Why won't my iPhone or iPad case work with this cable?

Why won't my iPhone or iPad case work with this cable? is one of the questions we're being asked a lot lately. A naked iPhone can pretty much fit any sync, charge, or media cable you connect it with at home, at work, or on the go. When you start introducing some types of cases, however, and add in different kinds of cables -- all bets are off.

The USB to Dock cable Apple includes with every iPhone and iPad box is typically razor thin. It just has an incredibly small profile and will generally fit almost any case you throw at it. [Cheap plug: the Apple USB cable with AC adapter is 50% off right now at the iMore Store]

Other cables, especially when you get into things like car or video connectors can be broader, thicker and fatter. Maybe it's a lack of forethought, maybe it's a matter of shielding, maybe it's both.

If your iPhone or iPad has a skin shield, it's basically the same as being naked and not a problem. With cases, your mileage will certainly vary.

Many of the very light, thin cases, especially where they have very large cutouts around the dock, aren't usually a problem either. It's when you start getting into the thicker, more protective cases that are cut tighter around the dock that there starts to be a problem. Namely, the thicker cables don't fit.

In an ideal world all cables would be as thin as possible and all cases would have the ports cut as wide as protection allows. In the real world, here are your options:

  • If you want to use one of the cases that offers better protection try to get as thin a cable as possible.
  • If you want to use thicker car, media, or other cables, get case that's cut as wide around the dock as possible.

The same rules can apply to some cases when matched with some headsets as well. It's a mix-and-match game that accessory makers have forced onto iPhone and iPad users.

In an ideal world, case makers would pay attention and provide ample room around the ports and cable and other accessory makers would pay attention and keep their profiles as slim as possible.

If you've come up with any particularly good matches, let us know in the comments!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.