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Lightning to USB Cables - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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The Lightning connector was introduced by Apple® on the iPhone 5®; it continues on the 5C and 5S and is likely to continue in use for a good few years. It is an Apple proprietary design, complete with a chip that assigns connections, so imitations are destined to fail. 

Lightning cable
Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/

White Apple Lightning cable and connector

As Apple® products go, this one is a failure with many connectors breaking, always at the Lightning end. If you have an iPhone with a Lightning® socket then you will probably need replacement charging/syncing connection within a year. There are a few different options available.

None of them is totally satisfactory because there are issues with the Apple connector in every case. To some extent you get what you pay for. Cheap options you find on the local market will either not work at all or will fail within a week. Apple-branded cables will still fail eventually, but do work for longer than imitation ones.

What’s the Answer?

  • Search sites with reviews and find the best compromise on price and quality for you. Never buy wires that have no reviews and even if you find one with good reviews resign yourself to dealing with it failing at some point in the near future.
  • Look around and find a cable with a lifetime warranty.

The Alternatives

There are three or four Lightning to USB cables available on Amazon.

Apple® Cable

This OEM cable is about $18

Reviews are roughly two thirds (66%) 4* and 5*, but that still leaves one third of customers dissatisfied. More customers were happy when they bought directly from Amazon® than through third party sellers in the Amazon Marketplace®.

AmazonBasics® Cable

This one is less than the price of the OEM model at $14.

AmazonBasics USB A to Lightning Compatible Cable - Apple Certified - Black (3 Feet/0.9 Meter)
Amazon Price: $13.99 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 8, 2014)
This cable has higher satisfaction ratings than Apple's own Lightning cable, but if you use a case for your device it might not fit

Reviews are slightly better than for the original Apple Lightning cable at about four fifths (80%) 4* and 5*. There is a slightly larger body on the Lightning connector than on the OEM cable and this does cause connection problems with your phone or device if the device is in a case because many cases only have a hole large enough for the OEM connector.

This cable is available in white or black.

Truwire®  Cable

This $11 cable has a lifetime warranty, longer than your phone’s warranty.

Three fifths (60%) of reviewers have awarded 4* or 5*. This device is fully compatible with all iPad and iPhone cases because the Lightning connector is identical in size to the original Apple one.

Your Choice

You do have options other than Apple equipment but cheap generic equipment is always going to give you problems. By reading the reviews you can find non-Apple alternatives that are better than the original in terms of longevity, warranty or quality.

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