Quick Review - Leef iOS MicroSD Reader. If you can deal with the quirks, it's almost like Android

It's about the size of a small USB stick that we used to use on PC's and it fits rather snugly into my iPhone7. The main feature is that it does not have a set amount of storage, but relies instead on you inserting a MicroSD card into it.

The apparent benefits of course seem quite obvious. The shortcomings are not quite as obvious.

  1. Reads just about any microSD you have lying around, the one from the camera, or the one you used in your Surface PC or Android phone. Has to be formatted as Fat32 or ExFat however (more on this later)
  2. Once inserted, if accompanying app is installed, lets you view a nice panel to show images, play music, documents, etc, or anything else stored on it. I placed MicroSd card into my PC, copied over about 300 songs (2 gigs) from my PC onto the MicroSD in about 20 seconds, popped it out of PC, into Leef, Leef into iPhone Worked perfectly. Wow, I can see the days of trying to sync iTunes to get stuff INTO my phone as I leave for work might be a thing of the past.
  3. Ditto with images. I simply placed the SD card first in my computer, copied over a folder of 1000 photos, removed from PC, placed in Leef, then into phone and showed me all the images. Process took about 10 seconds. You could never upload and sync files this fast.
  4. I took about 20 photos on my phone and it easily copied over all 20 to the device (and I told to remove from phone memory) and yet I could still easily view them in the devices unique gallery app. 
  5. Was able to likewise copy photos from the SD card, back into the iPhone camera app gallery with no problems.
  6. It fits snugly into the Lightning port. No sense yet that it will wiggle out during a day out and about. We'll see how this hold up over time.
And the end of the day, that's really all you need it to do. But there are some issues I ran into.
  1. Quirky. The app tends to disconnect whenever switching away from it into another app. When you come back to the Leef Mobile Memory app, it appears as if the device has disconnected. This drove me nuts for about 30 minutes as I pulled out and pushed back in the device until I quickly realized it wasn't a hardware issue, it was simply the App. Shut down the app, restarted it, and it tended to work perfectly again... until you messed around on your phone again doing something else.
  2. Fat32 vs ExFat. No it's not a new diet. It's the formatting method of these MicroSD cards. Before Windows 10, there was an easy way to format MicroSD's as Fat32 which is the preferred method to use the card among Android, Windows, and Mac's. Windows 10 came along and suddenly made it a pain to format larger Micro SD cards as Fat32 and instead only allowed ExFat. This device clearly prefers Fat32. And in reality, most MicroSD's bought in the store are preformatted as Fat32. It's just that I know from experience I've reformatted some of mine, used ExFat, and now trying to use this device it became a bit of an issue. In that case then, you need to then use a 3rd party tool such as "fat32Format" which I ran and worked perfectly. Or you can stick with Exfat and just have the device be a bit more quirky than it already is.
  3. Oddly (and disappointingly) enough, it takes up a large chunk of internal storage, and eats up more and more as you mess around with more and more photos and load them onto the device. I wrote the developer about this as it seems to defeat the purpose to some degree. I can only assume this is an iPhone-wide Cache issue that I've noticed in other iOS apps like Google Photos where the point is to SAVE internal storage, not use more and more of it. The only solution I found was to periodically uninstall the software (ditto with Google Photos) and reinstall. Doesn't take much time or effort but it's a little ridiculous. Apple needs to fix this.
  4. It's not Android. Other apps can't see this device or storage. This is "storage" and storage alone. Photos. Videos. Music. Some other misc files. But that's it.
  5. It does not come with the MicroSD card. But you knew that. This is the reader/writer only. I'm running mine with a 128gig MicroSD that I had in my Note 4.
For $39 it solves a storage issue, and storage alone, on iOS devices. It's great if you think you are headed out for the weekend and want to take many gigabytes of photos and videos and also want to drag along a large music library.

It does NOT solve the issue entirely of lack of internal storage and I was disappointed in how much storage it took up and how it grew and grew quickly. But then all iOS apps seem to do this which is frustrating. But I'm cool with knowing I can simply do a quick reinstall if need be.

I also like that it makes it 1000 times easier to get photos and stuff INTO the phone, not so much out of or storing them on the device. This is arguably the biggest benefit to me. Photos I can upload quickly to Google Photos on the fly and delete. But getting massive amounts of files, or a few large files ONTO the phone, was always an issue I dreaded with iPhones. This is clearly one area with Android that I always missed on iOS. Both devices are easy to get stuff off of them. But trying to copy that 3 gig website you just remembered to copy onto your phone while you rush off to work...

Forget about it.

Now with the Leef, getting stuff from my PC onto my iPhone is as easy as it was with my Android devices: Insert SD card into PC, copy, remove and place SD card into phone. It's nice to have that ability now on iOS.

Sort of.

And there is my 2 minute review.