First Click: Apple Lightning cables are more like lemons

July 30th, 2015

  • 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"
  • "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?

Five stories to start your day

  1. Amazon signs Top Gear's Clarkson, Hammond, and May for new show

    Former Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May have signed up for a new show on Amazon Prime, according to a tweet from Clarkson. The news ends months of speculation about the trio's future on TV after the BBC refused to renew Clarkson's contract following a "fracas" during filming earlier this year. The deal is a major coup for Amazon's streaming service, which lags behind rival Netflix.

  2. Angry Birds 2 is out now for Android and iOS

    Okay, so I know since Angry Birds came out in 2009, we've had Angry Birds Space, Angry Birds Rio, Angry Birds Friends, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Star Wars, Angry Birds Go!, Angry Birds Transformers, Angry Birds Fight!, Angry Birds Stella, and somehow even more. But none of those titles mattered. Because they didn't have a number.

  3. Mark Zuckerberg says virtual reality is the obvious next step for Facebook

    "The reason we’re excited in this space is the continued progression of people getting richer and richer ways to share what’s on their mind. Ten years ago it was text. Now it’s mostly visual and photos, then primarily video and we’re seeing huge growth there, but that is not the end of the line. Immersive 3D content is the obvious next thing after video."

  4. Samsung will 'adjust' Galaxy S6 pricing after disappointing earnings

    But the story here is how Samsung continues to struggle against Apple at the high end of the market, even after releasing its most critically acclaimed phones in years — it's clear that the S6 twins haven't been major hits. Is there anything Samsung can do to bring the luster back to premium Android phones amid intense competition from the likes of OnePlus, Motorola, and Xiaomi?

  5. Watch this tiny car burn rubber as it sets new EV acceleration record

    This fully electric vehicle might look dinky (hell, even its burnouts are cute), but it's just become one of the fastest accelerating cars on the planets, beating the likes of the Bugatti Veyron and Porsche 918 to cinch a new world record for EVs. Built by a team of students from the University of Stuttgart, the car managed to hit 62 mph (100 kmph) in an astonishing 1.779 seconds.

Apple of the day

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