Since the introduction of microUSB flash drives at CES earlier this year, we’ve been wondering when we would see a similar product arrive for the iPhone and iPad. However, that day has finally arrived.
Hyper, the makers behind those robust MacBook battery packs that we love so much, have come up with a Lightning flash drive that works with iPhones and iPads.
It’s called the iStick, and it comes with a retractable USB plug on one end and retractable Lightning connector on the other end. It’s a short and fat flash drive that can easily fit into a pocket, but one caveat as that both plugs on either end can’t retract at the same time — one end has to be sticking out, unfortunately.
It works by plugging into your Mac or Windows PC where you transfer files over the iStick just like you would with any ordinary USB flash drive. Then you just plug the Lightning end into an iPhone or iPad and fire up the iStick companion app where you can manage all of the files that are stored on the iStick. From the app, you can watch videos, listen to music, view photos and view documents — no need to copy all of the files to the iOS device first, as the files will simply work right from the flash drive.
Of course, you can use the iStick to transfer files from a computer to your iOS device, but there are far easier solutions that can do a better job. Mainly, iStick is seen as a tool to expand the capacity of your iPhone or iPad.
Perhaps one of the best features if the iStick is that the built-in video player and play all sorts of filetypes and isn’t restricted to Apple’s own requirements, meaning that you can watch .MKV, .AVI and .WMV videos.
The iStick comes in various storage sizes: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and you may be thinking that this could be a better buy than spending an extra $100 to upgrade the built-in capacity of an iPhone or iPad, but the iStick isn’t cheap. Just the 8GB model will retail at $79, while the 128GB iStick will be priced at $299. You can take advantage of early bird specials on the product’s Kickstarter page, but even those prices are a bit on the steep side when compared to regular flash drive.
Obviously, the iStick only works with the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPad 4, iPad mini, iPad mini with Retina display, iPad Air, and the iPod touch 5th Generation, and the company doesn’t make 30-pin versions.
Why Is iStick So Expensive?
The iStick is much more expensive than a typical flash drive, but this is most likely because of the Made for iPhone licenses that Hyper had to pay for. This is a similar situation for MFi gaming controllers, which are way more expensive than console controllers, but the license to use Apple’s technology isn’t cheap, and these companies are swinging that cost back to the consumer to pay for.
A 32GB iStick will retail at $129, but a 32GB USB 3.0 flash drive (like our favorite SanDisk Extreme) can be had for around $30-$40. This is a huge difference in price, but the inclusion of the Lightning connector makes the iStick a unique product, and thus, you’ll be paying big time for it.
However, is it worth it to trade-in and upgrade your iPhone or iPad to the next storage tier or just buy an iStick? Which option is most cost effective?
iStick vs. iPhone Upgrade
Is buying an iStick better than just upgrading your iPhone or iPad to the next storage tier? In some cases, yes.
If you want to upgrade your iPhone to the next storage tier, it will cost $100 for each step you take, like going from 16GB to 32GB or going from 32GB to 64GB.
If you currently have a 16GB iPhone, but want to bump that up to 32GB, it’ll cost $100 if you do it through Apple, and it’ll cost the same amount if you buy a 16GB iStick. However, the price increases with more storage.
So if you have a 32GB iPhone, but want to bump it up to 64GB, it’ll still cost you $100 through Apple, but you’ll have to pay $129 to get a 32GB iStick. Similarly with an iPad, it’ll cost you $100 to go from 64GB to 128GB through Apple, but a 64GB iStick is priced at a steep $179.
How much extra money you’ll spend depends entirely on how much more storage you want. More often than not, it’s cheaper to upgrade storage capacities through Apple, but the iStick offers a lot of flexibility an functionality, which could be beneficial to a lot of users, and the extra cost may be worth that to some iPhone and iPad owners.