First fully-functional unauthorized Lightning cable reportedly slips out of China

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Third-party manufacturers in China are supposedly mass-producing Lightning cables with working authentication chips allegedly reverse engineered from Apple's official model, and are shopping their wares to overseas resellers, AppleInsider has learned.

Chinese Lightning Cable


One such cable was shipped to a possible reseller in the West who, under the name "Magnus Hanso," provided AppleInsider with exclusive photos of the purported Lightning to USB connector, saying the component came directly from a manufacturer in China.

While AppleInsider cannot verify the legitimacy of the part, Hanso agreed to connect their iPhone 5 to a MacBook Pro using the cable, illustrating that the component does in fact allow the computer to recognize the handset. An image of a successful photo transfer was also provided for further verification.

Chinese Lightning Cable
Photo of iPhone 5 recognition and file transfer.


There are clear differences when comparing the purported Chinese "knock-off" and the official Apple-designed part that comes with every new iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch and seventh-generation iPod nano. Most notable is the unauthorized unit's plug, which is larger and more squared-off than its first-party counterpart. Also, the sleeve lengths of both the Lightning and USB plugs are much shorter on the third-party version.

Chinese Lightning Cable
Comparison of official Apple Lightning connector (marked in red) and unauthorized third-party cable.


Hanso noted that the build quality of the cable is quite good, equating it to an engineering sample. In comparison to non-Apple 30-pin cables the source has seen in the past, the Lightning to USB connector is of much higher quality.

While the unit was not torn down to confirm if an authentication chip was present, the third-party cable did interface correctly with a MacBook Pro, which recognized an iPhone 5 and completed a transfer of multiple image files.

It is possible that the alleged cable is using "leaked" or illegally purchased connectors from Apple's main supplier Cheng Uei, however it is unlikely that such black-market buys could support the scale of production hinted to by Hanso's Chinese distributor. Adding further evidence that the security device has been cracked is a Monday report that claimed the authentication chips themselves are already in production, with multiple variants being sold throughout China.

Chinese Lightning Cable
Third-party cable facilitating iPhone 5 recharge.


Finally, Hanso claims the unofficial cables are being priced well below official Apple units, and could be making their way to U.S. shores before the busy holiday shopping season.

With Apple widely expected to introduce a 7.85-inch iPad mini, and possibly a tweaked full-sized iPad with Lightning connectivity, at a special event later today, the rumored third-party cables could be positioned for quick sales as the company's own supply is running low. Currently, the Online Apple Store is quoting one to two weeks for a Lightning to USB cable.

AppleInsider was first to report that Apple was presumedly using an authentication chip with its 30-pin dock replacement. A subsequent investigation by analysis firm Chipworks revealed that the security device is a Texas Instruments chip that offers security measures on par with older print cartridges.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,570member
    Bring on the $2 knockoffs! I had about a dozen 30-pin cables laying around the house (bedside, at my desk, kitchen island, living room, briefcase, messenger bag, both cars, etc.) that I bought cheap on eBay. None ever broke and they were very reliable (even the 6' cable I bought to use at my nightstand).

    Can't wait to stock back up, because I refuse to pay $20 a cable for my iPhone 5 and my wife's iPhone 5.
  • Reply 2 of 24
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,415member
    To each his own, I guess...
    but I just can't get all upset about the slightly higher Apple price ($2 knock-offs? In your dreams!).

    I don't know whether they still do this, but Apple used to include anything you bought as accessories when you bought AppleCare with a major product under that 'umbrella'.

    If it still works this way, and even if it doesn't, complaining about a couple bucks more for build quality, reliability, certain compatibility, and warranty (?), is a non-starter for me.
    It's a small price to pay to keep Cupertino hummin' along.

    I'm not one who thinks Apple products generally are over-priced, but they aren't bargain basement either, so paying a tad more for "the right stuff" just doesn't bug me.
  • Reply 3 of 24
    v1mv1m Posts: 3member
    It's all made by the same slaves! I'll take the el cheapo. Sooooo sorry, APPL shareholders.
  • Reply 4 of 24
    mazda 3s wrote: »
    Bring on the $2 knockoffs! I had about a dozen 30-pin cables laying around the house (bedside, at my desk, kitchen island, living room, briefcase, messenger bag, both cars, etc.) that I bought cheap on eBay. None ever broke and they were very reliable (even the 6' cable I bought to use at my nightstand).
    Can't wait to stock back up, because I refuse to pay $20 a cable for my iPhone 5 and my wife's iPhone 5.

    Of my dozen cheap 30 pin cables, every single one was broken. Simply from constant use.

    If you can afford a iPhone, don't think we should really bitch about a $20 cable. It won't break the bank.
  • Reply 5 of 24
    There is no authentication chip. It's just a CRC chip.
  • Reply 6 of 24
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,525member
    v1m wrote: »
    It's all made by the same slaves! I'll take the el cheapo. Sooooo sorry, APPL shareholders.

    Appell Petroleum shareholders don't give a crap, Einstein.
  • Reply 7 of 24


    Use at your own risk!!  Be assured Apple will not replace or repair any IPHONE5 that has been damaged do to using an unauthorized cable.  Not worth saving $20 and risking a $700 iphone.

  • Reply 8 of 24
    Have a look at the UK website and count yourself lucky !

    http://store.apple.com/uk/browse/home/shop_iphone/iphone_accessories/cables_docks

    Using today's currency exchange rates, the UK pays a lot more.

    lightning to 30 pin adapter : $ 40.
    lightning to 30 pin adapter cable : $ 64.
    lightning to USB cable : $ 24.

    I will certainly not feel guilty about using imitation. I find Apple severely shortcoming in not having the leads and adapters available at the same time as the the iPHONE 5 was sold, and think (like many do) that charging what they do is putting up a middle finger to their loyal customer base.

    Tim Cook : TAKE NOTE !
  • Reply 9 of 24
    So I can save 5-10-15-20 bucks on a cable that might potentially frie my new phone or iPad? The potential for disaster will far out weigh any cost savings. Just driving to the Apple store for a replacement would negate the cost savings, let alone waiting.

    I'm all for cheap alternatives, but I'll wait a few months for a company guaranteeing their products
  • Reply 10 of 24
    normmnormm Posts: 566member
    What people have found is that the Lightning cable contains a chip that uses a one-pin serial connection for a fixed indentification number. This kind of chip has been used to identify battery packs, for example. Since the Lightning connector is supposed to be future proof, you'd expect the interface to include identifying information to tell it what electrical and logical protocol to use. It seems like a leap to call this an authentication chip.
  • Reply 11 of 24
    Each knockoff cable comes with a 90-minute warranty.
  • Reply 12 of 24
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Each knockoff cable comes with a 90-minute warranty.

    LOL

    And if you pay $99 bucks a year, they'll double it to 3 hours.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,612member
    Each knockoff cable comes with a 90-minute warranty.

    Even 90 minutes sounds generous for a Chinese p.o.s.
  • Reply 14 of 24
    lukeilukei Posts: 332member


    The issue in many countries is not the price but the availability. Sync/Power cables are still not available in Hong Kong for example. What most people need is just a charging cable anyway, you only need the sync bit if you aren't using Wi-Fi and only when connected to your main iTunes Mac/PC.


     


    I have a 'copy' cable from China. It works fine to charge my phone in the office, it does do data sync but I don't use it for that.

  • Reply 15 of 24
    zozmanzozman Posts: 391member
    mazda 3s wrote: »
    Bring on the $2 knockoffs! I had about a dozen 30-pin cables laying around the house (bedside, at my desk, kitchen island, living room, briefcase, messenger bag, both cars, etc.) that I bought cheap on eBay. None ever broke and they were very reliable (even the 6' cable I bought to use at my nightstand).
    Can't wait to stock back up, because I refuse to pay $20 a cable for my iPhone 5 and my wife's iPhone 5.

    Damn straight, I have the same plan, Need a new bedside speaker, when will the damn 3d party things come out.

    Hope there Is a mini iPad, another spare cable :p
  • Reply 16 of 24
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,570member
    Of my dozen cheap 30 pin cables, every single one was broken. Simply from constant use.
    If you can afford a iPhone, don't think we should really bitch about a $20 cable. It won't break the bank.

    Every single one broke? Seriously? We're not talking rocket science, we're talking a pretty mature design (a 9-year old cable design) for the 30-pin cable. I've even got some knockoffs with the locking "push-in" side buttons that still work.

    Regardless, I think it's wasteful and foolish for me to spend as much on 10 or 12 cables as I do on just one device. It's a flippin' cable; this is Monster Cable territory.

    I doubt you guys pay $20 for a 6' HDMI cable today or paid $20 for a 6' USB A-B printer cable back in the day before wireless connectivity. Monoprice is my usual source for my cabling needs and they are STELLAR. They currently sell 30-pin cables for $3.25.

    If they would sell Lightning cables on the cheap, I'd have no fear buying from them.
  • Reply 17 of 24


    Um, I'm just going to buy the Apple-branded adapter. They DO make the best adapters.

  • Reply 18 of 24
    mazda 3s wrote: »
    Every single one broke? Seriously? We're not talking rocket science, we're talking a pretty mature design (a 9-year old cable design) for the 30-pin cable. I've even got some knockoffs with the locking "push-in" side buttons that still work.
    Regardless, I think it's wasteful and foolish for me to spend as much on 10 or 12 cables as I do on just one device. It's a flippin' cable; this is Monster Cable territory.
    I doubt you guys pay $20 for a 6' HDMI cable today or paid $20 for a 6' USB A-B printer cable back in the day before wireless connectivity. Monoprice is my usual source for my cabling needs and they are STELLAR. They currently sell 30-pin cables for $3.25.
    If they would sell Lightning cables on the cheap, I'd have no fear buying from them.

    Yep, every single one. The apple ones broke too, but I simply set up a Apple warranty exchange and bam, next morning a fresh cable arrives at my doorstep for free..so why bother with knock offs? Knock off HDMI cables? Don't buy those either, (like my amazon basic/mediabridge branded cables.

    Piece of mind is cheaper then taking a risk and frying my iphone which I paid full price this year..you can be cheap though no ones stopping you..that's the only reason the knock off industry exist because people cheap out..but complain later if something goes wrong and ends up killing the device..
  • Reply 19 of 24
    "contains a chip that uses a one-pin serial connection for a fixed indentification number"

    Ha, if they are all the same number an update could simply blacklist a million + cables instantly.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,215member
    I just repeat my comment again that many thousands of people haunted the Apple support pages all sharing their woes about MBPs that 'tingled'. The problem was knock off MBP power supplies sold through Amazon which didn't support Apple's advanced earthing technology.
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