Review: Kingston Bolt is an easy way to add extra storage to your iPhone or iPad

Posted:
in iPhone edited December 2018
Kingston Bolt is a dual-purpose Lightning/USB drive that effortlessly allows you to store or backup photos and videos from a compatible iOS device.

Kingston Bolt
Kingston Bolt flash drive

An all-too-common problem

Apple has taken some flak for its decision not to include much storage on entry level devices, often requiring users to make tough decisions on what to keep and what to delete.

Also a factor is the fact that many users don't necessarily trust cloud storage with their precious photos, which means they need some form of physical backup for safe keeping. Manually backing up to your Mac is an option, but that requires proximity to a desktop which isn't always convenient.

The situation has given rise to accessories like Bolt, which have started to crop up as users look to aftermarket storage alternatives.

Metal doohickey

Kingston Bolt
Kingston Bolt Lightning and USB-A


Bolt is a minute, metal device with an Apple-certified Lightning connector on one end and a USB-A port on the other. Going from your computer to iPhone or iPad is easy -- assuming your Mac or PC still has USB-A hanging around.

There's no USB-C here, which means the new iPad Pros aren't invited to play, and neither are the latest Macs (at least without an adapter).

The native app

When first plugged into your iPhone, an alert appears asking you to download the Bolt app. Unfortunately, iOS can't handle drives directly, hence the third-party app requirement.

After launching the app, and making sure Bolt is connected, a pleasant-looking dashboard is presented, complete with a pair of graphs highlighting the amount of remaining storage on the local device and the connected Bolt.

Kingston gives you three actions to take: shooting footage straight to Bolt, moving files to Bolt or viewing the files on Bolt.



Moving photos and videos over is as easy as you would imagine; simply choose a folder or album and select the assets you would like to store on Bolt. You can then delete the local files or keep them as a backup.

Alternatively, you can film or shoot pictures directly to Bolt, cutting out the intermediate step of storing them -- even temporarily -- on your iPhone. This is a great feature, especially if you plan on shooting a ton of footage.

The downside of shooting directly to Bolt is that you are limited to 4K at 18fps, 1080p at 30fps, or 720p at 30fps. Natively, there are many better filming options.

Wanting more

Kingston Bolt
Kingston Bolt


Using the Kingston Bolt app is easy and painless, but does highlight the needs within iOS for direct-interfacing with external storage. You can't, for instance, access the Bolt's storage directly from the Files app.

This shortcoming isn't Kingston's fault, who is trying to make the best of a bad situation. That said, the Bolt app is a well implemented solution working with iOS's walled garden.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Where to buy

If you find yourself bumping against the storage limits of your iPhone and could use Kingston's help, you can find the Bolt on Amazon starting at $34.99 for the 32GB version, with 64GB and 128GB capacities available.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    I would trust cloud storage far more than a small easy-to-misplace device that stores everything on a single flash chip.
    gutengelmacpluspluswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 13
    does the software send data to third party data analytics firms like Sandisk’s does?  I almost bought one from Sandisk till I saw a screen shot of that part of the software agreement in the reviews of the drive.  
    stanthemanblah64watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 13
    therfman said:
    I would trust cloud storage far more than a small easy-to-misplace device that stores everything on a single flash chip.
    Cloud storage isn’t an answer when video sizes are 10s of GB’s.
    blah64airnerd
  • Reply 4 of 13
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,959member
    therfman said:
    I would trust cloud storage far more than a small easy-to-misplace device that stores everything on a single flash chip.
    Cloud storage isn’t an answer when video sizes are 10s of GB’s.
    That's not necessarily true.  I spent about 5 minutes searching for "version control for video files" and found this:

    https://bitbucket.org/mats_ekberg/boar/wiki/FAQ

    If you're interested in the technical details, check the answer to "If I make a small change to the contents of a huge file, will Boar store the change efficiently?".

    And no, that's not my project.  I was just curious about whether there was something out there designed to work incrementally with large data files.  I'm sure there are other solutions out there.
    edited December 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 13
    therfman said:
    I would trust cloud storage far more than a small easy-to-misplace device that stores everything on a single flash chip.
    You have a strange definition of "trust".  Remind me never to trust you with the keys to my car, or house, or well, anything.

    [ Edit: here's why trusting any 3rd party is dangerous.  Clearly this was not on purpose, but it happened.  https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/12/14/facebook-says-bug-may-have-briefly-exposed-photos-of-68-million-app-users ]

    Having your data on a removable, backup-able flash drive is absolutely, unequivocally, safer than cloud storage because it's not an either/or, it allows you to easily back up to your own computer and/or external drives that you can make copies of as well.  Not to mention seanismorris' comment about large file sizes.

    Your thinking that the files would only reside on a small flash-like drive is a sad statement.  If this device works as advertised it's an easy means of having control of your own data, and it doesn't require ongoing monthly fees.  I'll be keeping an eye on this as a potentially great solution for my mobile devices, which always seem to be nearly full due to taking so many photos and videos.

    One thing I will say is that it would have been nice if they'd attached a little ring on this so you can keep it on your key ring.  The beauty of something like this is that it's small enough and convenient enough that it should be in your pocket at all times -- maybe it needs a little cover, but that's fine.  Without this I'm afraid it's not going to be as convenient as it should be.


    edited December 2018 airnerd
  • Reply 6 of 13
    docbburk said:
    does the software send data to third party data analytics firms like Sandisk’s does?  I almost bought one from Sandisk till I saw a screen shot of that part of the software agreement in the reviews of the drive.  
    This is a great point as well, but it also extends to many, MANY apps on your mobile devices.  Go look at your iPhone permissions and see how many apps you've given permission to access your photos, or location, or camera, or microphone, or worst of all, your contacts.

    We still don't have the iPhone equivalent of Little Snitch (outbound firewall), and we desperately need it.  That would shut down most of the spyware crap that resides in our so-called "free" apps.  People would be shocked to see how many different 3rd parties are getting "analytic" (surveillance/profiling) data from all the apps/games they use every day.

    My solution for this is that I simply don't open apps like this when my devices are connected to the internet.  That's not a great option for most people, but it works for me
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 13
    I wonder how this compares to the Leef iBridge flash drive.
  • Reply 8 of 13
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,558member
    Not having an iOS level ability to manage files is the biggest limitation these days preventing my iPad Pro replacing a mobile computer completely. This whole discussion on whether or not there is a risk of the app for this device phoning home is just another example.  The app is only needed because Apple doesn’t have proper file management in the OS.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,116member
    Is this only for video file storage, not photos or documents?
  • Reply 10 of 13
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 622member
    therfman said:
    I would trust cloud storage far more than a small easy-to-misplace device that stores everything on a single flash chip.
    You may, but I don't. While I may misplace a USB drive I know it is still in my house and 100% within my control. I own a device like this one, not the one reviewed but does the exact same thing (lightning and USB-A) that I used to store additional movies for my sons ipad when we were on a cruise recently. Worked flawlessly and never needed to pay for the ships wifi. Now I use it as another quick backup of photos if need be.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 622member
    blah64 said:
    therfman said:
    I would trust cloud storage far more than a small easy-to-misplace device that stores everything on a single flash chip.
    You have a strange definition of "trust".  Remind me never to trust you with the keys to my car, or house, or well, anything.

    [ Edit: here's why trusting any 3rd party is dangerous.  Clearly this was not on purpose, but it happened.  https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/12/14/facebook-says-bug-may-have-briefly-exposed-photos-of-68-million-app-users ]

    Having your data on a removable, backup-able flash drive is absolutely, unequivocally, safer than cloud storage because it's not an either/or, it allows you to easily back up to your own computer and/or external drives that you can make copies of as well.  Not to mention seanismorris' comment about large file sizes.

    Your thinking that the files would only reside on a small flash-like drive is a sad statement.  If this device works as advertised it's an easy means of having control of your own data, and it doesn't require ongoing monthly fees.  I'll be keeping an eye on this as a potentially great solution for my mobile devices, which always seem to be nearly full due to taking so many photos and videos.

    One thing I will say is that it would have been nice if they'd attached a little ring on this so you can keep it on your key ring.  The beauty of something like this is that it's small enough and convenient enough that it should be in your pocket at all times -- maybe it needs a little cover, but that's fine.  Without this I'm afraid it's not going to be as convenient as it should be.


    Exactly. The drive isn't my end all be all for backing up, but it's very handy for a quick backup until I can get home. I have a backup system for my photos and home videos across multiple HD's. A bit redundant but I know they are always safe and in my control.
  • Reply 12 of 13
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,318member
    "Using the Kingston Bolt app is easy and painless, but does highlight the needs within iOS for direct-interfacing with external storage. You can't, for instance, access the Bolt's storage directly from the Files app"

    I cannot say this loudly enough. iOS 12 and still we have to jump through hoops like this.


  • Reply 13 of 13
    I wonder how this compares to the Leef iBridge flash drive.
    The Leef app broke with iOS 12 and they didn't seem willing to update it. I hope that has changed by now.

    What I want to know is: do any of the apps work with generic USB-C sticks or USB sticks in USB-C docks with the 2018 iPad pros?
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