Apple is not just one of the most innovative technology companies in the world but perhaps the most business savvy. The company likes to manufacture accessories that are proprietary only to their products. Customers of Apple will not be able to connect generic products to the iPhone, iPod and iPad. It’s certainly not an affront to consumers but a shrewd way to generate recurring income on the gadget.
One such proprietary accessory is the Lighting cable which was introduced in 2012. The Lightning cable has a different wire pairing that required the gadget to understand what signal to send on which wire. Third party manufacturers would have to buy these Lightning cables from Apple, break them apart to get a detailed understanding on what makes them work.
In 2015, Apple replaced the Lightning cable with the USB Type- C which is also the preferred one for non-Apple gadgets. More on the connector specifications can be found at the bottom of this page.
But as the saying goes, “When Apple catches a cold, everyone sneezes.” A market for the Lightning cable had already been created and third party manufacturers still make them.
If your gadget is one of them, here for your benefit is a review of the 10 best selling lighting cables in 2017.
Table of Contents
- 1. HWG USB to Lightning Cable
- 2. TNSO 2Pack Extra Long Nylon Braided 8 Pin: Best Lightning Cable
- 3. Deppa Certified Best Lightning to USB Cable
- 4. X-Cable iPhone Charger Cable
- 5. Anker PowerLine+
- 6. Stalion Lightning Cable
- 7. Smallelectric Alloy Gold Plated
- 8. Anker Apple MFi Certified Lightning to USB Cable
- 9. Anker 3 Feet iPhone Charger
- 10. AmazonBasics Apple Certified Lightning to USB Cable
- Should you get an MFi or Apple certified Lightning cable?
- Taking The Difficulty Out Of Choosing The Best Lightning Cable for iPhone
- Long And Short Cables
- Use With USB-C Ports
- An Overview Of Lightning Cable Technology
- What Is Behind Lightning Cable Technology?
- What Devices Use Lightning Connectors?
- What Are The Advantages?
1. HWG USB to Lightning Cable
The HWG USB Lightning Cable may not be Apple certified but it works just like one. It uses a zinc-alloy design and the wire is flat to keep from tangling. It is not particularly affordable compared to the other brands but you will actually get two cables for its price. One wire is black and the other is white but both can be connected to the latest versions of Apple’s products.
2. TNSO 2Pack Extra Long Nylon Braided 8 Pin: Best Lightning Cable
One of the more expensive Lightning cables in this list. The TNSO uses an 8 pin lighting connector and a gold plated USB connector. The wires are wrapped in nylon which keeps it from getting tangled unlike other brands. Users of TNSO who are initially put off by its high price may be consoled by the fact you will actually receive two 6 feet cables.
3. Deppa Certified Best Lightning to USB Cable
If you want value for money then Deppa is the Lightning cable for you. It is not expensive because it does not have special construction but it performs enough to get the job done. Deppa is sold as a pack of six with each one measuring 3 feet and compatible with all Apple products. You can transfer data and charge at the same time. On top of all that, Deppa offers a 12 month warranty.
4. X-Cable iPhone Charger Cable
Another great value for money product, X- Cable is sold as a pack of 3 charging cables that can actually be used for data transfer. The cables come in sizes of 3, 6 and 10 feet. All are made exactly the same. X- Cable also includes a limited warranty. On the downside, the device uses a simple cord that can easily get tangled.
5. Anker PowerLine+
Anker is known for producing a wide selection of cables. The PowerLine+ is one of their standout products and costs as much as a regular kit of lightning to USB cables. The PowerLine + is made of gold plated connectors and measures 6 feet. These are covered by nylon which keeps them from getting tangled. Anker maintains the PowerLine+ will last 6 times longer than other brands in the market.
6. Stalion Lightning Cable
This is an Apple certified product, designed to be compatible with any of the company’s products that use a Lightning cable. The Stalion works as a charging connector but can also be used to transfer data. Stalion is sold as a single one that measures 6.5 feet. The wire is coated with rubber for greater flexibility and its gold connectors are very durable. Stalion includes a manufacturer’s warranty.
7. Smallelectric Alloy Gold Plated
Smallelectric is a great value for money product. It is sold as a pack of three 6 foot cables that have gold plated connectors. The cables have a flat design and presents a slim profile which keeps them from getting tangled. What’s more is that the Smallelectric is protected against corrosion and are 100% compatible with Apple products that use a Lightning connection.
8. Anker Apple MFi Certified Lightning to USB Cable
If you want a Lightning cable with the look and feel of an Apple original accessory, go for the Anker Apple. The name says it all. This is a simple device that is available in 2 different colors and retails at an affordable price. The wire is coated with rubber for greater flexibility while the connectors are plated with gold.
9. Anker 3 Feet iPhone Charger
The closest product to an Apple official one. The Anker Lightning is a thin and slim cable but has a feel and look of a premium product. It also has durable connectors and can charge and transfer data. A downside is that the Anker Lightning is not a flat cable which makes it susceptible to getting tangled.
10. AmazonBasics Apple Certified Lightning to USB Cable
AmazonBasic remains the most popular choice for users of products that need Lightning cables. This is an MFi certified product that is 100% compatible with all Apple products that have a Lighting connector. The AmazonBasic can charge as well as transfer or sync data from a computer. It is surprisingly affordable and has a decent build quality.
Should you get an MFi or Apple certified Lightning cable?
An Apple certified one will give you peace of mind but non-Apple certified products may perform just as well.
You should look for a Lighting cable that has the following qualities:
- Compatible with Apple products
- Flat design to keep from tangling
- Rubber coating for flexibility
- Durable build
As for pricing, check what you are getting for the money you pay. If they offer an extra set or longer cables, that will add more value for your money.
Taking The Difficulty Out Of Choosing The Best Lightning Cable for iPhone
Shopping for a Lightning cable should not be the overwhelming task that it often becomes. You want a good, reliable one at an affordable price, but as soon as you start shopping, you’ll discover that there are literally thousands of cables to choose from.
Each manufacturer claims to produce the best product, and their claims seem to make sense. So how do their claims stack up to in-depth scrutiny? We put nearly 40 of the highest rated, most popular cables to the test. This included reviewing the analysis of an electronic engineer who took them apart to study their construction. Here’s what we found.
The most important thing that we discovered is that the most important aspect of the wire is its durability. All the in-depth scrutiny that we put the cables through failed to help us to identify cables that could measurably outperform the other cables.
In fact, none of our top selections proved to be any better, or any worse for that matter, than the others in terms of charging or data functionality. What mattered was how well the cables held up over a long period of time of regular use. Did they still function properly after 6 months or a year of steady use? Were the plugs beginning to pull away from the cable?
Taking into account real-world results, we refocused testing primarily on two things: charging speed and durability. People want cables that won’t fray, split, or fall apart over time, and they want their cables to recharge their devices in the least amount of time necessary. We also wanted to ensure compatibility of the tested cables with all iOS devices, so we decided to only test MFI-licensed cables.
Having determined that, you will find that plenty of products fulfill that criteria, and there is very little price and functionality difference between high-quality options. It may be possible to identify minute differences between the cables, but only after many hours of testing and research. It would be impossible to test them all for such minute differences, and even if you chose to do so, the best cables would test very similarly to the others.
Additionally, cables are a commodity product, and therefore they are subject to constant replacement and discontinuation. As happens frequently with companies like Amazon and Monoprice. Manufacturers also change the components or construction of their wires at various times, usually without notice.
What we decided to do is to select cables that met certain criteria, which were sold by reputable companies that you may already have had good experiences with. Particularly those that have been used long enough to have developed some sense of confidence for their durability. Instead of telling you which cables are the best, we’ve chosen to tell you which ones that we’d purchase ourselves.
Long And Short Cables
Short cables are typically less versatile than longer ones, but they do come in handy. They are especially good to use anywhere that you don’t want a mess of cable length gathering around your feet, as at your work desk. Additionally, their lighter weight is an added benefit when used for travel purposes. The Powerline is available in a 12 inch size that works well for these situations, and it’s virtually identical to the 36 inch version in performance and design.
Long ones provide their own benefits, such as giving you the ability to use your iPad or iPhone a good distance away from the nearest outlet, while it charges. Anker’s Powerline is available in both a 6 foot and a 10 foot version, and they cost less than half as much as Apple’s 6.5 foot lightning to USB one does. In our testing, they matched the data-transfer and charging speeds of the smaller, 3 foot models. This really is one of the best lightning cables for iPhone 6.
Use With USB-C Ports
All of Apple Computer’s new MacBook models, and even a sizable number of Chromebooks and Windows-based computers, are now equipped with USB-C ports. In some cases, these ports replace the traditional USB-A ports, in others they co-exist with them. If you have one of these computers, you’ll have 2 options for connecting your device to your computer.
The first way is the only direct way, using Apple’s USB-C to Lightning cable. This is because Apple isn’t currently licensing the Lightning connector to be used for 3rd party accessory manufacturers. This means that there are no “Made for iPhone” USB-C to Lightning cables to be found. Only Apple manufacturers them.
The second way is to use an adapter that will allow you to use USB-A connections. Your options to do this include USB-C to USB-A cable adapters, and various hubs that provide multiple ports. In our experience, you’ll achieve slower charging speeds with this option than you would through the use of Apple’s cables, but they will work, and they’ll transfer data too.
Hopefully this information is helpful to you for narrowing the selections of Lightning cables down to a more convenient number. Just remember, choose the ones that appear to be the best made, because it’s unlikely that you’ll notice no difference in performance from one to another.
An Overview Of Lightning Cable Technology
Apple, the producer of the famed ‘i’ products is renowned for producing novel devices. The company is a leader in matters design in all of the niches it ventures into, regardless of whether the industry is established or new. Thus, as many consumer products specialist will attest to, Apple has developed a knack for designing and manufacturing products that are top-of-the-class.
Part of the way the company differentiates its products from competitors is by designing a unique and closed system to integrate into their devices. The company is famous for its closed eco-system as much as it is famous for its eye-catching designs and innovative culture. The closed system ensures that Apple products are unique to the company and no other electronics manufacturer is entirely capable of matching Apple’s designs.
One very apparent illustration of the closed eco-system employed by Apple is the Lightning cable technology. While virtually every other electronics manufacturer is deploying micro-USB for charging and data transfer purposes, Apple uses its own proprietary Lightning cables, which can only be used with Apple products.
However, the advent of the Lightning connection is not a first when it comes to Apple opting to use a unique design of connector and charging cable. It is noteworthy that Apple’s introduction of this new one only served to replace another unique design of cable: the 30-pin dock connector.
Herein, we are going to explore the best Lightning cable technology and other issues surrounding it. While the company pulls all stops to retain as much secrecy around its products and technology, including Lightning cable, engineers across the world are always on hand to decipher the technology. As such, the information here is mainly sourced from third party players, who have conducted extensive studies on the technology and how it works.
What Is Behind Lightning Cable Technology?
Considering that the Lighting connection is a technological marvel, its design and engineering must be equally impressive. Unlike its predecessor, the 30-pin dock connector, the Lightning connector has 8 pins, which means that it is significantly smaller in size. However, the stellar design of the connection can only be truly appreciated when you explore the details of it.
For instance, even though the Lighting connector has 8 pins, the cable has 16-pins, two connecting to each pin. According to Double Helix Cable’s Peter Bradsock, pin 1 on the top is the USB power. Additionally, this pin is symmetrical; meaning that pin 8 serves the same function. However, it has been determined that others can switch to the power function as needed.
When it comes to data, things get a little bit complicated. The pins become asymmetrical, which means that when you flip the cable, it connects to a different contact in the device. To assign functions to each pin, the Lightning cable has a special controller. In effect, the controller chip is used to implement the adaptive function on the cable, which allows users to plug in the device face up or face down. Furthermore, the chip powers other functionalities of the Lighting cable including:
– Determining whether the connecting device needs power or is providing power,
– Switching on the pins after they are fully inserted into the plug, and
– Converting the signals to and from digital format.
As you can appreciate, the Lightning cable is not just any other kind of cable; it is a smart cable designed to epitomize Apple ethos of designing and producing top-of-the-line products. Although it may not be as fast as USB 3.0, it still meets Apple’s needs.
What Devices Use Lightning Connectors?
Since the introduction of the Lightning connector on September 12, 2012, most Apple products have featured this ‘new’ connector. In this regard, every iPhone 5 and newer devices, iPad 4th generation and newer, iPad mini and newer, Apple TV, and iPod touch 5th generation and newer feature the Lightning connector.
Additionally, there are numerous other accessories that use the Lightning connector technology manufactured by Apple as well as manufactured third party companies (a lot of these are listed above). Some of the accessories that have this type of connector include:
- AirPods charging case
- Magic Trackpad 2
- Magic Mouse 2
- Apple Pencil
- Magic Keyboard
- Some EarPods
- Aukey PB-N30 power bank
- BeatsX Earphones
- 4th generation Siri Remote for Apple TV, and much more
Although the future cannot be predicted, you can be certain that Apple’s products will have the Lightning connector technology or an improvement of it.
What Are The Advantages?
The subject matter of advantages of this type of the best lightning cables can be touchy. There are many people that consider the new cable to be a good thing while there are numerous other people that think the opposite.
However, while being strictly objective, there are advantages to the Lighting connection, both on the consumer side as well as for Apple. For starters, since the connector is significantly small and especially thin, it allows Apple to design thinner products. This has been the evolutionary case since 2012. With each passing year, Apple has been able to produce thinner products, be it iPhone, iPods, or iPads, all to the benefits of their consumers.
The Lighting cable is designed for digital functioning. This means the cable provides smarter functionality (for instance the adaptive functionality) and has the potential to grow. For the company, there is room to significantly improve user experience and for consumers, there is a potential to receive better user experience.
Additionally, using the Lightning cable technology, with the chip incorporated into the connector, the company sought to better control third party manufacturers seeking to develop accessories for their devices. This can be considered as a benefit as you might assume Apple intentions were to protect their customers.
However, you might also assume that Apple wanted to make more money from their devices by licensing third party accessory manufacturers, which is an advantage is for Apple investors.
When all is said, you also have to appreciate the novelty of the design. There is no other product like it.