Sandisk iXpand Base for iPhone (review)

The Sandisk iXpand Base for iPhone/iPad/iPod is a cabled charge base (not Qi wireless). It can automatically back up photos, video and contacts when you charge.

I was initially excited thinking it was a Qi charger for the iPhone 8/X. But after using it for a few days, I see the logic of still using the Apple lightning cable for both data and charge.

Review Sandisk iXpand Base (Website here)

In the box

  • iXpand Base – 25.36 x 101.00 x 107.00 mm x 190g
  • 5V/3A micro-USB charger (15W)
  • An SD card – 32, 64, 128, or 256GB

The bottom of the base is aluminium. The top is a soft, textured non-slip rubber material. It is not an Applesque design. Neither elegant or ugly – more utilitarian.

You plug the 15W charger into the Base and your genuine Apple USB-A to Lightning cable (not supplied) into the underside of the base. The full-size SD card slips into the slot on the base. The card is local storage which is readable on a PC or Mac.

It works with any Lightning-equipped device including iPad and iPhone. We tested with an iPhone 8 with the latest iOS 11.x installed.

iXpand Base

Using the iXpand Base

Next, you download the iXpand Base sync app from the Apple app store. This is where you set up backup to the iXpand base.

You must give it access to photos, videos, contacts and allow notifications to back these up. It does not backup anything else – music or Office documents, e.g. docx, xlsx, ppt etc. We understand that Apple iOS only allows iCloud backup of any other files or system settings.

You can choose folders to back up, what to restore, what permissions to give it and see how much space you have left. The app does share ‘anonymous user data’ with Sandisk – turn that option off.

As soon as you connect the power, the base starts back up. After the first (and lengthy) backup, it only adds new material – that is a lot quicker.

It supports multiple users when the app is on their device, and separate backup volumes set up.

The user manual is here.

Simple – well not always.

Backup is incremental – it only copies new content since the last backup. Restore is everything – there is no option to restore a single or a group of files.

Don’t be surprised if the initial backup takes hours. Data transfer is theoretically at USB 2.0 speed of 480Mb/s (equal to 60MB/s or .06GB/s or 3.6GB per hour).

Our first transfer of 30GB of photos took over 25 hours or 1.2GB per hour. The real data transfer rate is closer to 200Mb/s (.025GB/s).

Of course, a lot depends on file sizes. A typical high-res photo is 5MB (.0005GB) but low-res can be under 100Kb (.005MB). The number of files, as well as size impacts, read/write speeds.

The 128GB U1 SDXC 1 card provided has an advertised read speed of 80MB/s but write speed (copying to the card) appears to be around 25MB/s.

We are unsure if the base supports faster U3 (95MB/s) and XCII U3 (300MB/s), but we expect it does not as the USB 2.0 data transfer speed would then be a bottleneck.

We did not try restoring times on the basis that we did not have a spare 12-15 hours to wait.

You can access the SD card on your Mac/PC via a standard USB-A to micro-USB cable or simply manually remove the card.

Rated speeds

Crystal DiskMark found sequential read/write (no bus or other impediments) at 41/33MB/s. But this quickly deteriorated to around 5-6MB/s read and 1.7-1.8MB/s write. These speeds are consistent with the tested backup time.

iXpand Base

iXpand Base not found

It often took up to a minute for the app to kick in – find the device and start downloading.

On one occasion the iPhone did not find the base when the power cable was connected. Repeated plugin/out did not work. We re-seated the SD card – no go. The solution was to force the App (that runs in the background) to quit and then relaunch the app.

Fast charging is a misnomer

The charger provides 5V/3A or 15W.

Apple defines its iPhone fast charge as providing 50% charge in 30 minutes. Only the Base does not do that taking about five hours from 0 to 100%.

The iPhone 8 Apple Fast Charge uses a 29W charger that delivers 14.5V/2A and 5V/2.4A. The higher voltage fills the first 60% (approx.) of the battery (hence 50% in 50 minutes), and the remainder is at 5V/2.4A.

iPhone 7 or earlier use a 5V/1A (5A) charger (not fast charge) and pouring in more amperage can speed things up a little. Apple do not recommend this.

GadgetGuy’s take – iXpand Base potential unrealised

Regarding backing up while charging it is fit for purpose. But it is not a proper fast charger nor a fast backup or restore device. Given the speeds achieved it is where you put your iPhone before you go to bed.

The lost opportunity is about Qi for iPhone 8/X and wireless backup (as Sandisk has done with its Sandisk Connect 200GB wireless Flash Drive).

And with NBN unlimited data and 100/40Mb/s download/upload it may be easier to back up to the cloud. Our preference would be an OTG compatible flash drive.

Pro

  • For a non-tech savvy user, it is fine but limited

Cons

  • Not sure why it did not simply use the iPhone charger as a passthrough
  • Not a full backup – no messages, email, music, system files etc
  • No drag and drop functionality
  • Restore is all or nothing
  • The app is basic and could do far more if Sandisk thought about it
  • Tech-savvy users will find too many faults and what ifs
  • Slow charge – not fast charge on iPhone 8
  • Slow backup speeds barely half of USB 2.0 maximum speeds

Price

JB Hi-Fi has the 64GB version for $149.

Look online at Amazon or eBay for far better deals. Just make sure you get an Australian socket charger.

Fakespot rating (Fake Reviews)

GadgetGuy will  endeavour to provide Fakespot ratings.

From 57 reviews on Amazon rating it an average of 3.5 stars. The Fakespot Trustwerty adjusted rating is two stars.

It states, “Our engine has profiled the reviewer patterns and has determined that there may be deception involved. Our engine has determined that the review content quality is low.”

Gadget Guy Ratings

As a backup and charging device, it is fit for purpose. But the speed of backup, limited file types and charge times take the shine off what could be a good concept.

  • Overall: 3 out of 5
  • Features: 3 out of 5 – it is a cabled charger, app and SD card
  • Value for money: 3 out of 5 – there are wild disparities between online and retail pricing.
  • Performance: 3 out of 5 – it adds no charge or performance increase over other backup systems
  • Ease of Use: 3 out of 5 – Very easy to set up. But lack of supported file types and selective restore make it more difficult than it needs to be
  • Design: 3 out of 5 – It may be well made, but there is no design component or elegance to match the Apple environment.