has many advantages. Its 128GB storage price is fantastic. Though, as with any cheap flash memory, you have to be realistic about long-term reliability.
Another killer feature is through charging. That’s right, you can charge your phone with the storage connected. This applies to large and lengthy file transfer operations, as well as when you are viewing content from a drive, draining the battery.
The two cable heads also snap together so that a long, awkward cable won’t dangle when you’re not using both ends at the same time.
256GB HooToo iPhone flash drive
We’ve never heard of the HooToo brand until now, but this disc continues to appear in user testimonials, so they must be doing something right. At 256GB, it is a phenomenal value, while HooToo has also opted to use iPlugMate apps instead of its own proprietary solution.
Design is probably the main reason for its popularity. The sturdy metal construction and durable cap to protect the Lightning connector are much less likely to unplug the Lightning End of your drive. In a cap, it looks like any other flash drive.
With no SD card expansion available and available models with such a small amount of storage, using a flash drive for iPhone external storage might seem like a lifesaver. It doesn’t require a cloud connection, it’s the fastest way to back up and store files, and with the appropriate app, you often just need to plug it in for it to do its job automatically.
While the Lightning connector may disappear soon, the devices that use it will be around for years. So if you own an Apple device like this, you will definitely need one of these iPhone flash drives in your toolbox.