We were pretty impressed with Leef’s iBridge Mobile Memory stick when we took a look at it earlier this year, and now the company is back with another similar Lightning-based storage solution in the form of its new iAccess ($50) — a Lightning-only device that uses a micro-SD card rather than packing in its own internal storage. Sporting a similar design to the iBRIDGE, the iAccess also uses the same free Leef Mobile Memory app for transferring and accessing files stored on the accessory, although it lacks the USB connector on the other end, instead relying on removable microSD cards to store and transfer data.
iAccess sports a more basic white plastic casing rather than the matte rubber and black plastic casing of the iBridge, although it uses the same curved design that folds under the attached iOS device — a nice touch that allows it to be connected and used much less obtrusively than many other similar devices we’ve seen — and comes in a little bit shorter than the iBridge at 1.6” long. We especially like the fact that Leef thoughtfully designed iAccess to be case compatible — an important feature in a device that you’ll realistically want to carry around with you and insert on the go. While you’re not necessarily going to be able to insert it into rugged cases, we found that it fit without any issues at all when your iPhone was encased in most standard protective cases such as the Speck CandyShell.
A microSD card slot is placed at the bottom of the iAccess, where it curves under, providing easy access to inserting and removing cards without too much fumbling. Inserting a microSD card is just a matter of pushing it in until it clicks; the card will insert all the way into the iAccess, sitting flush and not protruding at all. Removing the card involves pushing it in again to eject it, in a manner similar to many other SD card slots. iAccess omits the USB port found on iBridge, although users with SD card readers on their computers can still simply move the microSD cards back and forth between the iAccess and their Mac or PC.
The iAccess package includes only the accessory itself, which contains no internal memory, so you’ll need to supply your own microSD card to use it — capacities from 8GB to 128GB are supported. While it would have been nice to see at least one small microSD card included to get users started, the pricing is not unreasonable considering that the entry-level iBridge starts at $60 for a 16GB model, and 16GB microSD cards can be purchased for $10 or less. Further, iAccess gives users the option of using any microSD cards they already have, and since the device seems to be marketed to users of action cameras and drones that use this format, we can see some value in keeping the price down by allowing users to supply their own microSD card rather than bundling something that many users might not need.
As with many recent iOS accessories, the strength of Leef’s iAccess lies in the design of its app, and as we mentioned in our review of the iBridge, Leef has done a very good job here — the company’s Mobile Memory app is one of the best we’ve seen for iOS memory solutions. While it doesn’t have every bell and whistle, it does a great job providing all of the necessary functions you would need, with a clean and straightforward user interface. The app remains basically the same as from our earlier review, so we won’t go over it all again here, although it’s worth mentioning that in addition to the ability to transfer files, view and play back content, and take photos directly to the iBridge and iAccess devices, you can now also record video directly onto the memory card – a nice addition that will make both of Leef’s memory devices even more useful for users of lower capacity iPhones or who might otherwise be tight on available storage.
iAccess is a nice addition to Leef’s mobile storage devices for iOS users, and provides a great alternative for users who prefer removable storage — it provides a very affordable storage option for anybody who already has a collection of microSD cards laying around. At the entry level, the cost for the iAccess and equivalent storage is comparable to the iBridge, while at the high end you could actually come out quite a bit ahead — the 128GB iBridge sells for $200, while you can purchase 128GB microSD cards for as little as $50 on Amazon, bringing the total price of a 128GB iAccess configuration to half the price of the equivalent iBridge, while also providing the ability to more easily change out the storage. Even Leef sells its own standard class 10 microSD cards for considerably less, with a 64GB card coming in at $36, making the total price of a 64GB iAccess $86 versus the $120 price tag of the 64GB iBridge.
At the end of the day, however, both devices are targeted at slightly different audiences; the included USB connector gears iBridge toward users who want to quickly and easily transfer data back and forth from just about any Mac or PC and their iOS devices, while iAccess focuses on removable storage, making it easy to get your action cam shots onto your iPhone or iPad, or keep a larger collection of movies and other videos handy on removable media. Either way, however, unless you really need the USB capabilities that iBridge offers, there’s no doubt that iAccess provides more bang for your buck.
Company and Price
Compatible: Lightning iOS devices