Phone Expander iOS Space Saving App for iPhone and iPad – Review
Despite what Apple claims, 128 GB may simply not be enough.
If you are perennially running out of storage space on your iPhone or iPad, there may be a solution, a new Mac app called Phone Expander.
While the space problem has come to a head when performing upgrades (the release of iOS 8 highlighted the issue as thousands of users were told by their devices that they didn’t have enough free space to perform the upgrade), it’s also a problem because Apple devices don’t provide any options for expanding storage.
The size of the operating system on iPhones has come into question as well. Indeed, a class action lawsuit filed in January alleges that the Cupertino-based company failed to disclose that the iPhone’s operating system could take up almost one-quarter of an iOS device’s available storage capacity.
However, Phone Expander, created by two software companies, Nice Mohawk Limited and Magnetism Studios, and currently in public beta, may be of help.
Phone Expander is an easy-to-use tool that identifies unnecessary files on an iPhone or iPad. It finds and can manage three categories of files: cache files inside apps, large apps installed on the device, and pictures and videos. Eventually it will be able to manage music files as well.
Setup is easy, at least on paper. The first time I installed Phone Expander, on a 16 GB iPhone 6 Plus, it caused my Mac to repeatedly type the letter “i” in an IBM Sametime window. I had to power down the MacBook in order to stop it.
The second time around, it installed flawlessly but it had trouble detecting the iPhone connected via a USB cable to the Mac. Unplugging the iPhone and plugging it back in resolved that issue.
The app showed that the iPhone had 742 MB of cache files, a large amount of storage considering that only 11.4 GB is useable on the device due to the size of iOS 8.
Cache files include downloaded copies of newspapers and magazine articles, Facebook posts, game information and more, but none of it is necessary for the corresponding app to be used.
It’s possible to select which cache files will be deleted but I opted to delete all.
After using the tool, the iPhone showed a modest increase in available storage, going from 2.5 to 2.6 GB. This was very different from the three-quarters of a gigabyte that the Phone Extender app said it had deleted.
Running the app again, it showed I now had 21.95 MB of cached files, down from 742 MB.
Next, I turned to the Remove Apps feature, which shows a list of all installed apps, sorted by size. I was surprised to see that the game Elevate took up almost 350 MB of space, making it the number one candidate for removal. After reviewing the list, I instructed Phone Expander to remove 11 apps for a total of 692.5 MB of space.
Confusingly, the app told me it had removed 72.5 MB of iPhone apps when it was done, but the iPhone showed that we now had 3.2 GB of available storage.
I was not able to test the Clear Photos aspect since this particular iPhone is using the iCloud Photo Library beta and storing its images internally. However, the feature allows users to backup photos and videos to a Mac and then delete them from the phone, thereby freeing up more space.
The Phone Expander app is not only useful but it’s really the only game in town for those trying to slim down their storage requirements. It’s free as a beta although it will probably cost between $10 and $15 once it’s released. The company says there are no plans for a Windows version at this time.
Despite the bugs I encountered (excusable in a beta), I will continue to use the app and highly recommend it to others.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)