Review: SanDisk iXPAND Wireless Charger and Wireless Charger Sync

There’s no dearth of phones with wireless charging ability these days; some will even reverse-charge other devices placed on them. There’s no denying the convenience of a wireless charger around the home or office desk, and they are also closing in on their wired counterparts when it comes to charging speeds. SanDisk is not going for high-watt wireless charging, however. Its iXPAND Qi-compatible wireless chargers stick to the basics, and even include a power brick in the package.

What are they?

There really isn’t much to tell. The iXPAND chargers are Qi-compatible, which means they can charge Android or iOS-based phones that are compatible with the standard. They’re plain-looking plastic chunks that should blend into your decor seamlessly, save for the dangling wire that’s still needed for your ‘wireless’ charger. They’re also reasonably light, so I’d probably double-tape them down on my desk if I really wanted a charging pad around my desk.

The iXPAND chargers are Qi-compatible. Image: Tech2/Tushar Burman

The iXPAND chargers are Qi-compatible. Image: Tech2/Tushar Burman

The iXPAND Wireless Charger is a plain-Jane circular pad about four inches in diameter, with a rubber O-ring around the top so that your device doesn’t slide around. The Wireless Charger Sync, however, is a larger, lozenge-shaped pad with a concave surface that is a bit larger than an iPhone 13 Pro. It comes with built-in 256 GB of storage for automatic backups of devices. It’s less comfortable to use, and needs more care in placing the device on top of it. The charger comes with a nice 24 W SanDisk fast charger with a USB-A port and a 1.5 m USB-A to USB-C cable that powers it. The Sync version strangely comes with a proprietary charging brick with a circular DC socket. Also strange, the less fancy version supports 15 W wireless charging, while the Sync does only 10 W.

In use

With ubiquitous cloud computing and storage, I’m finding it difficult to justify the need for the Wireless Charger Sync. The idea is that the charger itself stores your photos, videos and contacts. It does this via an attendant mobile app and connects to your phone via Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi. Data transfers are done via Wi-Fi, so you’ll need to have the charger within range of your network for anything to work. This was the first red flag for me, since Wi-Fi is seldom the fastest way to transfer hundreds of gigabytes of data. Indeed, the iXPAND app recommends you allow for several overnight charges, during which the Sync will continuously back up your data until complete.

The Wireless Charger Sync comes with built-in 256 GB of storage for automatic backups of devices. Image: Tech2/Tushar Burman

The Wireless Charger Sync comes with built-in 256 GB of storage for automatic backups of devices. Image: Tech2/Tushar Burman

The Sync is compatible with iOS and Android devices using the attendant apps. Android devices back up just about everything to the Google Cloud, while Apple devices do this to iCloud. Over Wi-Fi. Continuously. And if you run out of space, you just up your subscription and buy more, as I have done. My 400 GB iCloud account overshoots the 256 GB included in the Wireless Charger Sync already. Still, if you must have control over your backups and keep them within your premises, then I suppose there is a use case for this device. Also, the Sync inexplicably has a large, purple LED along the side of the charger, mostly obscured by the bezel. There’s no way to see it unless you actually peer under the bezel at the right angle. Huh?

All this means that the charger is a complicated device. It has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, as well as some level of processor to do its thing. It needs firmware updates on occasion, as it did when I first started using it. I’m not sure I want this much complexity in my wireless charger for a redundant feature. Sure enough, Bluetooth flaked out at some point, and my backup stopped after only ten files. I couldn’t be bothered to move forward from there.

In real-world use, the Wireless Charger Sync is a complicated device. Image: Tech2/Tushar Burman

In real-world use, the Wireless Charger Sync is a complicated device. Image: Tech2/Tushar Burman

The simpler 15 W wireless charger is much less dramatic, but also much nicer to use. I like it’s grippy rubber ring that gives me a nice, positive feeling when I put my device down on it. There’s a dirt-simple blue/red LED that indicates blue when charging, flashes red when an incompatible device is on, and it points straight up so you can see it. It’s a bit small and can be obscured by the charging device, but better than the generally invisible one on the Sync. It also charges faster than the more complicated sibling. I prefer it to Apple’s own MagSafe charger, because it stays on the desk as I intend to use a wireless charger.

Verdict

The iXPAND Wireless Charger is available for Rs 2,699 with the included 24 W charging brick on Amazon, at the time of writing, while the Wireless Charger Sync is available for an astonishing Rs 9,299 for the 256 GB variant (64 GB and 128 GB variants also available). The standard wireless charger is easy to recommend as a package, since it comes with everything included. If you are considering buying the Wireless Charger Sync, I want to be invited to the same cruise ship parties you are.