Apple’s Stranglehold on Lightning Cables Busted – Cheap Knock-Off Cable Works Just Fine

When Apple designed its new, smaller Lightning connector to replace the old 30-pin one, it also attempted to put a stranglehold on the accessories that could connect to it, such as speaker docks and charging/data cables It did this by embedding a small authentication chip in the cable or third party device and a corresponding one in their iPhones, iPads etc. The theory would be that unauthorised devices couldn’t be made and Apple would have the accessory market totally under its thumb, controlling it as it wished and charging sky high prices of course. This is a form of hardware DRM, pure and simple – and DRM is always broken. Always.


Well, the sky high prices are here, unsurprisingly. For example, the official Lightning charging/data cable costs $19 from Apple. However, as is known, the authentication chip has been reverse engineered and found its way into cheap Chinese knock-off cables.

Frank Donghi of Toxic Cables decided to try out one of these cheap cables for the princely sum of $3.50 and see how well it worked. Well, the build quality was awful and the cable radiated a lot of electrical noise when used with external music players due to the lack of any shielding, but it actually worked just fine otherwise, including as a charger. No doubt that cable would fall apart in a short time though and there’s no guarantee that other cables wouldn’t cause problems or potential damage, since the makers don’t have to adhere to any official Apple quality control standards. Hence it’s probably best to stick to the Apple original or buy one you know the reputation of.

Even after taking one cable apart to look at its integrated chips, Donghi found that the knock-off Lightning connector still works properly, though he characterized the build quality as “extremely poor.”

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