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Not buying a new iPhone? This flash drive will give your old one a new lease on life

One of the top reasons that people upgrade their iPhones is a lack of storage space. Buy this drive and save hundreds of dollars.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
PNY Duo Link

The PNY Duo Link.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Apart from a worn battery and broken display, a common reason people upgrade an iPhone is that there is no more storage space. And, more often than not, what's behind all that storage consumption will be photos.

But just mass-deleting photos is a bad road to go down because you're invariably going to lose sentimental photos and either be sad or get into trouble. On the flip side, sorting through photos can be a huge waste of time (although there is some excellent software that can help you sort the wheat from the chaff). 

Also: What to expect from Apple's 'Wonderlust Event'

So, if you don't want to delete things and you don't want to be tied to paying iCloud storage fees, a great option is to back up photos to a flash drive that will connect to both your iPhone and a computer.

Enter the PNY Duo Link Lightning and USB-A flash drive

View at Amazon

Specs PNY Duo Link specs

  • Capacity: 64-256GB
  • Interface 1: Lightning Connector
  • Interface 2: USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
  • Compatibility: USB 3.2 Gen 1/USB 3.0 equipped host devices, backward compatible with USB 2.0
  • Device Compatibility: iOS devices and a USB 3.2 Type-A connector for PC and Mac systems
  • Operating System Compatibility: Compatible with iOS 10 and later, MacOS 10 and later, and Windows 7 and later
  • Operating Temperature: 5 to 35 degrees Celsius 
  • Storage Temperature: -20 to 60 degrees Celsius 
PNY Duo Link drive in hand

PNY Duo Link drive is small but well-built.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

There are a lot of drives like this out there, but not many come close to the quality of this one. PNY is a respected company in the storage, memory, graphic card, and motherboard business, so you know you're in good hands.

Also: This charging cable with a twist works on every device, even your new iPhone 15

The drive is solidly made, featuring a durable metal construction with laser-engraved markings (a great touch because stickers and ink wear off easily). This is more than robust enough to put up with day-to-day use and life on a keychain.

Solid, metal construction with laser etched print

Solid, metal construction with laser-etched print.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

A plastic cap that covers the Lighting connector clips securely over the connector. This is the sort of thing that I will almost certainly lose, and when I do, I'm not going to worry about it. Lightning connectors are surprisingly robust.

It's a nice touch that the Lightning connector is long enough to be used when the iPhone is in a thick case. I hate having to take my iPhone out of its case to use accessories, so it's a pleasant surprise to find something that's been designed with this in mind. 

Also: Apple fans will dig this stylish new 3-in-1 charger from Nomad

To use this drive on the iPhone, you need the PNY Duo Link 4 app. This handles the interface between the drive and the iPhone. Using this app, you can move selected photos and videos, back up your entire library, and even transfer documents and other media.

PNY Duo Link 4 app

PNY Duo Link 4 app.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

You can also use the app to password-protect the drive, but if you do this, you won't be able to use the drive on a Windows or Mac system.

Password-protecting the drive

Password-protecting the drive.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The reviews for this software aren't great, but I've tested it with the drive on a number of iPhones and had no problem whatsoever, so I can't comment on what problems people are having. 

Also: The one iPhone 15 Pro upgrade I need is basic, reasonable, and disruptive

Performance-wise, the drive isn't a speed demon, and I was getting approximately 60MB per second in tests. But since this is specifically for backing up the iPhone, I don't see this performance limitation as an issue.

Benchmark testing the PNY Duo Link using MiniTool Partition Wizard 12

Benchmark testing the PNY Duo Link using MiniTool Partition Wizard 12. 

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

With prices starting at $25 for a 64GB drive and increasing to $55 for the 256GB version, this is a cheap and effective way to get beyond your iPhone storage issues. It's not as perfect a solution as having the photos on your iPhone, but it's a very cost-effective way to get a few years out of your iPhone while saving you hundreds of dollars. 

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