Our electronically connected age brings with it a continual concern: Battery life. The continual evolution of phone cameras and the prevalence of social media means we’re also chewing up storage. When we initially saw the Sandisk Ixpand charging pad and storage, it caught our interest so much so, we had to take a look at it.

What is it?

The device itself is somewhat larger than many other single device charging pads. It’s not unsightly, however, with some sleek curves and a perfectly sized area for even large phones to sit.

From a day to day, practical perspective, it’s a wireless charging pad for your mobile phone. The magic comes when you plug it in and pair it with the app. The Ixpand Wireless Charger Sync is also a physical storage medium for your photos that doesn’t require manual storage management, or continued cloud storage costs.

With two storage options (64GB and 128GB) users who take regular photos will be relatively well catered for. The cost is pretty reasonable too with the 64GB coming in at $169.00 and the 128GB at $199.00 outright. Although if you take a lot of photos, even 128GB may be a bit short on storage, a larger capacity self storage opiton may suit but will be more expensive.

How does it work?

The wireless charger sync connects to your Wi-Fi and, when you’re at home the sync process silently starts in the background. This is probably the biggest issue I had — there are a few more — during setup, the amount of time it took to sync my photos wasn’t particularly quick. It took a couple of days with the sync seemingly running in bursts when the phone was actively charging. Once the first sync was completed, follow up sync of photos was perfectly acceptable in terms of time.

In terms of the actual charging, it’s a Qi charger and works with just about everything that has wireless charging capabilities. Perhaps it would have been better if there was 15W charging but 10W is more than enough to provide you with a steady charge. Depending on your phone, this almost certainly won’t rival the speed of standard wired charging.

There are a couple of key features worth mentioning as they protect not just the Wireless Charger Sync but your mobile device too:

  • Temperature control and adaptive charging for battery protection
  • Charging your phone is the trigger for sync to begin
  • Set the app to clear space on your phone once they’ve been backed up
  • Up to three backup profiles available – allowing multiple family members to use the device securely

What I found to be particularly useful was the fact that you don’t need to change any routines to use it. Everyone needs to charge their phone and charging triggers the sync.

There are some issues to cover

There are a few issues that users need to know about before buying one of these, lets start at the top.

The charging works well, when you hit the “sweet spot” most people will recognise with Qi charging. The specs say that it is compatible with cases, but our testing showed that some cases do cause issues. We tried a few phones on the charger with varying success:
A phone adorned with a TPU case was fine every time, as was a phone with a manufacturer’s case on it. When we tested with a case that’s designed for a higher level of protection, charging didn’t always work but it did trigger the foreign object detection.

I also found that the sync, while good, wasn’t reliable if your phone and the charging pad were on different bands on a dual-band network. There are ways to ensure this isn’t a problem on most routers by separating 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz networks, but that’s not ideal in many cases.

The other issue that I felt really shouldn’t have been one, is the fact that they’ve used MicroUSB as a PC connector if you choose to manually retrieve or view your pictures. Surely, it can’t have cost more than a dollar more to switch to USB-C which everyone has plenty of cables for these days?

Is the experience worth the money?

Yes, there are a couple of issues that probably need to be looked at for any future versions of the charger sync from SanDisk. In fact, it really is a great idea and very functional for a lot of users. It’s a pretty reasonable cost for what you get at 64 or 128GB of storage if you consider the $70 or so for a quality 10W wireless charging pad.

Would I buy one?

For me personally, probably not at this stage for a couple of reasons. If you’re after storage, then there are cheaper ways to get it such as a Google One subscription at $25 per year for 100GB – it takes a few years to rack up the $120.00 or so for the difference between a wireless charging pad (only) and one with storage. There are, of course, advantages to both options – with cloud storage you’ve got instant scalability available at a consistent cost and with the Wireless Charger Sync your files are physically stored onsite.

The charging is good most of the time, but if you’ve got a thick case you might struggle a bit. For many users, those issues are possibly going to be non-issues, provided that’s the case – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you put this on the purchase radar.

The convenience of not needing to manually backup or trigger a backup for your photos cannot be overstated. For someone who doesn’t necessarily want to invest in a cloud option and doesn’t want to fork out the big money for an option like a NAS, this is a perfect starting point. As we’ve said already, the Ixpand Wireless Charger Sync could be a touch better executed, but there’s no doubt once setup it works well and meets a common market need.

If this is sounding like a good stocking stuffer for you, or someone you love then Officeworks is the place to grab one.