The Best External Drives For Smartphone Photographers

One of the downsides to smartphone photography is that our phones have a limited amount of photo storage. Though the exact amount of storage varies by phone model, it’s safe to say that if you take a lot of pictures on a regular basis, you’re going to eventually run out of space.

So, what do you do with all those photos? You could save them to the cloud, but for many reasons, you may want another option. If you’d prefer not to upload your photos to the internet, an external hard drive is your best alternative.

Portable hard drives are available in a range of sizes to suit everyone’s needs. They’re also quite small and relatively lightweight, so if you’re a mobile photographer who travels frequently, you can bring your storage with you.

Of course, the internet is a big place full of options, so how do you know which portable drive is the best? Keep reading! We’ve scoured the internet for the latest and greatest storage options and have found the three best external drives in 2021.

External Storage For Cell Phones


Most smartphones come with internal storage ranging from 64GB to 512GB but what do you do if you need more? While Google Photos and the iCloud are useful for storage they don’t allow you to offload your photos and videos efficiently and without wifi. External drives, on the other hand, do both those things quite well and that’s why we’re looking at three of the best options on the market in 2021.

For context before discussing these smartphone SSDs, I can shoot three complete Youtube videos on my 128GB iPhone 11 Pro before I run out of storage – that’s a lot of photos and videos. That being said, if you’re on a backpacking trip where wifi is sparse then one of these is an absolute must. The size of external drive you should choose though depends on your circumstances – don’t buy more storage than you need, you know?

G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD

G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD review

If you need storage that’s rugged enough to withstand frequent travel, the G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD is for you. This tough portable drive features IP67 water and dust resistance, 3m drop proof, and 1000lb crush resistance. It’s also shock and vibration resistant.

If you’re not familiar with portable drives, it’s important to note that these features are crucial in preventing data loss and system failures due to accidental drops or bumps. Even if you’re careful with your equipment, accidents can happen, so it’s important to be prepared.

This drive also has insanely fast transfer rates at up to 560MB per second. Unlike slower drives, you can transfer your photos quickly and move on to your next task. The G-Drive Mobile also features a USB-C port with USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface, so no matter how old your smartphone is, this drive will work.

G-Technology has generously included both a USB-C to USB-C cable as well as a USB-C to USB-A cable. With these cables, you can also transfer your photos onto your laptop for editing if you choose. If you’re working with a smartphone, remember that you’ll need a USB-C to Lightning adapter.

The G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD measures 94mm x 50mm x 14.5mm and weighs just 86 grams. This drive is so portable you can toss it in your gear bag and forget about it until you’re ready to transfer your photos.

One of the best things about the G-Drive Mobile is that it comes in three storage size options. Whether you need 500GB, 1TB, or 2TB, G-Technology has you covered. Depending on the option you choose, expect to pay between $139.95 and $299.95.

SanDisk Portable SSD Extreme Pro

SanDisk Portable SSD Extreme Pro review

The SanDisk Portable SSD Extreme Pro is perfect for the mobile creator on the go. If you need storage with super-fast transfer speeds and plenty of space for your photos, this external hard drive is exactly what you’re looking for. Not to mention, it’s sleek and stylish too.

SanDisk has outfitted this drive with lightning fast NVMe technology for transfer speeds up to 1050MB per second. Whether you’re transferring photos from your smartphone to the drive or the drive to your laptop, you’re not going to be wasting any time.

The rugged case features an IP55 rating for dust and water resistance. Whether you’re caught in a sudden rain or are shooting in the desert, you won’t need to worry about your storage being affected by your environment.

The Extreme Pro comes with both a USB-C to USB-C cable as well as a USB-C to USB-A cable. This means it’s compatible with any laptop so you can get to editing sooner. Remember, depending on the type of smartphone you have, you may need an adapter to transfer your photos to the drive.

This powerful, pocket-sized external drive comes in three options: 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. Whether you need a little extra storage or a lot, SanDisk has the drive for you. The Extreme Pro is priced at just $119.99, 199.99, and $369.99 respectively.

LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Drive 

LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Drive  review

The LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Drive is a rugged and versatile option for any mobile photographer or filmmaker. Depending on the size you choose, you’ll be able to store thousands of photos and hours of footage. All in a pocket-sized and totally portable package.

LaCie has thoroughly tested their Rugged Drive and guarantee that it is drop proof up to 4 feet, water resistant, and crush resistant up to one ton. This drive will withstand nearly anything, keeping your images safe and sound no matter where you take it.

Whether you’re caught in a rainstorm on your way to a shoot or your gear bag gets jostled around at the airport, the stylish and vibrantly colored case will protect your precious photos and videos.

The LaCie Rugged has three options: 1 TB, 2TB, and 5TB. The 1TB and 2TB drives measure just .73” x 3.38” x 5.21” and weigh only .22 pounds. When they said portable, they meant it! The 5TB is slightly larger at 1.02” x 3.38” x 5.31” and .88 pounds. No matter which option you choose, you’re getting a ton of storage in a tiny device.

Like the other options on our list, LaCie has included both a USB-C to USB-C cable as well as a USB-C to USB-A cable. Since the drive is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers, you’ll also be able to effortlessly transfer your photos from your phone to the drive to your laptop. 

Just remember that an adapter may be needed depending on the type of smartphone you shoot with.

The best feature of the LaCie Rugged USB-C Drive might just be the price. The 1TB option is priced at just $84.99, making it a perfect choice for the mobile photographer on a budget. The 2TB option is $109.99 and the 5TB is an incredible $179.99. No matter which option you choose, you’re sure to get plenty of storage without breaking the bank.

External Drives for Smartphone Photography

External Drives for Smartphone Photography

You’ve shot a whole bunch of mobile photos and videos for a client and you have them saved on your external drives but you don’t want to physically give them your extra storage – what if they don’t give it back?! Fortunately you can share photos and videos in more efficient ways if you know how.

Do you prefer different external drives than the ones we’ve included in this post? Let us know about them in the comments so that we can compare them to those on our list.

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