The best external storage options for iPhone and iPad

Not having enough storage space on your iPad or iPhone is an issue that’s all too common. The unfortunate thing is that there’s no way to upgrade the internal storage on your device when that happens. You’re just supposed to take your best guess at how much space you’ll need at the time of buying your phone or tablet. But thankfully, you can now use external storage like a flash drive or hard drive with them. And in this article, we’ll look at the ones you should get.


Can iPhone use external storage?

With the release of iOS 13 and iPadOS, the Files app now supports external storage devices. This means you can plug in a flash drive or even the same portable hard drive you have for your laptop and be able to see the contents of the drive. So, if you’re the type of person who likes to store music, pictures, or even movies onto your external hard drive, then this is great news for you.

Even with external storage, you don’t want to waste the space you have on your iPhone. Your photo library can bloat to dozens of gigabytes. But you can use Gemini Photos to quickly delete duplicate photos and similar pics to free up space.

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Lightning Flash drives for iPhone and iPad

When you’re looking to get a flash drive specifically for your iPhone and iPad, it’s best to look for one with a Lightning connection. This ensures that you won’t need any special cables or adapters, unless you’re using a newer iPad Pro that has a USB-C port instead of Lightning connection. Then, of course, you’d need a USB-C to Lightning adapter.

SanDisk iXpand for iPhone Flash Drive: Best iPhone flash drive

The SanDisk iXpand is the perfect Flash Drive for your iPhone and your computer. It has both a Lightning connector and a regular USB connector to plug into your laptop. But what sets this flash drive apart from the others on this list is the Lightning connector is about the same width as your charging cable, which means it should work with most iPhone cases.

SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive on Amazon


HooToo iPhone Flash Drive: Portable flash drive for iPhone

Like the SanDisk, the HooToo Flash Drive has both a Lightning and USB connector on either end of the drive. The HooToo is a little more compact, though, making it slightly more portable. The downside is that this drive is thicker on the Lightning side, so you might have to take your phone or iPad out of its case to use it.

HooToo iPhone Flash Drive on Amazon


LIY7 Pen Flash Drive: Pendrive for iPhone

The LIY7 Pen Flash Drive is the only drive on this list that is more than just storage. That’s right — it’s also a pen. But before you jump to the assumption that it’s a pen you can use on your iPad or iPhone, know that it’s not a stylus. It’s a pen for writing on paper. 

 LIY7 Pen Flash Drive on Amazon


External hard drives for iPad and iPhone

If you’re hoping to get an external hard drive to use primarily with your computer but want to make sure it’ll also work with your iPad or iPhone, there’s a couple of things to keep in mind. External hard drives are bigger than flash drives, so you want to make sure you get one that’s portable. By that, I mean one that is powered by the USB port and doesn’t need to be plugged into a power source. 

Another thing to be aware of is that all of these drives only work with a standard USB port. This means you’ll have to use Apple’s adapter to convert it to a Lightning connection.

LaCie Rugged Mini Hard Drive: Best external hard drive for iPhone

The LaCie Rugged line of hard drives is popular for people with laptops. The rugged design, which helps protect it while traveling, has been a significant draw. And that’s one of the reasons why it’s great for your iPhone and iPad. If you’re a heavy traveler and need to use the drive with your devices frequently, then this would be a great drive for you.

LaCie Rugged Mini Hard Drive on Amazon


Seagate Portable Hard Drive: Easy-to-use iPhone and iPad Hard Drive 

Seagate’s portable hard drive is great, especially if you plan on mostly keeping it on your desk or in a drawer. While it’s compact and lightweight design makes it easy to toss in your bag and take with you, it lacks any extra protection from potential travel damage. So, if you don’t need it to travel with you every day, it’s an impressive drive and at an even more impressive price.

Seagate Portable Hard Drive on Amazon


WD My Passport Wireless Drive: Wireless external backup for iPad and iPhone

Probably the most expensive drive of the bunch is WD’s My Passport Wireless Drive, and for very good reason. This is the Swiss army knife of portable hard drives. While you can connect to it via the USB cable, you can also connect to it over a dedicated wireless network. Some iOS apps, such as FiLMiC Pro, will allow you to capture video directly to the drive. And you can even use the drive as a backup battery pack simply by connecting your iPhone to it with the Lightning to USB cable.

WD My Passport Wireless Drive on Amazon


iPhone and iPad USB drives

If you find yourself going back and forth between your iPad and iPhone, you’ll probably want to get a USB drive that can easily connect to both. For most iPads, any Lightning flash drive will work just fine, but iPad Pro has a USB-C port instead. The drives below are ones that will work regardless of what port your iPad has.

SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive: Wireless thumb drive for iPhone

This first flash drive from SanDisk gets around the port problem entirely by allowing your devices to connect to it wirelessly. But unlike the Western Digital drive mentioned earlier, this is a true flash drive, so it’s a little more portable. This is something you can keep in your pocket, and, of course, it has a standard USB connection so you can plug it into any of your devices using a dongle.

SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive on Amazon


iDiskk 4-in-1 Flash Drive: Reliable USB flash drive for iPhone and iPad

iDiskk offers a unique flash drive that has four different connections built in. You can connect the drive to Lightning, USB-C, standard USB, and Micro USB ports. That alone makes this the perfect flash drive if you plan on using this with more devices than your iPhone and iPad.

iDiskk 4-in-1 Flash Drive


Samsung Duo Plus Flash Drive: Best iPad Pro external storage

The Samsung Duo Plus Flash Drive has both a USB-C and standard USB connection, which makes it an excellent device for your iPad Pro. And thanks to the standard USB connection on the other end of the stick, you can connect to your computer or even your iPhone with Apple’s Lightning to USB adapter.

Samsung Duo Plus Flash Drive on Amazon


Now that your iPhone and iPad can use external storage, you don’t have to worry as much about running out of space. But before you rush out and buy the cheapest or largest drive you can find, you should think about some of the other uses you might have for it. Maybe you want to use it on both your iPhone and iPad, or you want a flash drive that doesn’t force you to take the case off your phone. Or you could be looking for a USB drive that you can use for your iPhone and your computer. After all, that’s the beauty of thumb drives — the simple fact that they’re portable and can be used with a range of devices.

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