There’s a pretty clear indication that Meem is more than a basic phone charger. Right by the Micro USB or Lightning connector that plugs into your phone you’ll find what looks like a thumbdrive grafted onto the cable. And that’s pretty much what it is. The extra $20 you spend on the iPhone version of the cable gets you twice the storage: The Android version of the cable offers a disappointing 16 GBs of space, while the iPhone cable has 32 GBs.
When you plug Meem into your phone for the first time, the phone prompts you to download the Meem app. It’s free, and once installed, you set up a four-digit PIN for accessing data on the cable. The app then guides you through the Meem’s cleverly designed UI. Managing backups is done via taps and swipes, an abstract and confusing process until you get the hang of it. If you need a refresher, you can tap on the app’s background to read the guide again.
Your first backup will take a while, so it’s best to do it while charging overnight. Meem isn’t fast: It has a data-transfer speed of a gig every six minutes, so a 16-gig load takes more than an hour and a half. It appears to back up files in chronological order, so the last videos you shot may not make it to the Meem if its capacity fills up. Once the initial heavy lifting has been done, it gets much quicker: The system just adds new files on subsequent backups.
When it comes to putting all your stuff on a new phone, it works the same way. Plugging in Meem prompts you to download the app and enter your PIN. Once you do, you can start the loading process by dragging the Meem icon to the phone icon.
Meem is useful, but it has shortcomings beyond its limited storage space and slow speeds. The big one is that it can’t handle cross-platform data transfers: If you buy the Android version of the cable, it can only put your data on another Android phone. Same deal with the iPhone cable. And while it’s nice to have PIN-protection for your files on the cable, a four-digit code is pretty bare-bones. If someone gets ahold of your Meem cable, it’ll probably be easier to crack that four-digit code than your phone’s lockscreen.
The biggest shortcoming for me is that while the Meem module may look like a thumbdrive, it lacks the same plug-and-play capabilities with a computer. It doesn’t let you dump your phone backup to a PC or external drive, although Meem says it’s exploring ways to do that. Still, Meem does exactly what it says it does—albeit slowly at first, and with limited management tools. If you want a cloud-free way to keep your phone’s photos, contacts, and music, this is a clever and easy way to do it.