First Click: Apple Lightning cables are more like lemons

July 30th, 2015

83
  • I’ve owned two Lightning cables from Apple
  • Both cables died after two years, almost exactly
  • I’ve taken very good care of them and there’s no sign of external damage
  • My wife owned one Lightning cable from Apple
  • Her cable died after two years, almost exactly
  • She’s taken very good care of it and there’s no sign of external damage
  • I’m annoyed

I tried replacing the cables at my local Apple Store, but since we bought our phones through a carrier (and don’t have AppleCare) Apple refused to replace them. The carrier was — as expected — completely unhelpful, as we were just days outside of the mandatory two-year warranty required in Europe.

If just one of three cables had failed, I’d chalk it up to chance. Two, bad luck. But all three, and two on the same day after being purchased at the same time two years earlier? Let’s get to Googlin’.

Apple support forums are littered with complaints about failed Lightning cables. The cable scores just 1.5 out 5 stars based on 2026 reviews on Apple’s own US store. Here’s a sample of review headlines from the last week:

  • "Worst Apple product ever made"
  • "Improve Lightning Cable quality please"
  • "Poorly made JUNK"
  • "Nasty."
  • "No good!"

So yeah, I’m not alone The Atlantic9to5Mac, and many others in the tech press have written about it. Hell, there's even a Tumblr dedicated to showing frayed connectors (an issue I don't have).

The always excellent Wirecutter recommends an Apple MFi Certified Lightning cable from Anker that’s currently on sale for $7.99. That’s $11 and one cent less than Apple’s $19 cable of the same length, and Anker scores 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon based on 7,450 customer reviews. Here’s a sample of review headlines from the last week:

  • "Great cable excellent quality"
  • "GREAT CHARGER!"
  • "If you had trouble with cables, try this one instead"
  • "Five Stars"
  • "So much better than the Apple One"
It remains to be seen, however, how they’ll perform after two years (Anker's warranty ends after 18 months).

Lightning was launched as a replacement for the 30-pin connector with a claim of "improved durability." Yet I have a handful of 30-pin cables that all work fine, my oldest dating back to the iPhone 3G purchased in 2008. While I ponder replacements, I’ve purchased a few $0.99 adapters that convert my old 30-pin cables to Lightning, giving me the benefits of MFi performance without the cost.

Thing is, should I have to buy new cables if Apple’s selling lemons?

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Apple of the day

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