November 2022 Ian Chiu
Most generic thumb drives are a dime a dozen but there are other types of flash drives available to suit different kinds of use. They include high performance, dual interfaced, low profile, durable, high security, and novelty. After reviewing no less than twenty flash drives, we’ve picked five that are the best there are in their respective categories.
$41.03 for 256GB
DT microDuo 3C
$29.31 for 256GB
$23.97 for 128GB
$35.99 for 256GB
$39.89 for 256GB
|Drive Type:||High-performance thumb drive||Dual-head flash drive||Mini flash drive||Durable flash drive||iPhone flash drive|
|Interface:||USB 3.2 Gen 2x1 10Gbps|
|USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps|
(Type-A & Type-C)
|USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps|
|USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps|
USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps
|Storage Options:||256GB - 1TB||16 - 256GB||32 - 128GB||32 - 256GB||64 - 256GB|
|Software:||None||None||None||None||Sandisk iXpand iOS app|
|Dimensions:||82.2 x 22 x 9mm||30 x 16.6 x 8.4mm||17.3 x 15 x 7.5mm||15.6 x 40 x 11.7mm||50 x 15 x 8mm|
|USB Plug Protection?||Retractable connector||Rotating cap||Cap||Cap||Swivel design & extra cap|
|Build Material:||Plastic||Plastic cap, aluminum body||Plastic grip, aluminum body||Metal unibody||Plastic|
|Color(s):||Black||Purple cap, silver body||Black||Frozen black, silver||Grey|
|Release Date:||Aug 2021||May 2022||Oct 2019||April 2018||March 2021|
|Warranty:||5 years||5 years||3 years||5 years||2 years|
Pricing is last updated by Amazon on 2023-01-29 at 10:00. When you buy through Amazon affiliate links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Our choice is Kingston DataTraveler Max. It is built for speed with a raw capacity of 1TB. Powered by Silicon Motion’s SM2320 UFD controller, it is the industry’s first SSD packaged in a thumb drive whose performance not only outclasses all the thumb drives we’ve tested but also rivals that of some USB 3.2 SSDs.
The USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 (10Gbps) flash drive also comes in both USB-C and USB-A variants but you can always grab an adapter to expand compatibility. Our only caveat is that the drive encased in a plastic body is not as durable as we would like it to be.
Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3C is our favorite when it comes to dual flash drives. Like other drives in the same category, microDuo 3C is meant to serve as a bridge between contemporary USB-C and legacy USB-A ports. As such, it can be used to exchange gigabytes of data between different platforms effortlessly without waiting for files to sync with cloud.
DataTraveler microDuo 3C only has a rotating cap to protect its USB-C plug, leaving the USB-A exposed. Another option is Sandisk Ultra Dual which opts for a nifty slider design to reveal and hide its USB connectors. Our only gripe with both of these drives is their disappointing low write speeds.
Both Lexar JumpDrive S47 and Samsung FIT Plus 3.1 are worthy of our recommendation. The former can write faster than other mini drives we’ve tested but the latter can outperform the pack in read speeds. Of these two, JumpDrive S47 is the smaller one and only protrudes just 5mm from the edge of a laptop.
To manage expectations, these low-profile drives are not exactly built for speed but serve well as semi-permanent media storage for laptops and car stereos. They are pretty handy in freeing up space on a laptop’s internal SSD for other mission-critical applications.
Sandisk iXpand Luxe is our choice for the best iPhone flash drive. The latest generation of iXpand improves upon its predecessor with its swivel design and metal construction. Such a drive serves well whether you need to back up newly-filmed 4k video assets or playback media files encoded in a wide variety of formats. Sandisk’s iOS app is also fairly polished and stable after years of updates.
Sandisk iXpand Luxe however likely is the last of a dying breed. There will not be much demand for storage devices with dual Lightning and USB interface when future iPhones are began to adopt USB-C in 2023. By that time, USB-C flash drives will take over as the de facto external storage solution for future iPhones. That said, there are still millions of iPhone owners out there who will hang on to their devices so they will need something like Sandisk iXpand Luxe for on-the-go backup.
Samsung BAR Plus is by far the most durable everyday flash drive we’ve tested. It comes with a metal unibody design adds to its toughness. Compared to other drives that are mostly all-plastic affairs, Samsung BAR Plus’s solid construction is quite reassuring. We didn’t call the drive the most rugged because people would have higher expectations for its survivability. In fact, Samsung BAR Plus hasn’t received an IP rating yet it is water-resistant, dust-proof, shock-proof, and magnet-proof.
There are extremely rugged drives that truly live up to their names. In most cases, they are made with a proprietary material that is designed to survive impacts, immersion, intense pressure, and even fire. If you have special requirements, there are plenty of storage options available. They usually come at a price premium as they are usually accompanied by a long warranty period and data recovery service.