Western Digital recently introduced its newest SanDisk-branded backup product for iOS devices, the SanDisk iXpand Base, which combines nightly charging with backing up to make for an easy and intuitive way to protect your data.

The idea is to put the iXpand Base on your nightstand, plug it into the wall, and then plug your iPhone into the Lightning port at night. This charges the iPhone and allows it to transfer your photos, videos, and contacts to the Base for the purpose of backing up.

ixpandbase3

Design

The iXpand Base is a palm-sized tapered surface that's designed to serve as a sort of platform on which to rest your iPhone while it charges at night. The bottom of the base is made from aluminum, while the top is covered in a soft, textured rubber material that keeps the iPhone securely on its surface.

ixpandbasedesign
At the back, there's an SD card slot that houses an SD card where your backups are stored and there's a microUSB cable that is attached to a plug that provides power to the Base.

ixpandbasesdcardslot
Underneath, there's a spot for the USB-A side of a Lightning cable to plug in, and you will need to supply your own Lightning cable with this product. Once set up, the Lightning cable plugs into your iPhone and a backup automatically starts upon connection if the accompanying SanDisk iXpand Base app is installed.

ixpandbaselightningcable
Design wise, I'm not sure what to say about the iXpand Base. It's just a flat, slightly tapered surface where your iPhone sits. It's not much to look at and adds no utility to the iPhone -- I would have preferred to see a dock-style design for a cleaner look and better nightstand functionality.

ixpandbasedesign2
It doesn't take up much more space than my iPhone 7 Plus on the table next to my bed (though it is wider), but it looks messy with the white Lightning cable paired with the black cord coming out of the back of the device.

iphoneonixpandbase3

Backing Up

When you have the SanDisk app installed, as soon as you plug the iXpand Base into your iPhone, it will start a backup and begin charging the phone at the same time.

The backup feature scans your last backup, adds new photos and videos, and makes sure you consistently have a full resolution copy of your photos, videos, and contacts.

ixpandbasebackingup
Unfortunately, the iXpand Base can't be used when it isn't plugged into a power source. So if you wanted to take it on the go to use it as a portable storage solution without the charging component, that's not possible because it can't draw power from the iPhone.

An iPhone will only connect to the Base and start backing up when the Base is plugged into the wall, making it useless without power.

If you attach a microUSB to USB-A cable to the microUSB port on the Base, you can connect it to your computer to view the files stored on it and add additional files, but SanDisk does not provide one of these cables. The Base also doesn't connect to the iPhone when plugged into the computer. Files transfer over to a computer at USB 2.0 speeds.

Alternatively, you can also remove the SD card from the iXpand Base and stick it in the SD card slot of your computer if your computer has an SD card. The SD card is hard to remove from the base, though, and many modern Macs don't have an SD card slot anyway.

App

The iXpand Base app can work in the background to back up your iPhone as soon as it's plugged into the Base at night, which is a useful feature. Once it's been installed and an initial backup has been completed, subsequent backups will happen with no interaction on your part.

Just plug it in at night and the app starts the backup process. You'll see a banner on your iPhone letting you know it's in progress.

ixpandbasenoconnection
The app itself is bare bones. You can sync photos, videos, and contacts to your phone using the backup feature, but there's no option to sync individual files or photos to the Base from an iPhone.

The first time I synced my photo library, it took about 20 minutes, but each nightly backup has been much quicker. Restoring my backed up photo library to another phone was simple to do in the Settings section of the app, but it took awhile to transfer the files.

ixpandbasesettings
In addition to storing your photos, videos, and contacts, the iXpand Base app can be used to view, share, and manage them, but only when your iPhone is plugged in to the Base and the Base is plugged into power.

At some point during the testing process, the iXpand app duplicated several of my photos. I'm not sure what went wrong, but having duplicates in my backup is a huge hassle because they all need to be manually deleted and they take up twice the storage space.

I have a 128GB iPhone and the 128GB iXpand Base, and because it makes a full photo/video backup you'll need to buy a capacity that matches up with how much data is on your phone. SanDisk sells these in 32, 64, 128, and 256GB capacities. There is multi-user support, so with the larger capacities, multiple iPhones can be backed up.

Bottom Line

The SanDisk Base is a clever idea, but I was left feeling like it could have been implemented in a better way, especially at its $50-$200 price point. Not being able to connect my iPhone to the Base to view my files while it isn't plugged in is inconvenient.

When it comes to design, the flat puck of the Base feels like a lazy choice. The Base offers no benefit over putting the iPhone on a nightstand, and because I have to supply my own Lightning cable, it's no more convenient or stylish. I think this concept would have worked better with a dock style stand that allowed the iPhone to sit in an upright position, and given the size of the base, it seems like the components could have been built into that form factor.

iphoneonixpandbase2
While I liked the idea of being able to back my iPhone up automatically without thinking about it, I don't think this is a better solution than the small iXpand Lightning/USB Flash Drives SanDisk offers, or similar products from other companies. Those are more affordable, portable, and offer more functionality because they have both Lightning and USB-A connectors, making it easier to transfer files between devices.

If all you want is an effortless table top backup solution that does little else, the iXpand Base will provide that, but you can get more for your money with other backup and file transfer products.

If you do like the look and function of the iXpand Base, it's worth noting that it supports swappable SD cards. I'm not sure why someone would buy anything other than the lowest capacity version. It's cheaper to buy a standalone SD card and swap it in than it is to buy one of the higher capacity models.

How to Buy

The iXpand Base can be purchased from the SanDisk website. The 32GB model costs $49.99, the 64GB model costs $99.99, the 128GB model costs $129.99, and the 256GB model costs $199.99.

Note: SanDisk provided MacRumors with a 128GB iXpand Base for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

Tag: SanDisk

Top Rated Comments

ApfelKuchen Avatar
54 months ago
Agreed, this is not a comprehensive backup. It's a copy of specific data. To me, that's not a "backup" at all, as in "We've got your back." I'd consider "backup" to be misleading marketing.

Still, it has utility for certain purposes. To those who want multiple backups of their photos (not at all uncommon among serious photographers), this is a reasonably useful method for when a computer is not convenient/available. Then there are those who would rather avoid cloud-based photo storage/backup (whether iCloud, Google, Drop Box, or photo-sharing site). However, at the price, it's not likely to save money over paying for cloud storage. It also may be attractive for those who want an alternate method of transferring images from iPhone to other devices.

It's possible to do a hybrid backup - photos on this device, remainder of backup to iCloud (turn off photos backup in iCloud settings). However, that only complicates matters when a restore is required.

Overall, it's not at all attractive for my needs, but that doesn't mean others can't love it.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bingeciren Avatar
54 months ago
I don't think it is a substitute for the encrypted iTunes backups. With a full restore, I want to be able to restore everything, like messages, call log, health data you name it and practically continue from where I left.

I guess it is better than nothing however. I see so many people at The Genious Bar getting their phones replaced or renewed having a conversation like this:
- but what's going to happen to my data?
- Do you have a backup of your phone?
- uh no I guess not.
- then sorry, there is not much we can do.
- oh no but they were really important for me.
- sorry.....
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AlphaHumanus Avatar
54 months ago
My wife has an ixpand and loves it, I’ll definitely be picking this up.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
341328 Avatar
54 months ago
I don't mind the flat part of it, but they should sell a model that has more than one USB port or a top that has a apple watch charger. Seems lazy not to do more than one USB port for charging cables.
You charge your phone all night next to your head. I would never do this. I like the fact the Apple Watch doesn't have cellular.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...
maxresdefault

Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak Discuss iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, Privacy, Shortcuts on Mac, and More

Saturday June 12, 2021 6:12 am PDT by
As is tradition, Apple executives Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak joined Daring Fireball's John Gruber in an episode of The Talk Show to discuss several announcements that Apple made over this weeks WWDC, including iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and a large focus around privacy. Federighi kicks off the conversation discussing the common architecture, now thanks to Apple silicon, across all of...
M1X MBP Feature

Leaker: Upcoming MacBook Pro to See Price Hike Over Current Model, Equal Performance Across 14 and 16-Inch Sizes

Tuesday August 24, 2021 5:28 am PDT by
The upcoming 14-inch MacBook Pro is set to be more expensive than the current 13-inch MacBook Pro and both the 14 and 16-inch models will offer the same performance, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." The leaker shared the information on Twitter, explaining that both of the upcoming MacBook Pro models, expected to come in 14 and 16-inch sizes, will feature the same performance due...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
YouTube Picture in Picture Feature

YouTube Premium Subscribers Can Now Use iOS Picture-in-Picture: Here's How

Wednesday August 25, 2021 3:55 am PDT by
Google has rolled out picture-in-picture support as an "experimental" feature for YouTube premium subscribers, allowing them to watch video in a small window when the app is closed. If you're a premium YouTube subscriber looking to try out picture-in-picture, follow these steps: Launch a web browser and sign into your YouTube account at YouTube.com. Navigate to www.youtube.com/new. Scroll...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
twitterqrcode

Twitter Introduces QR Codes for Sharing and Following Accounts

Wednesday November 16, 2016 4:13 pm PST by
Twitter today introduced Snapchat-style QR codes, which are designed to make it easier to find and follow friends on the social network. Each Twitter QR code is unique to an individual Twitter user, so when scanned, it'll bring up the person's account. To access your Twitter QR code, you'll need the official Twitter app for iOS. In the app, go to your profile, tap on the gear icon, and select...
macOS Monterey on MBP Feature

Apple Seeds Sixth Beta of macOS Monterey to Developers

Monday August 30, 2021 1:11 pm PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth developer beta of macOS Monterey, the newest version of the macOS operating system. The sixth beta comes three weeks after Apple released the fifth macOS Monterey beta. Registered developers can download the beta through the Apple Developer Center and once the appropriate profile is installed, betas will be available through the Software Update mechanism in...