iPhone 5 Lightning Adapters to Remain Reassuringly Expensive Courtesy of Authentication Chip
It has been known for some time that the new Lightning connector on the iPhone 5 has an authentication chip in it which enables Apple to keep control of who can connect peripherals to their devices. However, this has now been confirmed by Peter from Double Helix Cables who took apart an official Apple Lightning connector, revealing the chip embedded in it. It was connected directly to the V+ USB signal line and the power pin, meaning that it processes the data passing through the connector, making a cable without this special chip useless.
The official USB to Lightning cable adapter costs $19 from Apple. It costs them around $3.50 to make, which is a 775% increase on the old 30 pin connector, that didn't have an authentication chip in it. Still, Apple makes a hefty profit on it nonetheless. Some third party retailers such as alibaba.com are selling Lightning cables for much less than Apple are, but it appears that these don't have the required chip in them, making them useless and should therefore should be avoided, "There is basically no way those are functional cables. You can't just build a Lightning cable by making something with the same shape and connectivity, and my teardown proves that. The chip has to be there, and it is directly in the signal path of the V+ wire."
So, for peace of mind that the cable will work and won't potentially damage the iPhone 5, users should just get the official reassuringly expensive Apple cable and be done with it.
Posted by | Tue, Sep 25, 2012 - 07:29 PM