Hyper iStick versus SanDisk iXpand

 Hyper iStick versus SanDisk iXpand
Hyper iStick (Left) and SanDisk iXpand (Right).

The Hyper iStick was the world's first USB flash drive to have a USB connector with an Apple-certified Lightning connector, according to its manufacturer, Sanho Corporation.

It lets you transfer data such as music, pictures and documents, between computers (PC and Mac) and supported iOS devices without the need for iTunes syncing or cloud storage.

Now SanDisk, known for its USB flash drives and memory cards, has launched a rival that it calls iXpand.

Digital Life takes both for a spin.


The Hyper iStick is a rectangular USB flash drive, about twice the width of regular USB flash drive, with a lever on top.

The build is quite plastic and lacks a premium feel.

Slide the lever towards the iStick logo on top of the device and the USB connector emerges from one side. Slide the lever the other way and the Lightning connector emerges from the other side.

This makes it convenient to use, but the downside is that one connector will always be left exposed and susceptible to damage if the device is stuffed into a bag with other accessories.

Furthermore, as the iStick is quite wide, it may block an adjacent USB port on your laptop.

The iStick uses a USB 2.0 connector, so its transfer speeds will be slower than those of USB 3.0 flash drives.

Moving a 12.6GB folder of video clips from my MacBook Air to the iStick took nearly 48min, but moving the same to my LaCie P9210 USB 3.0 drive took only 14min.

For the iStick to work with your iOS device, you need to install the companion mobile app.

Plug the iStick into your iOS device. A prompt will ask if you want your device to communicate with the iStick. Tap Allow to start the app.

In the app, you will see four options - Apple iPhone (or iPad), iStick, Contacts and Photo Library.

Tap the iStick icon to access the files stored in the iStick. You can transfer documents from the iStick to the iOS device's local storage here.

If you have videos - even those in mkv or flv formats - stored in the iStick, you can watch them without first copying them to the iOS device. But you can access only those files stored using the iStick app.

The app lets you back up your contacts and copy photos or videos from your iOS device's photo library to the iStick.

Copying a total of 464 pictures (749MB) from my iPad Air to the iStick took 8min 50sec.

To support both Windows and Mac, the iStick must be in FAT32 format. This means it is unable to hold any file that exceeds 4GB.


If you think the iStick is big, you will find the iXpand humongous. About the size of a match box, it is nearly twice the size of the iStick.

Many laptops have USB ports close to one another, so once the iXpand is plugged into one USB port, it is sure to block another.

But with its sleek metallic shell, the iXpand has a better appearance and feels better than the iStick.

Its USB connector, protected by a plastic cover, is sited on one side of the body. The Lightning cable resides in the iXpand's front (with the SanDisk logo facing you) via a flexible rubber arm you can pull out.

The arm can be turned by as much as 180 degrees to connect with the iOS device at any angle. As the iXpand's Lighting cable sits inside an indentation in the middle of flash drive, it is less vulnerable than the iStick's.

You will need the iXpand Sync app to use the flash drive.

The app shows you the contents of the iXpand by folders in one list. You can create new folders to store different documents.

You can tap on any file to view it. Swiping the file to the left will reveal three dots arranged vertically. Tap on the dots for more options, to share a file over AirDrop or move it to another folder, for example.

The app's Camera Sync option lets you set up automatic syncing of your pictures in your iOS device to the iXpand. However, I prefer to back up my photos manually.

Like the iStick, the iXpand uses a USB 2.0 connector instead of USB 3.0. So I expected its transfer speed to be about the same as the iStick's. But it was much faster.

That same 12.6GB folder of video clips took just 14min to move from my MacBook Air to the iXpand, about the same time taken for the folder to move to the LaCie P9210 USB 3.0 flash drive. This is much faster than iStick's nearly 48min.

But backing up the 464 pictures (749MB in all) from my iPad Air to the iXpand took a slow 65min, much longer than the iStick's 9min.

The iXpand also uses the FAT32 format so that files can be readily read by both Windows and Mac PCs. As such, you cannot transfer any single file or stream any movie that is bigger than 4GB.

Overall verdict

The iXpand is bigger and slightly heavier than the iStick, but it has a more premium feel and better looks. The iXpand Sync app also has more functionalities than the iStick app, which is more basic.

That said, I still prefer the iStick as it is smaller and lighter, features that are vital in a USB flash drive.

Hyper iStick

Price: $89.95 (16GB), $119.95 (32GB), $179.95 (64GB), $349.95 (128GB)

Weight: 10g


Design: 3/5

Performance: 3/5

Value for money: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

SanDisk iXpand

Price: $88 (16GB), $128 (32GB), $188(64GB)

Weight: 29.7g


Design: 4/5

Performance: 3/5

Value for money: 3/5

Overall: 3/5


This article was first published on Mar 4, 2015.
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