Is the best Apple-certified Lightning connector cable made by Apple? Three new recharging and syncing cables from Just Mobile offer some handy alternatives to the all-white Apple solutions. So what’s the best alternative iOS Lightning iPhone, iPad recharger connector cable?
Apple’s decision to switch from its wide 30-pin iPod/iPhone/iPad connector to the slim little Lightning connector caused an uproar back in 2012.
All those i-device accessories were apparently rendered obsolete for new Apple mobile products, and Apple was booed for charging £25/ $29 for its 30-pin-to-Lightning dock adapter.
Yes, it made the iPhone and iPad even thinner but the hopeful still appealed to Apple to adopt a more universal charger/connector standard like microUSB. Indeed it may be forced to by European law – see: Apple may be forced to drop Lightning connector for MicroUSB.
But today we’re stuck with Apple’s Lightning connector, and anyone who owns an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch knows you need more than just the one cable that Apple supplies with its devices. At home you might want two, and another for the office.
Holidaymakers are also prone to forgetting their charging cables, and so forced to buy yet another at the airport. I have done that far too many times…
Apple sells extra Lightning cables from £15 (for a 0.5m or 1m Lightning to USB cable) to £25 for a 2m cable. (iPhones and iPads ship with a 1m cable as standard.)
Apple also sells a £15 Lightning to Micro USB Adapter that lets you connect an iOS device with Lightning connector to micro USB cables and chargers to sync and charge your device.
Apple’s Lightning products aren’t cheap, but you can pick up third-party cables for just a few pounds via sites such as eBay and Amazon, as well as dodgy little shops across the country.
The trouble with such cheapies is you don’t know how safe they are. Very few are certified by Apple as safe and fully compatible. And there have been several news stories recently of cheap chargers exploding, giving out electric shocks (a new definition of being struck by Lightning) and even burning down houses.
Just Mobile has now taken the Lightning battle to Apple with a range of Lightning cables – one literally with a twist. All are Apple certified carry its “Made for iPd, iPhone, iPad” badge, so you can be sure of their build quality and safety.
Just Mobile’s Lightning range comes in three versions.
There’s the AluCable Lightning connector cable (above), which measures 1.5m (an inch under 5ft) and the AluCable Mini (below) that is a mere 10cm (4in) long.
Apart from the lengths how do these differ from the Apple versions? They’re black for starters and so suit Apple’s non-white devices better than Apple’s standard white cables that hark back to 2001’s original iPod. Each end of the cable is finished in Mac-like aluminium, which is a neat touch.
I often find Apple’s standard cable too long for my needs and it ends up trailing messily on my desk. There are many times I’ve wished for a much shorter cable and the AluCable Mini is stubby enough to barely register as a cable and keep itself hidden. It’s a great travel solution, weighing next to nothing and taking up less room than a toothbrush.
The really interesting Lightning connector cable from Just Mobile is the AluCable Twist (above). This features a coiled cable that keeps cable clutter to a minimum but is flexible enough when you want to extend to its full 1.8m length.
So we like the looks and lengths of the Just Mobile AluCable range but what about the prices?
If you were hoping for something as safe as the Apple-branded cables but at half the price I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.
The 1.5m AluCable costs £19.95, which is in the middle of Apple’s 1m cable (£15) and its 2m connector (£25) price range.
At £16.95 the AluCable Mini works out a lot more expensive per metre, but you’re paying for the convenience and portability of the connector cable rather than by the centimetre.
The AluCable twist costs £19.95, which works out cheaper than the longer-length Apple Lightning cable, with greater flexibility against Apple’s cable clutter.
Worse than that at the moment you have to buy direct from Just Mobile, and there's a hefty €12.50 shipping fee that makes each ridiculously expensive. Just Mobile tells us that they'll soon be available at the Apple Store for the above prices. Until then they remain expensive.
Although not dirt cheap like the ones you’ll find on eBay the Just Mobile AluCable range is certified as compatible and safe, and has a look quite different to Apple’s all-white Lightning cables.