Hey, Apple, could you be a little more predatory on your customers?

See that trivial little cable to the right? That’s Apple’s proprietary iPhone charging cable, and that’s the widget that’s going to drive me right out of the Apple ecosystem.

We already pay a premium for Apple products, which is kind of OK because they are very good, reliable devices. On top of that, though, Apple also wants to lock us into their cables — power cables, peripheral cables, you name it — and our devices can detect whether the cable we use to plug in our phones is an Official Approved Apple™ cable, and if they aren’t, they’ll refuse to connect. And sometimes, when you most need it, your phone will decide that the cable you are using is no longer up to its standards.

My wife and I are now down to ONE (1) functioning cable between us. I had to take it away because I need my phone to connect to any university services (that’s another gripe I’ll put off to another day), and I can’t trust it not to fail on me. I have bought so god-damn many phone cables because I’ve got maybe an 80% success rate in seeing a new cable work at all. All I could do is throw a fistful of unlikely cables at my wife as I was going out to work and suggest she try them and see if one magically works now.

My new requirement for my next phone is that it have a basic USB-C charging connector. Goodbye Apple, hello Android.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    The European Union is pushing back, and demanding a common standard. When you are the world’s strongest free-trade region you are not afraid of billionaires.
    And with the diffuse leadership structure there is no way you can bribe every politician involved in the decision process.

  2. microraptor says

    I got stuck “upgrading” to an Apple last year thanks to the group plan I’m on. Despite being a 2020 model, it’s inferior in almost every way to the Galaxy S7 I had before that- even the battery life and reception are worse.

  3. says

    Apple started requiring approved cables literally because some schmuck bought a super-cheap knockoff charger from a no-name manufacturer in China and it caused a fire by delivering an amount of current well outside the supported range, and the EU court system held that for some reason Apple was the party responsible for this. (They didn’t sell the charger, they didn’t buy the charger, they didn’t approve the charger, they had nothing to do with its manufacture, they had published the supported power levels, but according to the EU they were nevertheless liable, but not the guy who made all the decisions or the company which actually did make the thing. The EU court system said, basically, “if you don’t want to be liable for third-party products, then you have to warn users if they try to use them” and so they added that in via a firmware upgrade. I remember it quite distinctly.) So, birgerjohansson, I’m not really impressed by the EU’s take on technology.

    (Particularly since their original choice for the enforced standard was micro-USB. Least-reliable connector available on the market, then and now. USB-C is much better — but I can’t help but notice that all the Windows/Android crowd hates it and, as usual, thinks it’s somehow Apple’s fault despite the USB spec being under the control and ownership of Intel, because Apple actually bothered to go with what Intel is recommending.)

  4. says

    Yes, they’re cheap. That’s why I have dozens of them, because I had to keep buying them to find ones that work. And yes, I always looked for that MFI-certified nonsense, which doesn’t seem to help.

    Also, a 1m long USB cable from Apple is $19, not $5.

  5. drickard says

    PZ: Hey, Apple, could you be a little more predatory on your customers?
    Apple: Challenge accepted.

  6. tinkerer says

    I’ve recently bought a Fairphone 4 with e-solutions OS installed on it (de-googled version of Android)


    It’s my first smart phone so I don’t have a direct comparison with the opposition but it seems fine for general use. You pay over the odds but in return you get repairability and a 5 year guarantee.

  7. Scott Petrovits says

    Welcome to the other side. You won’t regret it. I’ve been an Android user since I left Blackberry. It’s not like this sort of thing hasn’t been Apple’s SOP for decades.

    As for “all the Windows/Android crowd hat[ing]” the USB-C standard…[citation needed], because I’ve never had more success with a connector, and I can’t imagine anyone hating it. Can’t connect it backwards, faster charging, and (in my experience, at least) the cables last way longer than the Micro-USB ones ever did. And no giant corporation deciding who you can buy your accessories from.

  8. PaulBC says

    I could accept that the first few go-rounds with USB were form factor improvements, but there are way too many to be explained that way. I personally like the micro connectors (yes, probably just because I have only had Android phones). I don’t know if there is any legitimate reason for another design. Maybe they can’t handle the current? I also don’t see the need for USB-C ports on laptops that are big enough for the full-size connectors. It’s a pain to have to connect a hub just to plug in a flash drive.

  9. Bruce Fuentes says

    This is the main reason I went with MS based PC’s years ago and android for phones. They are all evil corps, but MS and Android do not lock you into overpriced proprietary accessories. I could always crack the case on a PC and not worry about voiding a warranty. I can buy any USB cable and be reasonably sure it will function with my phone or small tablet. Yes the surface does have a proprietary charging cable, but a USB does not provide the power it needs.
    Welcome to the dark side.

  10. Bruce Fuentes says

    #5 can you provide sources. I never heard any of this before. Not disputing your claim, but would like to see the info.

  11. Doc Bill says

    Ha, I just bought a replacement Lightning cable for my wife’s iPad!

    You probably know that a Lightning cable is not just a copper pass through. The little housing at the base of the connector has a bunch of chips that do signal processing, battery assessment and other stuff. From Tech Insights:

    “Part of the magic going on is that the Lightning connector features fewer direct connections than the prior generation connector. This means that Apple needs to apply some intelligence to what wire is sending and receiving the signals because there are fewer connections, but just as much data. Additionally, Apple has a number of patents related to authentication and security between devices. This has useful application by allowing “handshake” access to only certain function necessary for the functioning of a peripheral (such as a speaker docking station) without allowing access to the full functionality of the phone. It has additional application in smart battery applications. Both Apple and Texas Instruments (separately) have documented this security technology in a number of related patents (applied and issued) wherein they describe the passing of information from the host through to the accessory. ”

    You may remember the old days when you could get a USB expander hub, usually a 1-to-4 or 1-to-5. They would work with most devices but not something like an external CD player. That’s because extra control signals provided by the USB specification but not “needed” by most devices that could be plugged into a hub.

    Personally, I find it that a technically advanced “cable” like the Lightning is ONLY $19!

    (Anybody interested in trading SCSI war stories? Ah, I didn’t think so.)

  12. Bruce Fuentes says

    I am windows/android crowd and fairly knowledgeable on tech. I know no one in that crowd that hates USB-C. No one. It is a huge advancement. The only whiners are those mad that they need new cables, but once they use it the love it.

  13. PaulBC says

    Bruce Fuentes@18 Maybe I can tone down my criticism. Honestly, I have nothing against USB-C but I would still like to have at least one full-size USB port on my laptop (or rather my company’s laptop; I didn’t get to decide). I realize it would cut into margins, but the alternative is to take a hub with me everywhere.

  14. davidc1 says

    My Ipod refuses to charge in my car using a cheap cable,but if I play it at the same time it works ok,take that steve jobbies.
    @1Yeah,one of one the reasons that BOB murduck gave for backing britshit.

    “Allegedly….when asked why he was so anti Brussels he replied something along the lines of: “well, when I ring Number 10 I get what I want, but when I ring Brussels they show me no respect….”. (I’ve been told off before on Quora for misrepresenting other people’s statements. But it does sound like him doesn’t it?)”
    Yes it does.

    BOB,bag of bones.

  15. says

    I found a cable that works for my office! It’s a monstrous composite that splits an HDMI connector into HDMI + Lightning. Now let’s see how long it lasts.

  16. lotharloo says

    This kind of corporate greed is really unchecked. I have a wacom intous shit and got a cheap replacement pen for it that according to the official site is not compatible with it. The damned thing works in Linux but not in windows. I haven’t bothered to figure out why cuz fuck windows.

  17. says

    Those of us old enough to have soldering scars from our first computers remember the original-Macintosh floppy-disk fiasco. Not only was it a nonstandard size, but it was a nonstandard hard-coded format (the very first Macs proudly proclaimed “no formatting of floppy disks required!”… because there was no user-accessible option to format a floppy disk for the first couple versions of the OS). Between the two — and remember, this was during the days when one had to have a floppy disk with the operating system on it in the drive to start the machine up, as 5 megabyte Winchester disks were just becoming available as an expensive option — actually “operating” a Mac had problems very similar to cars that required Ethyl and couldn’t use unleaded gas. Like the Jaguar XE (V-12).

  18. says

    And the disks weren’t even floppy!
    I remember my first hard drive: 5 MB, $800. I had trouble imagining how I would ever fill that sucker up. It was going to last forever!

    Then just yesterday my movie editor started complaining that the 1tb drive on my Mac Mini was nearly full and I needed to kill some files.

  19. davidc1 says

    Ex-Apple Engineer Tells the Truth Behind iPhone 7

    Ex-Apple Engineer Tells the Truth Behind iPhone 7

  20. says


    The disk was floppy. It was in a thick, hard plastic case that was annoyingly difficult to “flip” quickly in the then-standard desktop quasi-Rolodex (remember Rolodex?) case, let alone grab quickly from among a bunch of papers… or, most annoyingly, send in a reusable secured-by-twine intraoffice envelope.

    Which wasn’t that much better than older/larger disks in the thinner, more-flexible-but-not-floppy sleeve-like-thingy that left a portion of the disk itself exposed to air, requiring another sleeve (those woven-fiber teflon-coated thingies bought in 100-packs that kept getting used as coffee-cup coasters, or their cheaper all-paper cousins that actually damaged the disk) that still managed a lower rate of damage in intraoffice mail.

    Thank you for this trip down amnesia lane…

  21. unclefrogy says

    I would also like some details about that problem with none apple cables delivering too much current.
    electrical current is a pull not a push. A device draws current ,amperes, from the source, it is why you can use a 5W night light on a 20 amp wall outlet.
    If the cable allowed more current to pass then the apple device could take suggests that their cable has some additional components in it that reduce the current. That would be a resistor in the cable, they could have just as easily put the resistor in the device to insure it would be safe. however putting it in their cable insured at a minimum the sale of their cable more often depending on how long they last and selling a replacement device when the customer voids the warranty (hahahha) and destroys re device.
    apple founded and led by some dude out of a van still operating with the same ethics.

  22. jack lecou says

    @The Vicar, 5:
    That bit of probable apocrypha appears to be missing its big blinking [citation needed] warning. Case names and docket numbers or it didn’t happen.

  23. says

    So, I spent the last two years marooned in Malaysia where geography and socioeconomic circumstances meant a high number of infections. However, the government listened to the experts and not only let them run the show but facilitated them doing it. Mask mandates, curfews and travel restrictions were all part of it and were generally followed. Idiots protesting these were quickly shut down. It was interesting to watch a political demonstration over another matter where the protesters all wore masks and observed social distancing and the police stood back and let it happen. A QR code check in app was operational within about 2 months. It is regularly tweaked and updated and it was used to manage vaccination appointments. Various NGQs and ordinary citizens volunteered their time and energy to help get food to quarantined families and man the vaccination rollout which proceeded quickly and efficiently. The end result was no covid in my household, (we took our own precautions with disinfecting and changing clothes after we went out and wiping down any packaging of deliveries). Even a relative who worked on the front line for the entire time wore his PPE and has remained covid free. Fast forward to my arrival in Australia where the experts are silenced and restrictions ignored and states are left to their own devices to manage it. I finally returned after getting fully vaccinated and tested and getting all the documents required to be allowed on the plane. When I arrived in Australia none of this was checked. For all they knew I could have been Covid Charlie bringing the latest variant in, (actually I suspect he was on the plane in the form of a passenger across the aisle who sent the entire trip coughing). I only had to sit at home for 24 hrs and test for covid after 3 days. I actually waited until this was the procedure because I didn’t want to spend thousands locked up in a covid hotel room where the inmates with few exceptions contracted covid via the inadequate ventilation and quarantine procedures. I waited 7 days and tested 3 days in and at the end of 7 days,thankfully both negative. Downloaded my state’s clunky covid app and spent some time trying to get it to work. Went to my first appointment at a large shopping centre. Lax check in and a lot of unmasked people or people wearing them under their chins. Sure enough 3 days later I got the notice that there was a covid infected person spreading the virus at the same time I was there.

  24. whheydt says

    Prior to the Pi4B, Raspberry Pi SBCs used micro-USB-B power connectors. Because of the increased power requirements, the Pi4B uses USB-C.
    The problems happened when people tried to use $60 Apple “smart” chargers to power a $35 single board computer. Turned out that the Pi didn’t have the right resistors to indicate “5v 3A only” so the fancy chargers would only provide 500mA. Non-E-marked cables and non-smart supplies worked fine. (The resistor issue got sorted out fairly quickly and if you buy a Pi4B now, a fancy power supply will work properly. Or you can just get the quite inexpensive official RPF PSU which has always worked without issues.)
    Since the official Pi4B PSUs weren’t available widely when the boards were first released, they also released a cheap ($1, as I recall) micro-USB-B to USB-C adapter…something that people might find useful to have a couple of around in case of need.

  25. brightmoon says

    I like my iPhone but I hate having to get cables every few weeks. But they usually work even the brand X’s

  26. wzrd1 says

    I just tossed a USB-C cable. The USB-C connector started to melt and the entire thing was fiendishly hot.
    Amazingly, it wasn’t one of my infamous Amazon cables, it was an original Samsung cable.

  27. Bad Bart says

    I don’t mind USB-C, but I prefer Lightning. I carry my phone and some other devices in my pants pocket/coat pocket/other not-especially clean environments, and the port fills with lint over time. It’s trivially easy to use a toothpick to gently clean out a Lightning connector where the port is just a hole, but it’s a real pain on USB-C devices where there port has a post in the middle.

    At least USB-C and Lightning are both symmetric…

  28. PaulBC says

    I’m probably wrong, but my gut reaction goes against symmetric plugs. I would prefer an asymmetric plug that you can’t break by forcing (which my kids did with USB micro when they were younger). But I sort of feel like I’m being lazy if I am not even putting the effort to make sure I’m plugging it in correctly.

  29. beholder says

    For charging purposes, I wish I had a decent pair of low-resistance 12-volt electrodes sticking out of my mobile device.

    In the meantime, though, I’ll settle for USB Type-C and the multitude of adapters in the 5-volt USB-ish family.

  30. JimB says

    Anybody looking for additional fast storage should look at m.2 drives in a USB-c enclosure. Very fast. Like the first time you copied a big file over USB3 and were blown away by how much faster it was than USB2. You get to experience that again.

    Search for “nvme usb3 enclosure” on newegg.com. When I got interested last year I bought 8 different ones. It doesn’t matter. They all work*. They are all fast. Most of them come with usb-c to usb-c and usb-c to usb-a cable. My current fave is the Rosewill for $29.99.

    Then $50 for a 500meg drive. Or $100 for a terabyte.

    I went with the terabyte.

    You can get both SATA and NVMe enclosures. Make sure you get the right type of drive. NVME is better!

    You can also find enclosures that support both SATA and NVMe. I have one of those for home. An NVMe drive for my storage. But I can pop that out and pop in a SATA drive and set up a boot drive for my Raspberry Pi. That’s way handy!

    And if anybody is a Win2Go fan. And you have one of those special (expensive) USB3 keys it would run on… Win2Go runs great off of all these enclosures. As long as your plugged into a USB3 port it’s hard to tell your working off a remote disk over USB.

    Well this went on longer than I expected. But both PZ and PaulBC mentioned something that made me think of the above. And I’ve been playing with these devices for about 6 months now and I am way stoked!

    *1 arrived DOA. newegg swapped it.

  31. paulparnell says

    Meh, Steve Jobs’ control freakery always scared me away from Apple products. I think they inject his DNA into all management at Apple. The commercial that put them on the map is deeply ironic. Even more ironic is Bill Gates was the alternative to Jobs. The only upside is that Microsoft only controlled the operating system and not the hardware.

  32. toughguy says


    For your Apple Lightning cables that stopped working: look at the tips and if the center Lightning pins are corroded black gently rub fiberglass on the pins. The black comes off and the cable will work again.

    Don’t believe me? Before and after using the fiberglass look at the pins with a 10x loupe (from Geology department) or use one of your microscopes (Biology department) and you’ll see the improvement.

    To prolong the cables in the future:

    Don’t touch the Lightning pins with clammy or moist fingers
    Plug in the lightning pins to your device first and the USB A port into your power source second


  33. whheydt says

    Just a minor general note… USB connectors generally are designed to have the cable fail, rather than the end device socket. It’s cheap to replace the cable, but can be rather expensive to have the device socket replaced. So while the device socket is rated for thousands to hundreds of thousands of insertion and removal cycles, the cable plug will be rated hundreds or a few thousand such cycles.

  34. PaulBC says

    whheydt@43 I am pretty sure one of my kids broke the USB socket (charger on a bluetooth speaker) by attempting to force it in upside down.

    As noted, my instinct says: make an asymmetric plug that fits exactly one way and cannot be forced, though apparently conventional wisdom is moving around to make one that puts up with careless human behavior. I’m not sure what that says about my personality. I also have a strong preference for strictness in programming APIs. I would rather write a validation that fails and tells you exactly why than some conversion code that does what you probably meant.

  35. mattandrews says

    @29 jack lecou

    @The Vicar, 5:
    That bit of probable apocrypha appears to be missing its big blinking [citation needed] warning. Case names and docket numbers or it didn’t happen.

    LOL, the person who tried to make the case that true liberals should celebrate and welcome a second Trump presidency is now making shit up about computers and tech.

    Stunned, I tells ya


  36. HidariMak says

    @34 wzrd1
    My apologies if you’ve already thought of this, but what you described sounds like what might happen if you plug an older USB-C cable into a device that uses the newer USB-C cable. Any chance that the Samsung cable you tried was for an older Samsung product that only supported the lower transfer speeds?

  37. wzrd1 says

    @HidariMak, nope. The Samsung cable came with the new phone, been in use for a year.
    Second cable failed last night, that one was smoldering heavily and took a few minutes of cooling before I could toss it outside to cool completely.
    Then, an Amazon cable failed today, that one looks to have been overheated where the smoldering cable crossed it. Gonna have to paranoia lay my replacements.
    USB-C has a higher current load in newer units, so if the ends start to fatigue like last night’s smoldering cable, they’ll fail much faster. It failed at the connector to the phone, right at the strain relief. The previous might’ve been due to a GM storm, as I had two computers crash around when the cable failed and a GM storm was recorded.
    Or it was just shit luck, taster’s choice. Still, one hell of a way to get awakened two nights in a row.

  38. bobwho says

    Hi, I think “technically” the LIghtening connector is also a standard too, but only Apple uses it. There are literally thousands of lightening cables out there (most don’t pay Apple a dime — i.e. are not ‘certified’ by Apple to be compatible). Just check Amazon and you’ll see.

    FWIW: I like the Anker brand, they make high quality basic cables and more durable braided cables too. I have a few scattered around the house.

    Apple uses lightening for charging iPhones, iPads, mice, keyboards, AirPods, etc. I doubt it’s going away anytime soon. The only places Apple typically uses USB-C are places that need high speed connections (ex. iPad PRO). BTW: if you think you’ll be happier on Google/Android phone, you should switch. Life’s too short. Everyone should have whatever tech or toys they like the most IMHO!

    PS: in reality, I think wireless charging is the future, but plugging in will always be faster.