Where are the MFI-certified 3rd party Lightning to USB-C cables?

Chargers (Image credit: iMore)

Apple started switching to USB-C on the Mac back in 2015 with the then new 12-inch MacBook. The MacBook Pro switched in 2016. The MacBook Air, just a few weeks ago, alongside the iPad Pro. Yet, if you want a Lightning cable to connect to any of those machines, your official, high-quality, and fully-functional choices are restricted to just one: Apple's. There are no MFI certified 3rd party Lightning to USB-C cables on the market capable of delivering faster, USB-C PD level charging. Why?

John Gruber, writing for Daring Fireball:

MFI certification requires vendors to source their Lightning connectors from Apple.1 The old connectors don't support PD, and the new connectors that do aren't yet available to third parties. Basically, this is why the only option for officially certified USB-C to Lightning cables remains Apple's own 1m and 2m cables.Yes, there are some no-name brand USB-C to Lightning cables available on Amazon right now. Amazon even labels one of them "Amazon's Choice". But they aren't MFI-certified and I don't think any of them support more than 10W. Personally, I would never trust these uncertified cables. The reviews on Amazon are full of complaints that they fail after a few weeks, and honestly I wouldn't trust them in terms of safety. I get wanting to charge Lightning devices from USB-C chargers and MacBooks, but if you don't want to buy Apple's own cables (which admittedly are expensive) you might as well just use an old USB-A to Lightning cable and a USB-C to USB-A adapter, because you're still limited to the non-PD charging limits. The no-name brand USB-C to Lightning cables available today do not support PD, are not certified, and are limited to 12 watts. There's a reason they only come from no-name brands.

MFI is the program Apple runs to certify Lightning accessories. PD is Power Delivery, or the ability of a USB-C cable to deliver higher than minimal, USB-A-level charging (12 W).

The cables you can find on Amazon and other places haven't gone through Apple's MFI program and can't deliver higher capacity charging. You may or may not care about any of that, but you should also have the option to care if you choose to.

For PD, 3rd parties are waiting on the new Lightning connectors that support them. From Mac Otakara, back in September:

In order to manufacture the USB-C to Lightning cable, a new "C94 Lightning connector" is necessary, it explains that it becomes a maximum 15W power supply specification in the case of non-USB-PD and 18W charging is supported in the case of USB-PD compatible. […]As it is in the stage of USB-C to Lightning Developer Preview, third party USB-C to Lightning cable is expected to be released in mid-2019.

Why the delay, when Apple has been shipping USB-C to Lightning cables for years? Back to Gruber:

But one little birdie I spoke with recently said that last year, for months, there simply were no Lightning connectors available to third parties, because Apple was consuming the entire supply because they were including three with each iPhone 8 and iPhone X — one for the cable, one for the headphones, and one for the headphone adapter.

That might be a reason but it's not an excuse. USB-C probably isn't something that's keeping hundreds of millions of Apple customers up at night, but it's something the company has been increasingly pushing over the last few years. And, as I've said repeatedly, when you make changes, you become responsible for helping your customer base through those changes as quickly and completely as possible.

Mid-2019 at the earliest, for a change begun in 2015, is neither of those things.

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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.