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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 When to Throw Away Your Fraying Cables & Phone Chargers When to Throw Away Your Fraying Cables & Phone Chargers Let's cut to the chase here — in a benevolent ploy we only really want you to read this article for one reason: to throw away those shredded, damaged chargers NOW. Read More . 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 AppleCare: What Are Your Options & Is It Really Worth It? AppleCare: What Are Your Options & Is It Really Worth It? High customer satisfaction ratings and a large network of stores capable of performing certain repairs on-site give AppleCare the edge over the average warranty - but are the benefits really worth the price? Read More ). Another options is to ditch Apple’s cable altogether and get something better made by a third party.

Anker PowerLine ($10/£6.50)

Everyone’s favorite Lightning cable

Anker’s PowerLine is the unanimous choice among several tech reviewers, and it has rave reviews on Amazon too. For just 10 bucks, you get an MFi-certified cable, specialized to resist fraying. And it charges all Apple devices at full speed.

Best-Lightning-cables-iPhone-iPad-Anker-Powerline

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 This Is Why Your Headphones Keep Breaking This Is Why Your Headphones Keep Breaking I can’t be the only one frustrated by the constant breaking of my headphones, earbuds, and pretty much anything else that has wiring, right? There are few feelings in the world that are worse than... Read More . The company has reinforced the stress point around the Lightning pin, which is where most cables fray. Where the Apple cable seems flimsy, this seems sturdy.

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And all that 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.

Anker PowerLine Lightning Cable (3ft) Apple MFi Certified Lightning Cable / Charger Cord, for iPhone 7/7 Plus 6/6s Plus 5/5s/5c, iPad mini/Air/Pro iPod touch (White) Anker PowerLine Lightning Cable (3ft) Apple MFi Certified Lightning Cable / Charger Cord, for iPhone 7/7 Plus 6/6s Plus 5/5s/5c, iPad mini/Air/Pro iPod touch (White) The Anker Advantage: Join the 10 million+ powered by our leading technology. Buy Now At Amazon $7.99

The Anker Powerline is also available in 6 feet ($13) and 10 feet ($15) versions, in case you want a longer cord.

AmazonBasics Lightning to USB Cable ($6/£5.30)

The cheapest cable you should buy

If you search on Amazon, you’ll find Lightning cables as low as $2, but that doesn’t mean you should buy them. They use low quality wires, aren’t always MFi-certified, and can damage your iPhone or iPad.

Best-Lightning-cables-iPhone-iPad-AmazonBasics

When it comes to decent quality cables, the AmazonBasics cable is as cheap as you can (or should) go. It’s a simple, no-fuss wire that just gets the job done. Just like other AmazonBasics producuts like the Bluetooth keyboard AmazonBasics Bluetooth Keyboard Review and Giveaway AmazonBasics Bluetooth Keyboard Review and Giveaway Today, I will be reviewing the AmazonBasics Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad/iPhone, which is Amazon’s own take on the Bluetooth keyboard niche. This keyboard currently sells for $45 on Amazon, and we bought this unit ourselves... Read More .

Amazon claims it has added measures to reduce fraying, but you’ll find plenty of reviewers who say it is as durable as the official Apple cable.

AmazonBasics Apple Certified Lightning to USB Cable - 3 Feet (0.9 Meters) - Black AmazonBasics Apple Certified Lightning to USB Cable - 3 Feet (0.9 Meters) - Black Apple MFi certified charging and syncing cable for your Apple devices Buy Now At Amazon $5.99

Keep in mind that the AmazonBasics cable has a thick neck, so it might not fit into all cases.

Zoook Flat Cable ($15)

Tangle-free, flat cable that won’t fray easily

What do I use? A Zoook flat-alloy, tangle-free Lightning cable. This thing has never failed me, nor has it frayed for the many users I’ve recommended it to over the years.

Best-Lightning-cables-iPhone-iPad-zoook-flat-cable

As cheap as the Anker Powerline and just as durable, this is a flat cable which immediately looks different from others. The flat construction style also makes it tangle-free, so even when you toss it in your bag, it’s not going to come out as a coiled mess. It’s one of the simplest ways to avoid cable clutter Drowning In Cable Clutter? Cable Storage Tips To Tidy Your Home Drowning In Cable Clutter? Cable Storage Tips To Tidy Your Home Read More . Both ends of the cable are sturdy, and bending them regularly for over a year hasn’t left any noticeable marks.

Flat cables are pretty common, and there are several other brands that are as good, like Belkin’s MIXIT cable ($20). But that doesn’t make Zoook’s offering any better, and it’s something I can personally vouch for.

Volts Heavy Duty Lightning Cable ($11)

Braided nylon, anodized aluminum, reinforced cable

If you’re looking for a reinforced, sturdy cable without spending a bomb, then our Lightning cable review roundup Lightning Cable Review Round-Up and Giveaway Lightning Cable Review Round-Up and Giveaway Read More vouches for the Volts Heavy Duty cables.

Best-Lightning-cables-iPhone-iPad-Volts

A small connector that fits into most cases, the nylon coating also makes it difficult to bend and easy to use. You might have some trouble bending it at tight angles though. But at such a low price, you won’t get any other cable that you’ll feel confident about not fraying.

MOS Spring Lightning Cable - MFi, Aluminum Heads, Steel Spring Relief & Exoskeleton Braided Jacket, Deep Grey, v2.0, 3 ft. MOS Spring Lightning Cable - MFi, Aluminum Heads, Steel Spring Relief & Exoskeleton Braided Jacket, Deep Grey, v2.0, 3 ft. Anodized aluminum heads not only give added protection to the conductor, it also gives the Spring a classy, high quality look and feel. Buy Now At Amazon $24.95

Fuse Chicken Titan Cable ($35/£24)

The toughest Lightning cable out there

Billed as the toughest Lightning cable around, the Fuse Chicken Titan is the cable that never breaks. If you’re worried about your dog chewing the wire or the cable getting frayed in daily rough use, buy this one.

The Fuse Chicken Titan’s wires are wrapped by flexible steel, not once but twice! Yes, that makes it a bit heavy, but what you get is a cable that nothing can scratch through. All you want is the assurance that your wire isn’t going to break when you need it most, and that’s what the Titan provides.

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.

Fuse Chicken Titan Lightning Cable 3 Ft (MFI Certified) Fuse Chicken Titan Lightning Cable 3 Ft (MFI Certified) Meet the Toughest Cable on Earth Buy Now At Amazon $29.96

Apple USB-C to Lightning ($25)

The fastest cable, especially for iPad Pro

Apple is firmly behind the new USB Type-C port on MacBooks What Is USB Type-C? What Is USB Type-C? Ah, the USB plug. It is as ubiquitous now as it is notorious for never being able to be plugged in right the first time. Read More . How do you connect a MacBook to an iPhone? With the USB-C to Lightning cable. And this is actually the fastest charger Apple has now.

Best-Lightning-cables-iPhone-iPad-USB-C

The large 12.9-inch iPad Pro charges faster with this cable than any other. In tests run by MacStories, the USB-C to Lightning was twice as fast at charging the iPad Pro as the standard cable packaged with it.

You’ll also need to get Apple’s 29W USB-C Power Adapter with it, but hey, quicker speed beats everything else. Just remember, this is an advantage only on the iPad Pro right now, not any iPhone or other device.

Belkin Rockstar / iLDock ($10)

Adapters for iPhone 7 to Increase Lightning Ports

Things have also become a bit more complicated since the iPhone 7 removed the headphone jack No Stereo Jack, No Problem: Why the iPhone 7 Sounds Great No Stereo Jack, No Problem: Why the iPhone 7 Sounds Great It's official -- Apple has removed the standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7. But don't worry, this is a good thing. Read More . Now that wired headphones also need to connect to the Lightning port, you need to consider buying a splitter.

Best-Lightning-cables-iPhone-iPad-belkin

The Belkin Rockstar turns a single Lightning port into two Lightning ports. With this attachment, you can connect one pair of wired Lighting headphones and charge your iPhone at the same time. You really should just buy Bluetooth headphones instead, but if you’re going to insist on not going wireless this is the price you pay.

iLDock is a new name, entering the market specifically for the iPhone 7. It’s a tiny adapter that plugs into the Lightning port, and has two outlets: another Lightning port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. That’s right, you can plug in your regular headphones and start listening to whatever you want. And at 10 bucks, that’s pretty cheap. But remember, it’s a new startup, so we always advise proceeding with caution.

Which Lightning Cable Do You Use?

Of all these options, the Zoook Flat Cable gets my vote, but I’m also quite tempted by the MOS Spring Cable. At the moment, the USB-C to Lightning cable doesn’t make much sense. But given how quickly the USB-C standard is being adopted, it might be a future-proof investment.

Are you still using the Apple Lightning cable that came with your iPhone or iPad, or have you switched to a new company’s MFi-certified cable? Which of your Lightning cables has lasted the longest, and do you fear them getting frayed? Let’s talk about the flimsy state of cables in the comments.

Article updated by Mihir Patkar on November 23, 2016.

  1. James
    October 27, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Can you update this article? The first product link brings you to a blank page, the Amazon product is no longer offered by Amazon, the Belkin product gets trashed in the Amazon review section

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 30, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Done! :)

  2. Bhagyesh
    March 3, 2016 at 7:23 am

    What about boat cable? Is it good?

  3. ginomazz
    November 3, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    I've been using the Slim Cable from Charge Slim. Its $15 and its 2M long and has a reversible USB. I also use the bracelet cable but I got it cheaper at Marshals

  4. Cameron
    May 15, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    I've been using the $8 Anker cable that the Wirecutter recommends. http://amzn.to/1PnTyz1

    • michelle
      May 19, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      I just purchased the Anker cables and hope to have a positive experience. How long have your been using yours?

    • Cameron
      May 19, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      about 6 months. They are a little more stiff than the Apple cables but the quality seems pretty similar.

      • md rahil
        July 10, 2016 at 3:52 pm

        can i buy anker cable for my 5s..?

  5. Sindelle
    April 7, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    I am presently in the process of sending my iphone charging cable back to Griffin. Those cables are bulky and look sturdy but they break in the same spot the other ones do.

  6. Rhonda
    February 24, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    I'm coming in way late to this conversation but quality of the cable needs to be something included here. The older Apple products had very sturdy cables but I've burned through 5 on my iPad in the year that I've owned it and I rarely use my iPad while it's charging, so I'm not yanking the cables around. For example, I've had a cord plugged into the wall, next to my nightstand, and I only charge my iPad there. Cord started cutting out while charging a few weeks ago and now every time I plug it in, it says it won't charge. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. I've never yanked the cord or misused it in any way. A revised post including quality of the build would be helpful, as I'm sick of spending between $8-$30 for cords that a pieces of crap.

  7. Michael
    May 19, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    I use the cables from monoprice.com, guaranteed for life, and have never had a problem. They are up to 10 feet long. Work great.

    • chetna
      December 16, 2014 at 4:59 am

      michael can u send me that link from where u got the cables

    • Eric K
      February 14, 2015 at 9:08 pm

      I would appreciate a link as well

  8. Lisa
    May 14, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    I don't understand. The original cord that came with my iPhone doesn't have the writing on it. I just bought a couple of off-brand ten foot cords and they don't have the writing but they look exactly like the Apple cords shown. They're not safe?

  9. Ira B
    May 14, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I have to agree with TA. In all these years, I've yet to damage a cord and I think I'm fairly rough, but not abusive to them

  10. Mike LaPlante
    May 14, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    I would just go to any electronics store and look for isle marked 'Suckers Here' and pick up whatever apple accessories you need.

  11. John W
    May 14, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    The twenty dollar Lightning to 30 pin should be supplied by Apple with every phone or tablet. They could also give you a Lightning to USB cable - but they don't.
    Disregarding MFi for a moment, if you go on Ali Express or Deal Extreme you'll see that these adapters are all made in China and sell for a few dollars - this includes international postage and a small profit for both the manufacturer and the wholesaler.
    The mark up on these adapters is absolutely outrageous. Apple treat their customers with utter contempt most of the time and yet people still keep buying their stuff.
    Buy something Android with a micro USB plug and take your family away for a nice weekend with all the money you save.
    Incidentally, even the Amazon cables are a rip-off.

  12. Wim
    May 14, 2014 at 8:29 am

    It could be useful if you listed the cables that I wanted to see when I clicked this image in my Facebook feed.

    I came here to get a nice long comparative list of good cables with their advantages and disadvantages listed and then a comparison between them, but instead I get a small list of 4 cables, one of which is an overpriced bracelet, and none of them are flat, as seen in the picture on my Facebook feed.

    Please do not use pictures that do not relate to an article (not even when it is a very close match), only use images that you refer to in an article.

    • Mihir Patkar
      May 14, 2014 at 9:01 am

      Sorry about that, not trying to mislead you, it was just a really nice image which the others didn't provide. For the record, that's the Incase 3-foot flat cable which costs $30, which is quite overpriced. Their flat cable is only available in the 3-foot size. Here's the link: http://goincase.com/shop/incase-3-foot-sync-and-charge-flat-cable

  13. sal belleci
    May 14, 2014 at 3:28 am

    My Question is Thickness of the Cable. I Bought 2 Cables 6 ft & One Cable 6ft
    The Two Cables are Thin & the One is Thick Does it Mater either Way Thickness & Length ?

  14. TA
    May 14, 2014 at 2:48 am

    Interesting.
    However, I have been an iphone user since 2007 and have yet to damage or destroy any of my charging cables. As a matter of fact I have all of them.
    Of course, if you get used to yanking cables out of ports, nothing will survive.
    The problem could well be the rough use; you cannot expect anything like that to survive abuse.

    • Mark Hansen
      May 17, 2014 at 5:02 am

      I've heard about many people needing to buy new chargers for their iphone. It's very few I've heard needing to buy a new one for pretty much any other brand.
      Whether it's disproportionate to the amount of users, if iphone users are more violent with their chargers because they're technotards or if the chargers are actually weak constructed, I can't say.
      I don't understand how anyone ruins their charger anyway. Do people actually yank and pull it around, trying to stretch it longer than the cable is etc.? I would advice not doing so, no matter the brand.

    • Stephanie S
      May 17, 2014 at 6:27 am

      @Mark Hansen & @TA I still have my idevice cables and they are fine! I didn't know the cables falling apart was a problem until I read this article. I have an iPhone and an iPad and both cables are in out-of-the-box shape. Hmmm - I must be doing something wrong or is it right?

  15. Zack McCauley
    May 13, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    First off: the amazon cable is $14.99 plus shipping. It is only free on orders over $35.

    Second off @Navanski , while you bring a great point up, it also helps clear out the crapware cords. It is a great way to assure us users that this cord will transfer properly and send the correct current thru for charging. I would love apple to use Micro USB as it is, as stated, the most commonly used port BUT I would end up losing the speed that a lightning cable is capable of comparatively. Lightning Cables are faster, can be used in either direction (up down compared to the Micro USB one way), and are overall safer for the device.

  16. Navanski
    May 13, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Never knew you Apple users had so much trouble with, what seems, such an elementary piece of kit. That's yet another reason for me to steer clear. Thanks for the heads up.

    • P.f. B
      May 15, 2014 at 12:38 am

      There is little differennce in length and no difference in quality between the default Lightning cable that comes with an Apple device and the typical USB cable that comes with a typical Android device. I know this because I have an iPad 4th gen and a Google (LG) Nexus 5 (Late 2013). The stock Apple-branded Lightning cable is about three feet long, as specified, while the USB A-to-USB-Micro cable that came with the Nexus is just about one meter long or so.

      So I would recommend steering clear of your clear anti-Apple bias, not necessarily Apple products. Get your hands on things and buy what works.

    • Mark Hansen
      May 17, 2014 at 4:58 am

      You can't really say anything general about Android device's charger length based on a Google Nexus alone.
      Having said that, fuck it all, my Nokia came with a like 3 meter long charger. It's about 2.9 meters longer than I need, but it's folded neatly together the way it came out of the box.

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