How to Replace Your Apple Lightning Cable with the Surprising Alternative

I hate to say it, but the Apple Lightning cable sucks. It’s a thin, brilliant, and versatile piece of engineering that, unfortunately, is just not standing up to the rigors of the real world. In fact, it’s so prone to breaking that it has inspired nearly 1,400 reviewers on Apple’s own online store to rate the cable at barely more than 1 star out of 5.

What’s worse is that the darn thing costs $19 a pop, which has spawned a whole industry that has created knockoffs and non-certified cables that not only suck worse, they are outright dangerous. Bottom line? Don’t buy any third-party charging device that is not certified by Apple and manufactured by a brand you can trust. At best, the cord or charger will fail. At worst, it can break your iPhone or — as has happened in China — electrocute you.

So yeah, iPhone and iPad owners are between a rock and a hard place. Who to trust?

You can go back to Apple, of course, or if you’re close to an Apple Retail Store, take your Lightning cable in and ask for a replacement. If you’re on Apple Care or purchased your device within the last year, Apple will likely replace it free, no questions asked.

My iPhone 5’s Lightning cable lasted well over a year, while four others in my circle of family and friends have corroded or failed within 6-8 months of use, all of which suddenly seemed to die within 10 days of one another. Solar flare? Alien plot? Who knows.

Enter the AmazonBasics Lightning Cable

As it turns out, Amazon has created a little sub-brand of manufacturing that builds what it calls AmazonBasics Accessories and Electronics. Basically, Amazon is mass-producing commonly used items at a high quality with very reasonable prices. I personally view AmazonBasics as a gift to mankind. For instance, if you’re tired of shelling out for stupidly expensive HDMI cables, you can get a 6.5′ HDMI cable from AmazonBasics for just $5.99.

Instead of replacing my failed Apple Lightning cable from Apple, surprise, surprise, I chose the AmazonBasics version instead for $13.99. (I actually bundled it with an AmazonBasics 2-port USB Car Charger.) Who knew Amazon, which just announced a competing smartphone, the Amazon Fire Phone, would bother producing cables for Apple devices?

The AmazonBasics Lightning cable is Apple Certified, which means the thing should not only work with all iOS devices with Lightning ports, it should not fail when Apple updates iOS. (Many non-certified third-party cables were generating annoying pop-ups when iPhone owners used the knockoff cables.)

The build quality seems great and I’ve been pleased so far. You can choose white or black (but the white version is a little more expensive and harder to ship with Amazon Prime than the black version). The most obvious difference with the cable is that the business end of the Lightning cable where it plugs into your iOS device has a thicker plastic covering. If you’ve got a case with a tiny opening for the Lightning port, the AmazonBasics cable might not fit.

Now, why not recommend a pretty pink or green cable from some other manufacturer? Other than knowing that some of them seem to have higher rates of failure, the AmazonBasics cable has an excellent reputation. And customer reviews? The AmazonBasics Lightning cable has garnered nearly 8,500 reviews from customers rating it 4 out of 5 stars. (The official Apple Lightning cable is fairing better on Amazon, also racking up 4 out of 5 stars from nearly 3,000 customers.)

So what’s the difference this time, other than saving a few bucks?

Easy. I’m irritated, and I don’t want to spend my “cable” money with Apple this time. And I hope you don’t either.

Get the “Basics” Gear from Amazon:


Want More Bites?

About the author

Chris Maxcer

Twitter Website

I've been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and I still remember the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. I'm a big fan of elegant gear and great tech, but there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. Online I like to call out cool stuff on Wicked Cool Bite and blog with my buddies at Man Makes Fire. To catch me, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at the url of this site.