K’ablekey review: Versatile iPhone flash drive doubles as Lightning charge cable

K’ablekey review: Versatile iPhone flash drive doubles as Lightning charge cable

Lightning-equipped flash drives have made transferring files between desktop and mobile devices a little easier, but all such products share the same limitation: They can only be used with a third-party companion app, and most of those aren’t very good. Until Apple graces us with true mobile file manager functionality, this is as good as it gets.

Key ring storage

French startup PKparis makes the best of this situation with the inspired K’ablekey, a versatile flash drive sold in a trio of configurations: 16GB (the model reviewed here), 32GB, and 64GB. Storage capacity aside, each model is identical, with a rounded metal hub that separates into a pair of wedges connected by a plastic-coated cable just a hair over two inches in length.

kablekey two up hardware PKparis

The innovative design of K'ablekey allows this dual-purpose flash drive to also charge iOS devices from any computer or USB adapter.

One wedge features a USB 3.0 plug capable of up to 120MBps read and 20MBps write speeds on Mac or PC, while the opposite side uses a Lightning plug for attaching to a compatible iOS device. The wedges are magnetically charged and snap tightly together, converting the K’ablekey cable into a loop that can be attached to a key ring; the entire flash drive weighs only 27 grams, making it quite portable.

Each plug is protected by rubberized orange caps that are removed as needed. Unlike competing flash drives like Transcend JetDrive Go 300 with easily misplaced plastic caps, PKparis has an ingenious solution to this problem. Not only can the caps be stacked together, but they’re also magnetized, so they can be attached to your Mac or the back of an iOS device while in use. K’ablekey is durable and rated for IP54 water resistance, although I do have concerns about the cable’s longevity; thankfully, each flash drive comes with a two-year warranty.

Charge and play

The unique design affords K’ablekey one big convenience over competitors: With the Lightning end plugged into an iOS device and the other to a computer or USB AC adapter, the flash drive serves double-duty as a portable charging cable. I wish PKparis had gone a step further by allowing you to transfer files the same way; iOS access is disabled while charging, although the flash drive is accessible when connected to Mac or PC.

kablekey pk memory video PKparis

K'ablekey offers fast video playback through the PK memory app, and files can be displayed as a list or in two sizes of grid view.

Like all iOS flash drives, K’ablekey’s storage can only be accessed via a free companion app. PK memory is serviceably capable, with support for most common video, audio, photo, and document file types and the ability to copy or move files between iOS and flash storage. Video playback is immediate, and the app saves photos and videos with native filenames, which is a plus.

Unfortunately, PK memory doesn’t play nice with others—there’s no support for iOS file sharing with other apps, native AirPlay or Chromecast capability, and it’s not optimized for larger iPad screens. The app does offer password-protected storage in a private partition, although the UI for doing so is a little clunky and unintuitive.

Bottom line

K’ablekey overcomes typical iOS flash drive limitations by doubling as a handy USB charging cable, but the free companion app isn’t quite as versatile.

IDG Insider

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