Lightning Cables: Licensed vs. Unlicensed

I’ve always shied away from purchasing expensive cables. HDMI, Ethernet, Micro-USB—there are inexpensive alternatives of all of these cables that work just as well as the branded, pricier versions. Needless to say, when Apple’s Lightning cables hit the scene, I started looking for inexpensive alternatives. Convinced that it wouldn’t make a difference, I picked up cables from local retailers, Amazon, and a shady-looking store in Chinatown on a trip to New York. Having seen all of these cables in action I learned that when it comes to lightning cables it pays to fork over a little more cash.


Not All Lightning Cables are Created Equal


My first experience with a non-Apple Lightning cable was with a couple of $5 cables purchased in Chinatown in New York. I brought my new purchases back to my hotel and happily plugged my phone into one of them. At first, it looked like everything was working properly. Unsurprisingly things took a turn for the worst a few minutes later when my new cable shorted out and caught on fire. Luckily, I managed to put the blaze out right away and my phone wasn’t damaged.


Now you’d think that I would’ve given up after this little experiment but I kept up my search for inexpensive alternatives. My next stop was Amazon, where I purchased another Lightning cable that was a bit pricier than the Chinatown ones. Naturally, I held my breath when I plugged my phone into this cable, waiting for something to go terribly wrong—but it didn’t. The cable worked like a charm, so I took it to the office where I typically keep a charging cable to give me a bit more juice if I run low during the day. The cable worked well for a couple of months and it stopped charging my phone.


Finally, I sprung for the most expensive, non-Apple branded option: an Apple MFi cable. While these cables are less expensive than the Apple Lightning cables but you certainly won’t find them priced at $5. However, the higher price tag is worth it because these cables performed as well as original Apple cables.


MFi Cables


MFi or Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod accessories are Apple certified. Not only have these products received a seal of approval from Apple but also their manufacturers have paid to receive Apple components and technical support. MFi products meet Apple’s strict performance standards ensuring quality and performance. Why is this important? Well, as it turns out there’s quite a bit of circuitry in Lightning cables and the proper hardware comes at a price.


My Advice


Since Apple devices tend to be pricey, it makes sense to invest in quality accessories to keep them working properly. As such, I recommend sticking with either Apple branded or MFi accessories. When it comes to MFi accessories, I like the Logiix products because they’re reliable and durable.

By Mike Agerbo

April 19, 2016