SanDisk iXpand Base review: Backup early, backup often

Backing up your data is one of the first things you learn when you use a computing device. Save early, save often, back up your stuff. IT administrators have been preaching this for decades. In the world of mobile, backing up can be both easier and more complicated. In the world of iOS, it can be even trickier. Fortunately, the king of data storage, SanDisk, has your back with the SanDisk iXpand base.

This device is a phone stand designed to charge your phone quickly, and back up your data at the same time. You’re going to plug in your iPhone every day anyway, right? So as long as you’re doing that, why not make a backup of your photos and data at the same time? That’s SanDisk’s philosophy when it comes to the iXpand base.

Cloud be gone

The iXpand base is a phone base that you can set your phone on. Once you plug in your lightning cable, the iXpand base automatically launches the iXpand app and checks for new data on your phone. Maybe you added a contact, or took a few photos. If it finds any, it downloads them to the onboard SD card. The file transfer is very fast, even during the initial setup.

The benefit here is that you don’t have to rely on cloud services to back up your photos or contacts. iCloud offers basically no space for free. Yes, I know, it’s 5 GB, but your phone is bigger than that. Google photos works on iOS, but Google Photos only offers unlimited space if you allow your photos to be compressed. This way, there is no compression and once the photos are transferred to the SD card, you can access them on your computer.

Solid construction

The construction of the SanDisk iXpand is very solid with a metal base. On the bottom is a grippy circle which stops the device from moving around. The top is a rubberized, textured surface that holds your phone in place. The top and bottom are separated by a channel in which you can wrap your lightning cable, to keep things tidy. The base station is powered by a microUSB port on the back, and a plug that ships with the device.

There are a few downsides to this device, however. First, as the name implies, it is designed for iPhone and iPad only. It is nice that the device will work for multiple phones/tablets – they stored separately on the card as needed. But limiting your device’s usefulness is a bit of a bummer. The iXpand doesn’t even ship with a lightning cable. Presumably, a user already has one, but that is a solid serving of weak sauce.

Left out

Also, since the device has a USB type-A port on the bottom, making the device Android compatible would be simply a software issue – make an app. I’m not a developer, nor do I play one on TV, but it seems like it should be possible to create an Android equivalent of an app. Then, simply plug the correct cable into the bottom of the device.

Considering this device is meant to be a phone stand – make it a phone stand. Right now, it’s a grippy phone base, that you set your phone on top of. But it makes a lot more sense in my world to design this as a stand with the lightning plug already built in. Just slide in your phone, it plugs and connects automatically.

Hefty price

The price for the device starts at hefty and moves up from there. The SanDisk iXpand Base is available at major retailers, with U.S. manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRPs) of 32GB/$49.99, 64GB/$99.99, 128GB/$129.99 and 256GB/$199.99. That seems to be a bit on the high side to us, but maybe your uncompressed photos mean that much to you. What I can tell you is that the device itself is high quality, no worries there. You will need to balance the price against the function.

That being said, this is a very capable device and quite handy in a world of shrinking phone storage. Knowing that your photos are backed up is simply invaluable without having to pay the recurring monthly fee for iCloud. Plus, the fast charging of the iPhone helps you top off the juice that much faster. Since you’re plugging in your phone every night anyway, may as well set it down on something classy looking and back up all of your data at the same time.