Flash drives for iPhones can be an easy way to expand your phone’s storage. Before buying one, here are some of the things you need to know.
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In this article:
- There are Various Ways to Use Flash Drives For iPhones
- Look for the “Made for iPhone” Certification
- USB Flash Drives for iPhone Contain the Lightning Connector
- You Can’t Charge Your Device at the Same Time
- They’re Dependent on Manufacturer-Specific Apps
- How Useful the Flash Drive is Depends On How Useful Its Companion App Is
- DRM-locked Won’t Work
7 Things to Remember Before Buying A Flash Drive for iPhone
1. There are Various Ways to Use Flash Drives For iPhones
Here are some of the ways you can use an iPhone USB drive:
- Additional storage: iOS devices’ storage space is non-upgradeable. For those who get devices with the smallest storage and don’t want to use iCloud, flash drives are especially good for transferring files that aren’t frequently used.
- Storage for Large Videos: For those who shoot a lot of videos (especially if they tend to be long and/or high-resolution), a flash drive is useful to free up space.
- Means to Transfer files between iOS and PCs: If you’re a Windows user and wouldn’t be able to use AirDrop, a flash drive is your best solution if you want to transfer files from your phone to your computer.
- Camera Roll Backups: Depending on how large your Photo Library is and how fast the flash drive’s transfer rates are, iOS flash drives will be able to back up entire camera rolls.
For some types of users, iPhone flash drives are a good form of temporary storage. Photographers and video makers who work in the field especially, since they’d need a way to offload files to another storage device without running out of space in the middle of shooting crucial footage.
A flash drive would allow them to stow files without the need for a computer. Just make sure not to forget to pack those power banks before leaving the house to ensure the iPhone doesn’t run out of battery life.
2. Look for the “Made for iPhone” Certification
USB flash drives for iPhones typically have the “Made for iPhone” (MFi) certification on its packaging. This means that Apple has certified the flash drive to work seamlessly with your iOS devices.
If the flash drive isn’t certified to work with iOS, you would find that when you insert the flash drive to your iOS device, the message “This cable or accessory is not supported” appears. Another message that would pop up is that the device draws too much power from your device.
Even if you don’t get the alert, the device would likely not detect the flash drive properly.
Worse, they could even damage your entire device. Fortunately, Apple released a list of ways to determine whether your Lightning flash drive is counterfeit or uncertified.
3. USB Flash Drives for iPhone Contain the Lightning Connector
iOS devices only accept devices that contain its proprietary Lightning connector. This significantly limits your choices when it comes to flash drives.
While there are Lightning-to-USB adapters that attempt to bridge this gap, they only work with devices like cameras and MIDI controllers. Otherwise, you would again get the message that “This cable or accessory is not supported.”
This is where iPhone USB drives, which already come with the Lighting connector, come into the picture. No adapters or dongles needed.
4. You Can’t Charge Your Device at the Same Time
Since flash drives don’t provide their own device power, even the best flash drives for iPhones have this problem. There are splitters that allow your iOS device to work with two accessories at the same time, but they’re meant to work with things like audio accessories, not flash drives.
Large file transfers, like entire camera rolls or batches of 4K videos, might not have a chance to complete before you have to take them out for a quick charge. To mitigate this, make sure your device is fully charged before transferring a large number of files.
5. They’re Dependent on Manufacturer-Specific Apps
The best flash drive for iPhone is as capable as its companion apps, for which you’ll be able to download through an invite link displayed when you plug the device in.
The companion apps handle everything the flash drive can do, from backing up photos and videos, to playing back media. If the manufacturer stops updating the app, you might not be able to use the flash drive in future iOS versions.
Before purchasing a flash drive, it’s best to check the manufacturer’s website to see which third-party media playback apps the drive supports.
6. How Useful the Flash Drive is Depends On How Useful Its Companion App Is
Some flash drive apps (like Sandisk’s iXpand app) allow you to send files to other apps and export from internal storage to your flash drive. Other apps take this the next step further with built-in encryption features that secure your files with either Touch ID or a password.
However, some other apps don’t have such a rich feature list. This is especially true with flash drives from generic manufacturers.
7. DRM-locked Won’t Work
That huge iTunes library you amassed over the years? Don’t expect them to work in your iPhone flash drive. This is because iTunes media is protected with its own Digital Rights Mangement (DRM) system.
The flash drive apps wouldn’t be able to access your iTunes files since only iTunes will be able to decode the DRM. If you decide to stow your library away to another storage, you have no choice but to stream it on your device.
DRM System Definition: A Digital Rights Management or DRM system is a mechanism that protects data from unauthorized distribution or use.
A flash drive for iPhone has a number of uses that can benefit any iPhone user, from file transfer to storage and backups. However, note that it has certain limitations and features vary for different iPhone USB drives.
We hope this guide has helped you understand more about what a USB flash drive for iPhone is, and how it can benefit you.
How would you use a flash drive for iPhone? Let us know in the comments section below.