How to Save Money Without Sacrificing Quality when Buying Lightning Cables
Apple sells replacement Lightning to USB cables at its online and physical retail stores for $19 - $29, depending on the length you want. You don't have to get your replacement from Apple, though. To get a good quality Lightning cable for your iPhone and iPad, you don't need to spend a fortune, you just need to make sure it's MFi certified.
Here are the best low-cost MFi certified Lightning cables for iPhone and iPad.
- AmazonBasics Nylon Braided Lightning Cable
- Syncwire UNBREAKcable Lightning cable
- Anker PowerLine Lightning cable
- iXCC Element II Lightning Cable
What does MFi mean?
In order to meet the strict standards it has for making accessories that are compatible with its hardware and software, Apple provides certification to those companies that meet the standards as part of the MFi program, or "Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod," but it covers all Apple-built hardware. If a product is MFi certified, it basically means that it will continue to work with Apple products, even when the company pushes out software updates that change things.
It doesn't mean that non-certified products aren't just as good as certified products, but it does mean you're guaranteed to have an accessory or peripheral that meets Apple's standards. And that's what you should be looking for when buying a low-cost Lightning cable.
My suggestion: Don't buy into those multipacks of Lightning cables on sale at one-sale-a-day type websites. Those are rarely MFi certified and you'll inevitably hit that "This accessory is not supported..." notification. Blech.
MFi cables can be pricy, like Belkin's 3-meter Lightning cable for $20. But they can also be significantly less expensive if you know where to look.
Best low-cost MFi certified Lightning cables for iPhone and iPad
AmazonBasics Nylon Braided Lightning cable
Probably because of its ability to order massive amounts of units from manufacturers, Amazon is able to keep the cost of its MFi certified Lightning cables very low. You can get a standard AmazonBasics Lightning cable for around $6, but I prefer the nylon braided version because it's a little more sturdy and a lot easier to tell apart from everyone else's. Cables have been put through the ringer for durability. They are bend-tested 4,000 times.
The connector caps have a bit of extra flexibility to reduce fraying (which is fairly common with Apple's branded Lightning cables) and the nylon fiber coating helps keep the cable itself from splitting or breaking.
Interestingly, the 6-foot cable is just about the same price as the 3-foot cable. You can get twice the length without paying any extra. It comes in gold, silver, dark gray, and rose gold and ranges in price from $10 - $13, depending on the color.
Syncwire UNBREAKcable Lightning cable
Syncwire makes a solid and durable 3.3-foot MFi Lightning cable that it claims can withstand 30,000 90-degree bends. It's also been tested to support up to 275 pounds of weight. It's got an additional layer of mesh protection around the inner wires, which is also covered with a TPE jacket. The connectors are "laser welded" to keep them from breaking off.
If you discover, after roughing up your Syncwire, that you've actually managed to break it, you can exchange it for a brand new one thanks to the company's lifetime warranty.
The Syncwire UNBREAKcable series comes in black, gray, rose gold, and white for between $8 and $11.
Anker PowerLine II Lightning cable
Anker makes a super durable MFi Lightning cable that can seriously withstand a lot of abuse. It's bend-tested 12,000 times and can support more than 175 pounds of weight. It's made from bulletproof fiber weaving. You know, so you can protect yourself from getting shot with your ... Lightning cable? Hey, it could happen. The rounded TPE-coated connector caps add an extra bit of durability because the connections aren't separated from the cable. The best part, it's got a lifetime warranty, so you can exchange a damaged cable without any questions.
Wirecutter considers it the best Lightning cable you can buy.
The 6-foot Anker PowerLine II comes in black, white, blue, and red for $13.
iXCC Element II Lightning Cable
The Element II 3-foot MFi certified Lightning cable from iXCC caught my attention because it's got nearly 30,000 reviews on Amazon with a 75% five-star rating average. It's fairly standard in terms of the features of an MFi certified Lightning cable, but it's got a couple of things going for it. First, it's got a slim design at the connector, which means it's more likely than not to actually work with special cases. Other non-Apple Lightning cables tend not to fit as well with some of the more popular rugged cases.
Second, it comes with a two-year warranty. If something goes wrong — if it frays or breaks — iXCC will replace it.
I noticed within the Amazon reviews there were a few folk that complained of issues with their cables. It appears that there are fakes being sold on Amazon. Be careful to buy an Element II from iXCC and not a third-party seller. If you do get an official cable and it breaks, iXCC will replace it anyway.
The Element II is the lowest-price MFi certified cable on this list starting at $6.50. You can get them in 1ft, 3ft, 6ft, or 10ft lengths and they come in single, two, or three packs. Prices range from $6.50 for a single 3ft cable to $17 for a three-pack of 10ft cables.
Do you buy non-MFi certified Lightning cables? Do you think the only way is Apple brand?
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Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books. If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).