Apple’s Charging Cables Will Finally Be as Good as iPhones
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Apple’s Charging Cables Will Finally Be as Good as iPhones

May 26, 2023

They couldn't have gotten much worse

Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

Apple's next iPhone may include one of those lovely woven charging cables that come with the MacBooks. And thank goodness, because Apple's current cables are shameful pieces of junk.

Given Apple's reputation for quality hardware, from the absurdly well-built iPhone right through to the design and engineering that goes into the packaging for its iPad cases, it seems crazy that its cables are so bad. And I don't think it's because we use them more than other cables. The iPhone 15 will, according to the rumors, come with a braided USB-C cable, maybe even matching the color of your iPhone. Will these cables be better? Here's hoping, because they couldn't be much worse.

"The perception of Apple's standard iPhone Lightning cables as low quality might be due to their apparent susceptibility to wear and tear compared to other aftermarket options. Many people find that the cables fray or split after extended use," software designer, electrical engineer, and technology writer Matt Kerr told Lifewire via email.

Right back to the hard-drive-based iPods, I have enjoyed having the Apple-supplied cables split, fray, or—most alarmingly—split, fray, and also turn brown around the wound. These cables are sheathed in a plastic that quickly hardens and cracks, making it split around the USB-C and lightning plugs.

The plastic has improved over time—Apple may once have switched to a more supple plastic—but in my experience, they are still prone to breaking around the plug joint. And I'm a very careful cable handler who rarely takes one out of the house.

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For a comparison, look at Apple's EarPod cables, which also used to ship in the box with the iPhone. These rarely had the same problems, despite being subject to way more abuse, shoved into bags, and stuffed bunched and tangled in pockets.

In many ways, the iPhone charging cable is a disposable item, included almost grudgingly with each unit. They're too short, they're thin and cheap feeling, and, in my experience, and based on seeing friends' abused cables, they don't last. But we all probably have an old box full of unused iPhone cables, collected over the years, that we can dip into when needed. As I said, they're almost disposable.

"I hope they make them more durable. I have had 100% failure with Apple charger cables," said iPhone cable-destroyer Mrr in a MacRumors thread participated in by Lifewire.

On the other hand, until you break them, they're safe, reliable, and seem to keep going even in the worst cases of cable abuse.

"I've never had one fail, even since the original iPhone," replied long-time iPhone owner and apparent cable coddler Rychiar in the same discussion thread.

Not all USB-C cables are created equal; some might not have the proper certifications to ensure they won't damage your device or have slower data transfer speeds.

The thing is, most replacement cables are junk, too. To get a decent cable, you have to pay. Fortunately, you won't have to pay Apple's cable prices, which are currently $19 for the standard 3-foot cable and $29 for the six-footer.

My hand's down favorite charging cables come from Anker. Specifically, the Anker 551 USB-A to Lightning Cable is a nylon braided cable that lasts forever and just works. I have been using the same Anker braided cables for years, at home and when traveling, and they are as good as new.

Even my partner, a notorious abuser of cables, to the extent of propping up their iPhone vertically, standing on the cable itself while FaceTiming has so far failed to destroy or even damage one of their Anker cables.

The trick with cables is that you cannot buy them cheap. Don't grab that blister pack off the hanger next to the supermarket checkout queue. Don't order the cheapest cable from Amazon. Spend a bit more, and not only will your cable be flat-out nicer, but it will also last way longer. These Ankers run from $17.99 to $19.99, depending on length (the longest is ten feet), and will easily outlast four $5 cables.

Andreas Haslinger / Unsplash

Plus, cheap no-name cables come with security risks. They could be carrying a tiny tracking computer hidden inside the USB plug.

"With USB-C iPhones, consumers should be vigilant about the quality and certification of cables they purchase. Not all USB-C cables are created equal; some might not have the proper certifications to ensure they won't damage your device or have slower data transfer speeds," says Kerr

And, of course, Anker is far from the only option. But if the rumors are true, you may soon be able to rely on the iPhone cable Apple includes in the box. If it uses the same cable that comes with the MagSafe MacBooks Pro, it will be a huge improvement, tougher, better feeling and looking, and with a nice, pleasingly floppy flexibility.

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