Ever since the release of the 2015 iPad Pro 12.9, if iOS device owners wanted to take advantage of rapid USB PD charging capabilities, they had to spring for Apple’s overpriced, questionably durable USB-C to Lightning cable. There was no third-party solution, because accessories OEMs like Anker had no way of purchasing the USB PD compatible version of the Lightning connector (C94) from Apple’s internal suppliers.
Also: Hey Apple: Forget AirPower. Get your accessories act together
Now, three years since the release of the 2015 iPad Pro 12.9, and going on nearly a year and a half since the September 2017 release of the iPhone 8 (the first model that permitted USB PD rapid charging), Apple has finally allowed OEMs to purchase that connector as part of its MFi Licensing Program. The connector, which contains a special chip of Apple’s own design to regulate power, costs under $3 in volume orders.
The first OEM, which has released a cable for pre-order, is Anker — probably the most reputable of third-party cable, charger, and battery accessories for Apple and Android devices.
I was able to obtain an early sample of this cable, the PowerLine II, which initially comes in a 3-foot length for $15.99. If you have current-generation iOS products that can accommodate USB PD charging, you need to immediately order a few of these.
Why immediately? Well, first, it’s about $4 less than Apple’s version at retail. That doesn’t sound like a heck of a big difference, but let’s look at the two cables closely.
The Anker PowerLine II is on the top and the Apple OEM USB-C to Lightning is on the bottom. First, which may not be obvious due to the closeup, is the much thicker insulation on the main cable length itself. It’s made out of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), which makes the cable much more durable than Apple’s part and virtually all other charging cables on the market overall. The Anker cable has a lifetime warranty and is tested with an MTBF of about 12,000 bends.
I’ve purchased at least a dozen of the original Apple USB-C to Lightning cables for use with various OEM Apple and third-party USB PD charging products, and many become damaged after about three months of use. I’ve become so used to this that I always carry spares in my bag, and I have a box with Apple’s OEM ready to give to friends and family that need them in a pinch, because they die so often.
The other thing you will notice is a much more robust enclosure around the Lightning and the USB-C ends of the cable, particularly where the cable meets the head ends. There’s very little bendy-ness there, which will prevent unnecessary wear and tear.
Since you are replacing your junky Apple OEM cable, you should also consider Anker’s PowerPort Atom PD 1 (pictured top, with PowerLine II cable), a new USB-C tiny wall charger that can deliver up to 30W of power to a USB PD-compatible device. That means it’s good for your new iPhones, your iPad Pros, and your MacBooks — and, of course, your new Android devices and your USB PD batteries that need charging, as well.
It’s tiny compared to Apple’s OEM USB-C chargers, because it utilizes Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology, which is state of the art in component miniaturization for charging accessories manufacturing. Alternatively, you should also have a look at RAVPower’s GaN charger, which is flat and has a 45W capacity and a folding 2-prong AC connector. I’ve been using this product and the Anker PowerPort Atom PD 1, and both are very good.
Have you been waiting for a decent USB-C to Lightning cable that doesn’t fall apart after a few months? Talk Back and Let Me Know.
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