Review: A Cheap, Crap Lightning Connector Cable

Lightning Connector
The launch of the iPhone 5, the new iPod line-up and the fourth generation iPad was accompanied by the new Lightning connector and the release of a number of Lightning adapter cables from Apple. These cables, required for charging and transferring data to and from a device, are available on the Apple Store starting at a price of $19.00. We were curious, so decided to order a couple of cheap third party Lightning connector cables for around $3 each to compare against the full priced Apple versions.

Many iOS users prefer to have multiple cables in multiple locations (at home, in the car, at work). As such, there is a popular market for cheap third party Lightning connector cables. We ordered two Lightning to USB connector cables from a high profile retailer that sourced them from two separate manufacturers based in Asia. Both arrived in around two weeks and looked almost indistinguishable from the official Apple version. That is where the similarity ended.

The cables that we ordered left a lot to be desired. One cable worked well for charging an iOS device but simply did not allow any data transfer, or indeed for the device to be recognized in iTunes. The second Lightning cable allowed sporadic charging but only in one orientation, which defeats one of the major advantages of the new Lightning connector. This cable also did not allow any data exchange with a Mac.

These types of third-party Lightning connector cables are easily purchased from multiple retailers, and it’s worth noting that many of them will likely work perfectly. However, the two that we tested were of poor quality. So, if you are planning on buying an extra Lightning connector cable or two, then our advice is to go straight to Apple. In this instance, you’ll get what you pay for, and do you really want to use a $3 cable with a $700 iPhone?


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  • Gary Dauphin

    Apple’s cables, from what I understand, have a proprietary chip in them that manages the data transfer, so that part of the let-down makes sense. Since I sync my data via Wifi, having a $3 charging-only cable wouldn’t be bad, if the Chinese could build one that worked consistently.

  • Mackme

    Agreed, I bought a cable from a Hong Kong manufacturer that only charges in one direction which is a pain in the a$$

  • Patrick

    The source, make and model numbers would help.