The 6 Best Lightning Cables to Charge Your iPhone or iPad

The 6 Best Lightning Cables to Charge Your iPhone or iPad

Apple makes fantastic mobile products, but its flimsy Lightning-to-USB cable deteriorates too quickly. One of the most common problems faced by iPhone and iPad owners is a frayed Lightning connector. Surely there must be tougher, more rugged options?

The obvious solution is to go back to the Apple store and claim the warranty (or AppleCare if you have it). Another option is to ditch Apple’s cable altogether and get something better that’s made by a third party, like these options.

1. Anker Powerline+ II: Strong Cable With Lifetime Replacement Warranty

Anker PowerLine+ II Lightning Cable (6ft), MFi Certified for Flawless Compatibility with iPhone X/8/8 Plus/7/7 Plus/6/6 Plus/5/5S and More(Red) Anker PowerLine+ II Lightning Cable (6ft), MFi Certified for Flawless Compatibility with iPhone X/8/8 Plus/7/7 Plus/6/6 Plus/5/5S and More(Red) Buy Now At Amazon $ 17.99

Anker has hit it out of the park with its Powerline+ II Lightning Cable. The nylon braiding on the cable ensures it won’t fray at the connector point and that it will withstand the tugs and tangles of regular usage.

In fact, Anker is so confident that regular use won’t damage this cable that it’s offering an unprecedented “hassle-free replacement” lifetime warranty. If you have any quality issues, Anker will replace the cable for free.

The Powerline+ II also comes with a cool travel case. Smartly, the case has zippers on both sides, so you can take out a little bit of both wire ends while keeping most of it still wrapped up in the case. This especially helps with longer-length cables.

We’ve highlighted the 6-foot model above, but the Anker Powerline+ II is also available in 3-foot and 10-foot models.

2. Anker Powerline: The Cheapest Worthwhile Cable

iPhone Charger, Anker PowerLine Lightning Cable (3ft), MFi Certified for iPhone X / 8 / 8 Plus / 7 / 7 Plus / 6 / 6 Plus / 5S (White) iPhone Charger, Anker PowerLine Lightning Cable (3ft), MFi Certified for iPhone X / 8 / 8 Plus / 7 / 7 Plus / 6 / 6 Plus / 5S (White) Buy Now At Amazon $ 7.99

The original Anker Powerline may be old, but it’s still fantastic value for money. Forget about AmazonBasics or other cheap cables—this is the best budget buy. It is MFi-certified, designed to resist fraying, and charges all Apple devices at full speed.

Anker claims to use Kevlar cables that can withstand bending up to 5,000 times. Bending is the primary reason why cables and headphones keep breaking. The company has reinforced the stress point around the Lightning pin, which is where most cables fray.

All this is without sacrificing compactness. Some sturdy cables end up with a fat casing around the Lightning pin connector, which makes it difficult to connect if your iPhone has a case. Anker’s PowerLine has no such issues, and fits comfortably wherever the standard Apple Lightning cable can go.

3. Belkin MIXIT Flat Cable: No Tangles, Twists, or Frays

Belkin Apple Certified MIXIT 4-Foot Flat Lightning to USB Cable (Black) Belkin Apple Certified MIXIT 4-Foot Flat Lightning to USB Cable (Black) Buy Now At Amazon $ 19.99

Flat cables are excellent for those who carry cables loosely in their backpacks or pockets. Such types of cables don’t tangle or twist easily, making them last longer than standard wired cables. They are also a little more resistant to stress at the connector point, so they don’t fray easily.

I’ve used a Zoook flat Lightning cable for years, but that is no longer available. The Belkin MIXIT Flat Cable is another such excellent flat cable with MFi certification.

Again, it’s important to note the lack of extra bulk in the housing of the actual connector pin. This ensures the Belkin MIXIT works even when you have a thick case on your iPhone, whereas several other flat cables would not connect properly when used with a case.

4. Fuse Chicken Titan Plus: Strong, Pet-Proof Cable

Did your puppy or cat chew through your charging cable? Houses with pets would do well to get the Fuse Chicken Titan Plus, one of the strongest Lightning cables that is decidedly pet-proof too.

The Titan+ cable is wrapped in two layers of flexible steel. The Lightning and USB connectors are sealed with a one-piece housing over the cable and electronics, then with another aluminum housing for added protection. In other words, if you manage to break or fray this cable, you need to have a good, hard look at what you are doing with your life.

There are a couple of issues with it, though. First, the connector is a little thick, so it might not fit all cases. Second, the steel makes it difficult to coil this into a tight, small circle. Be aware of those trade-offs before you buy it. The Titan+ also has only one length, available in a 5-foot model.

If you like this, you might also want to check out the Fuse Chicken Titan Loop, a tough keychain that doubles as a cable.

5. Apple USB-C to Lightning: For iPad Pro Users

Apple MQGJ2AM/A USB-C to Lightning Cable (1m) Apple MQGJ2AM/A USB-C to Lightning Cable (1m) Buy Now At Amazon $ 19.00

Apple is standing firmly behind the USB-C port on MacBooks. Thus, you connect a new MacBook to an iPhone with the Apple USB-C to Lightning Cable. And this is actually the fastest charger Apple has now.

You can charge the new iPad Pro much faster by using a 30W Apple USB-C adapter. The regular charger that ships with iPhones and iPads is a 12W adapter. The 30W adapter charges about three times faster.

The Apple-controlled MFi certification for such USB-C to Lightning cables is available only in this model made by Apple for now. Thus, it’s the only cable I feel comfortable recommending.

Owners of iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus will be glad to know there’s no real reason to get the 30W adapter and USB-C to Lightning cable. Yes, it is faster even on the new iPhones, but it’s only marginally faster than the adapter that comes in your box.

6. Belkin Audio + Charge RockStar: Split One Lightning Port Into Two Ports

Belkin 3.5 mm Audio + Charge RockStar Headphone Jack Adapter for iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Belkin 3.5 mm Audio + Charge RockStar Headphone Jack Adapter for iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Buy Now At Amazon $ 33.99 Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar Adapter for iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar Adapter for iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Buy Now At Amazon $ 39.98

Apple removed the 3.5mm audio jack, so now there’s only one port on iPhones. This Lightning port is for both charging your phone as well as using wired headphones. If you want to do both simultaneously, get the Belkin Audio + Charge RockStar.

This device is a splitter adapter, letting you connect two cables into the single port. It comes in two variants, so choose one based on what you want to do.

The Belkin 3.5mm Audio + Charge Rockstar has one headphone port and one Lightning port, so you can charge your device and use traditional headphones. Meanwhile, the Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge Rockstar has two Lightning ports.

Honestly, I’d say you should ditch both. The new wireless Bluetooth headphones for iPhone are great. You’re better off buying those and not bothering with a clunky adapter.

More Great Lightning Cables for iPhones and iPads

As the list shows, new cables obviously cater to certain users or add features that are missing. But a cable is a cable, and some old choices like the Anker Powerline are still excellent bang for buck.

Check out our earlier roundup of Lightning cables; you might just find something else that fits your needs perfectly.

Read the full article: The 6 Best Lightning Cables to Charge Your iPhone or iPad

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Making Sense of USB-C and Thunderbolt Cables and Ports on Your MacBook

The latest MacBook Pro sheds almost all ports; it includes only a headphone jack, a few USB-C connectors, and it also supports the latest high-speed Thunderbolt 3 standards. What’s the difference?

Despite the “U” in USB standing for “universal,” the standard has come under fire for confusing consumers. Some cable manufacturers have been accused of breaking standards, and cheap USB-C cables might even damage your electronics.

Let’s try and make sense of this mess of MacBook ports.

What Is USB-C?

Also known as USB Type-C, USB-C is a symmetrical connector designed to replace the existing Type-A and Type-B connectors. Unlike its predecessors, you can insert USB-C any way. That means no more fishing around in the dark wondering whether you’re holding the cable the right way round.

USB-C strictly relates to the shape of the connector and the port into which it fits. It’s not a standard for data transmission, like USB 2.0 or 3.1. Despite USB-C using a 24-pin connector, many different standards have used the USB-C shape.

All USB-C cables must be able to carry at least a 3A current up to 60W at 20V. Many smartphones use the USB-C standard to facilitate fast charging, which pulls in a higher voltage thanks to the increased power throughput.

Different Types of USB connectors
Image Credits: Simon Eugster/Wikimedia Commons and Andreas Pietzowski/Wikimedia Commons

Some USB-C cables can carry 5A for 100W at 20V, enough to charge the latest high-end MacBooks and HP Spectre line of laptops (to name but a few). Devices using the USB-C standard for data and power transfer include Google’s Pixel smartphones, the latest MacBook Pro, the Nintendo Switch, and many portable USB batteries.

USB-C’s Alternate Modes

Not all USB-C cables are made equal. Many devices, like the latest MacBooks, let you use USB-C cables for a range of “Alternate Modes” including:

  • DisplayPort Alternate Mode: Send DisplayPort video using the new-shape USB-C connector.
  • Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) Alternate Mode: Send MHL audio and video using USB-C.
  • Thunderbolt Alternate Mode: Connect Thunderbolt devices using the USB-C connector.
  • HDMI Alternate Mode: Send HDMI audio and video via USB-C.

There’s something important to note if you intend on using any of these standards. You must buy a cable that explicitly states it is compatible with the mode you want to use. So if you want to connect your TV to your MacBook over USB-C, make sure the cable supports HDMI Alternate Mode.

What Is Thunderbolt 3?

Thunderbolt is a hardware interface developed by Intel and Apple, introduced to the market in 2011. Thunderbolt 3 is the latest iteration of this standard, which has become a signature MacBook port. Whereas the first two generations of Thunderbolt devices used the Mini DisplayPort connector, Thunderbolt 3 uses USB-C exclusively.

Much of the confusion surrounding USB-C and Thunderbolt relates to the shape of the connector. You cannot buy Thunderbolt 3 cables that don’t use the USB-C standard. At the same time, Thunderbolt 2 cables don’t fit into Thunderbolt 3 ports since they’re a different shape (they are backwards-compatible with the right adapter though).

Mini DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 1/2 Connector

Thunderbolt 3 improves on the standard in almost every way. It doubles the bandwidth of the previous generation to 40Gbps. It’s now also USB compatible, which means it can combine multiple technologies into one port. Add to this the array of Alternate Mode applications as outlined above, and you’ve got one port to rule them all.

The latest standard supports HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2 (with resolutions up to 4K), and PCIe 3.0. This provides enough bandwidth to finally realize the potential of external graphics cards. It can also incorporate USB Power Delivery, with up to 100w of power throughput. This is how Apple was able to replace MagSafe power connectors with USB-C ports on its latest machines.

USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 connectors

Thunderbolt has one last trick up its sleeve: daisy chaining. You can connect Thunderbolt devices in a daisy chain, allowing you to link multiple devices together and still only use a single USB port on your computer.

The superior speeds and connectivity over USB 3.1 and similar standards are made possible because Thunderbolt cables are active. A microchip built into the connector enables higher performance and greater versatility than standard “passive” USB cables. You can still use passive USB-C cables used to connect some Thunderbolt 3 devices, but they will work at much slower speeds.

Compatibility With MacBook and Other Macs

The following Apple computers are compatible with Thunderbolt 3, using USB-C connectors:

  • MacBook Pro, late 2016 and newer
  • iMac, mid 2017 and newer
  • iMac with Retina Display, mid 2017 and newer
  • iMac Pro, late 2017 and newer

macbook ports - MacBook Pro connectors

The following Apple computers are compatible with Thunderbolt 2, using Mini DisplayPort connectors:

  • MacBook Pro Retina, late 2013-mid 2015
  • MacBook Air, early 2015-mid 2017
  • iMac, late 2015
  • iMac with Retina Display, late 2014-late 2015
  • Mac mini, late 2014

macbook ports - MacBook Air right side

The following Apple computers are compatible with the original Thunderbolt standard, using Mini DisplayPort connectors:

  • MacBook Pro Retina, mid 2012-early 2013
  • MacBook Air, mid 2011-early 2014
  • iMac, late 2012-mid 2014
  • Mac mini, mid 2011-late 2012

Not sure which computer you have? Boot it up, log in, and click on the Apple menu in the top-left of the screen. Select About This Mac and you’ll see information pertaining to your model beneath your current macOS version number. Note that the regular MacBook model doesn’t support Thunderbolt at all, just USB-C and USB 3.1.

Thunderbolt 3 Cables and Adapters

Apple does not supply a Thunderbolt 3 cable with new MacBooks. The USB-C cables and adapters used to charge Apple’s latest laptops are only capable of USB 2.0 speeds. Depending on the model, these can carry power throughputs of 27W, 60W, and 87W at maximum load.

USB-C charging cable

Buying the right cable is important. If you’re buying a cable to use with your new USB-C Mac, you have two choices: USB or Thunderbolt.

In terms of speed:

  • USB 3.1 gen 1 (also known as SuperSpeed USB 3.0) supports up to 5Gbps
  • USB 3.1 gen 2 supports up to 10Gbps
  • Thunderbolt 1 up to 10Gbps
  • Thunderbolt 2 up to 20Gbps
  • Thunderbolt 3 up to 40Gbps

USB-C cables come in a variety of speeds and configurations. The thicker (5A) cables will carry a higher voltage and allow you to charge more power-hungry devices. USB is fully backwards compatible, and you can even use USB-C with the traditional USB-A connector if you buy an adapter.

USB-C cables will have some limited Thunderbolt compatibility, and transfer speeds may even exceed those of USB 3.1. However, because USB-C cables are passive and not active, they are no replacement for Thunderbolt 3 cables. Check out our roundup of the best USB-C cables.

Thunderbolt 3 cables are generally more expensive, since they have more technology inside them. They aren’t always compatible with the USB 3.1 gen 2 standard, especially if they’re longer than around 1.5 feet.

Thunderbolt 3 or Not: What’s Best for My Needs?

If you’re confused, you’re not alone. The industry has done little to ease the head-scratching that comes with deciphering which peripheral you need. If in doubt, look at what you will be using your cable for. Here are some ideas:

  • Connecting a Thunderbolt display? Buy an active Thunderbolt 3 cable rated for 40Gbps, with enough length to position it where you want it. Use it for Thunderbolt peripherals.
  • Transferring data to your USB 3.1 gen 2 external drive? Buy a USB 3.1 gen 2 cable rated for 10Gbps. Most short Thunderbolt cables of around 1.5 feet will also work, but check first.
  • Charging your new smartphone at 3A? If you’re not using the cable for data transfer, any USB 2.0 cable with a Type-C connector will do (pick one that won’t fry your devices).

Apple Thunderbolt 3 cable

Then there’s the small issue of adapters. Some early Thunderbolt 3-compliant accessories, like adapters for Ethernet or HDMI ports, are not supported by the latest MacBook Pro. macOS will block some peripherals if they are not explicitly supported.

If you’re buying an adapter specifically for use with your Mac, it’s worth going out of your way to ensure it’s compatible with macOS. That means buying Apple’s first party products, buying your peripherals from an Apple Store, or searching the web and asking around before you buy.

Wired vs. Wireless: The Future of MacBook Ports

Cables can ruin the sweetest of setups. The confusion between USB-C, USB 3.1 and its poorly-named iterations, and Thunderbolt 3 doesn’t help. But for the foreseeable future, they’re here to stay, and we’ll have to live with it.

On the plus side, many once-wired peripherals and gadgets are now totally wireless. The latest smartphones can charge wirelessly, wireless keyboards and mice are the norm, and a new Wi-Fi standard is introduced every few years that pushes network speeds ever higher.

Until the wireless future arrives, you’ll just have to manage that cable clutter in smarter ways.

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5 Awesome Micro-USB Cables to Charge Android, Chromecast, or Other Devices

micro-usb-cables

Micro-USB cables are incredibly useful. While USB cables to charge Android and other devices aren’t yet standardized, Micro-USB cables rank among the most common. Yet Micro-USB cables differ significantly. It’s not merely the port that matters. Rather, length and durability remain crucial to quality USB cables. Several factors determine Micro-USB cable robustness and length. Considering how much use Micro-USB cables get, it’s worth upgrading from the stock Micro-USB cable packaged with your phone, tablet, or mp3 player. Check out the top five sturdy and long Micro-USB cables to charge Androids and other devices. Anatomy of a USB Cable Not all…

Read the full article: 5 Awesome Micro-USB Cables to Charge Android, Chromecast, or Other Devices

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