Functional Chinese knock-off of Apple's Lightning cable disassembled

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
One of the first unauthorized Lightning connector cables from China has been tested and torn apart for a closer look at the cheaply made ??but still functional ? counterfeit accessory.

Lightning


Frank Donghi of Toxic Cables reached out to AppleInsider after he got his hands on a knock-off Lightning to USB cable from China for $3.50. He said the cable works as expected for charging and syncing, though he noted the connection is "very noisy" when used with external music players due to a lack of proper shielding when compared to Apple's official cables.

"There is no shielding of any sort," he said.

Even after taking one cable apart to look at its integrated chips, Donghi found that the knock-off Lightning connector still works properly, though he characterized the build quality as "extremely poor." He modifies and resells his own fully custom Lightning cables with silver wires.

Lightning


Donghi added that there are 10 different kinds of knock-off Lightning cables and accessories currently being manufactured in China. He said it's possible that some of the other counterfeit cables could be of higher quality, but the one he obtained is very cheaply made.

Unauthorized Lightning connectors first began shipping from China last week. They include standard USB sync and charge cables, as well as Lightning to 30-pin adapters.

Lightning


Any cables currently being shipped are not Apple-certified Lightning accessories, meaning Chinese companies have reverse engineered Apple's new Lightning connector to make these products. The company is expected to hold an official "Made for iPhone" conference in early November to discuss the terms of the Lightning connector with third-party accessory manufacturers.

The first signs of unauthorized Lightning cables and adapters surfaced last week, when pictures showed a number of Lightning authentication chips that were said to be in production. AppleInsider was first to reveal in September that authentication chips were discovered in disassembling Apple's new Lightning connector, which could make it more difficult for unauthorized cables to be manufactured.

Apple acted quickly to employ Lightning and replace its 30-pin dock connector on its so-called "iDevices." The port first showed up in the iPhone 5 in September, and debuted this month with the new iPod nano, iPod touch, iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad. The only products sold by Apple with the company's legacy 30-pin connector are the iPad 2 and the iPod classic.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 72


    Lightning cables only benefit Apple. I'm glad someone has managed to do this and hopefully many more companies start making 'knock offs'.


     


    Either that or Apple does a u-turn and does the sensible thing by adding micro USB to every device.

  • Reply 2 of 72
    ifij775ifij775 Posts: 470member
    Will these cables even see the light of day in the US. I expect Apple will launch its phalanx of lawyers against these products
  • Reply 3 of 72
    flabberflabber Posts: 100member


    Apple is still going to send out licenses to 3rd party accessoiries-manufacturers, they just haven't done it yet. And in all honesty, while I do applaud 3rd party accessoires (like pretty much everyone I assume), I would not like to see this kind of quality. Something without shielding which gives off static noise and whatnot is not really the type of quality to write home about.

  • Reply 4 of 72
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    neiltc13 wrote: »
    Lightning cables only benefit Apple. I'm glad someone has managed to do this and hopefully many more companies start making 'knock offs'.

    Either that or Apple does a u-turn and does the sensible thing by adding micro USB to every device.

    Yes, because it's sensible to have a poor and limited option for connecting our devices¡ Lets all move backwards in technology¡
  • Reply 5 of 72
    What? Donghi's website charges £100 for an "iPhone-5-Audiophile-Silver-Custom-Made-Lightning-Cable", the only product found by a site search for "lightning".
  • Reply 6 of 72


    Have you ever actually used micro-USB?  Every time I plug the thing in, I have to stop, check the orientation, and then try to insert the thing...sometimes not getting it right on the first try.  The whole point of the new connector was ease of use, and multiple applications.  So you can do USB...or analog audio, or HDMI or whatever comes down the pike.

  • Reply 7 of 72
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,157member
    neiltc13 wrote: »
    Lightning cables only benefit Apple. I'm glad someone has managed to do this and hopefully many more companies start making 'knock offs'.

    Either that or Apple does a u-turn and does the sensible thing by adding micro USB to every device.

    So you actually want a $3.50 cable that is of poor quality and induces noise into the connection? How stupid is that? And I suppose you will blame Apple and claim it's their problem when the cable causes problems? We already see this on forums. Somebody with some el-cheapo router raging against Apple because his iPad won't connect to it.
  • Reply 8 of 72
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    sevenfeet wrote: »
    Have you ever actually used micro-USB?  Every time I plug the thing in, I have to stop, check the orientation, and then try to insert the thing...sometimes not getting it right on the first try.  The whole point of the new connector was ease of use, and multiple applications.  So you can do USB...or analog audio, or HDMI or whatever comes down the pike.

    It's the one of the worst cable plug designs I've ever seen. Too many people plug it in the wrong way and it fails to work which can make a device unusable. It's simply not a durable design compared to most.
  • Reply 9 of 72
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    sevenfeet wrote: »
    Have you ever actually used micro-USB?  Every time I plug the thing in, I have to stop, check the orientation, and then try to insert the thing...sometimes not getting it right on the first try.  The whole point of the new connector was ease of use, and multiple applications.  So you can do USB...or analog audio, or HDMI or whatever comes down the pike.

    I agree. The only upside is that everyone makes the cables. But that's also a downside, a lot of them aren't very well made, mechanically. mini/micro USB tend to behave like a friction fit rather than detent fit. The electical contact isn't always positive either. I think Lightning solves all of these issues, and it should be more flexible.
  • Reply 10 of 72
    emig647emig647 Posts: 2,409member


    Lightning was made to take us 10 years into the future. Most likely to be compatible only with USB 2.0, but 3.0 and thunderbolt as well. Give Apple a chance to get this going before you talk down on it. It's been what, a little over a month?

  • Reply 11 of 72
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,580member
    jeffdm wrote: »
    sevenfeet wrote: »
    Have you ever actually used micro-USB?  Every time I plug the thing in, I have to stop, check the orientation, and then try to insert the thing...sometimes not getting it right on the first try.  The whole point of the new connector was ease of use, and multiple applications.  So you can do USB...or analog audio, or HDMI or whatever comes down the pike.

    I agree. The only upside is that everyone makes the cables. But that's also a downside, a lot of them aren't very well made, mechanically. mini/micro USB are friction fit rather than detent fit. The electical contact isn't always positive either. I think Lightning solves all of these issues, and it should be more flexible.

    Yeah... Micro-USB is a terrible connector standard. We have had several phones in the office break at the connector because the shield allows far too much torque and friction on the PCB connector. I like mini-USB, and most of my rechargeable lights and various accessories use it. Lightning is a well engineered connector.

    My hope with the slow roll-out is that Apple licenses the Lightning connector to other phone manufacturers and for other accessories. I want robust standards that last 10 years and limit my need for more cords...
  • Reply 12 of 72
    So someone can just buy a real one from the Apple store and swap it with this fake and return it? If it looks identical, the store will easily take it back. Just be sure to use cash so it won't be traced back to you, if the store even figured it out. Even if they catch you, you can say that's the original cable that came with it, but I doubt they'll track it.
  • Reply 13 of 72
    I could swear that there was a law that dealt with reverse engineering of encrypted protocols. In particular, it was based on reverse-engineering of the protocol used in printer cartridges. I could swear that the law pretty much said you can't just reverse engineer a communications protocol and sell that product. If that's the case, then as mentioned above, when these hit the shores, there should be lawyers aplenty.

    Does anyone recall the relevant details of the law on this topic? It's been years, so it's fuzzy.
  • Reply 14 of 72
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    encino wrote: »
    So someone can just buy a real one from the Apple store and swap it with this fake and return it? If it looks identical, the store will easily take it back. Just be sure to use cash so it won't be traced back to you, if the store even figured it out. Even if they catch you, you can say that's the original cable that came with it, but I doubt they'll track it.

    They would know their cables so good luck with that. They will probably quickly come out with a way to test cables to ensure they are real for this and 'my iPhone isn't charging' appointments (and start requiring that folks bring in their cables). If a non auth shorts out your phone that is probably a SOL on a covered repair in the terms you didn't read. They might be nice enough to let you buy a swap, even call it 'accidental damage' so you can use your $49 apple care plus.
  • Reply 15 of 72

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by encino View Post



    So someone can just buy a real one from the Apple store and swap it with this fake and return it? If it looks identical, the store will easily take it back. Just be sure to use cash so it won't be traced back to you, if the store even figured it out. Even if they catch you, you can say that's the original cable that came with it, but I doubt they'll track it.


     


    Why go to the effort?   If you are a thief, just steal the cable directly from the apple store. 

  • Reply 16 of 72

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by encino View Post



    So someone can just buy a real one from the Apple store and swap it with this fake and return it? If it looks identical, the store will easily take it back. Just be sure to use cash so it won't be traced back to you, if the store even figured it out. Even if they catch you, you can say that's the original cable that came with it, but I doubt they'll track it.


    Why go to all the effort?  If you are a thief, why not go steal the cable directly from the Apple store?

  • Reply 17 of 72
    galleygalley Posts: 971member
    I prefer the Lightning connector, because I can connect it in the dark.
  • Reply 18 of 72

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Galley View Post



    I prefer the Lightning connector, because I can connect it in the dark.


    That just sounds stupid...which is personally irritating because it is exactly one of the reasons I also like the Lightning connector.

  • Reply 19 of 72
    neiltc13 wrote: »
    Lightning cables only benefit Apple. I'm glad someone has managed to do this and hopefully many more companies start making 'knock offs'.

    Either that or Apple does a u-turn and does the sensible thing by adding micro USB to every device.

    Why would you buy into the Apple ecosystem if everything Apple does is seen as "not sensible" and "only benefits Apple"?
  • Reply 20 of 72
    encino wrote: »
    So someone can just buy a real one from the Apple store and swap it with this fake and return it? If it looks identical, the store will easily take it back. Just be sure to use cash so it won't be traced back to you, if the store even figured it out. Even if they catch you, you can say that's the original cable that came with it, but I doubt they'll track it.

    That's no different from shoplifting. Liberal return policies exist for the customer's benefit, not for exploitation.
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