Everyone knows that the Lightning cable that comes with a new iPhone is not very high quality. The white gets dirty really quickly and the material (TPE) tears with too much bending and coiling and just plain daily abuse.
The Lightning cable comes free with new iPhones and Apple sells it separately for $19. But did you know that Apple actually makes a better, much higher quality Lightning-to-USB-C cable?
It surprised me, too, when I unboxed my M1 iMac last year and found a braided, color-matching Lightning-to-USB-C cable for connecting the included Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Keyboard. This Lightning cable is easily the best Lightning cable that Apple makes and has ever made.
The Lightning cable is braided, which means the outside fabric layer protects the inside layer from tearing and fraying as easily. I have bent and curled and figured-eighted this special Lightning cable daily for a year now and it looks as new as it did when I got it last April. This Lightning cable is nice and as high quality as the fabric-covered cable you’d find on the HomePod and HomePod mini, the magnetic power cable that connects to the M1 iMac itself and the MagSafe USB-C cable on the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, and the Thunderbolt cable that comes with the Studio Display.
Just look at this wonderful, good Lightning cable:
So why the hell doesn’t Apple sell this Very Good Lightning cable? I have no idea. I can understand why it wouldn’t include a more durable cable with iPhones — so Apple can sell you a new one when yours breaks. But why not sell it separately then?
I reached out to Apple, but didn’t receive a reply. Apple really should though. People would buy the crap out of this like they did the official Apple polishing cloth.
I’m gonna use my M1 iMac’s Lightning cable forever and ever, but if you don’t own the svelte all-in-one desktop to get one, there are other ways to get it.
Official Apple devices that come with braided Lightning cables
The following Apple products come with a braided Lightning-to-USB-C cable:
- Magic Mouse ($79)
- Magic Trackpad ($129)
- Magic Keyboard ($99)
- Magic Keyboard with Numpad ($129)
- Magic Keyboard with Touch ID ($149)
- Black Magic Mouse ($99)
- Black Magic Trackpad ($149)
- Black Magic Keyboard ($199)
So actually, the cheapest way to get an awesome braided keyboard is to get a Magic Mouse, which comes with a white braided Lightning-to-USB-C cable. The next cheapest would be the Black Magic Mouse, which commands an extra $20 premium for a black braided Lightning cable; or get a Magic Keyboard.
High-quality Lightning cables
There also are third-party alternatives. They are not made by Apple. But they work and are just as (if not more) durable. I can vouch for both of the below ones, one from Anker, Amazon Basics, and Mophie. Anker stuff is just really well made and really affordable.
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These two high-quality, braided Lightning cables are so cheap because the other end is USB-A, which means they can’t fast charge iPhones even with a high-powered charger; they also can’t connect to modern MacBooks released in the past seven years without a dongle. To fast charge supported iPhones, you’ll need a Lightning to USB-C cable. Those are affordable from reputable brands like Anker, too. Just not as cheap. Here’s the one I like — the cable isn’t braided but the wire covering is stronger.
Anker also sells a Powerline III version of the above cable that we recommended in our cord decluttering guide. Anker advertises it “with a 25,000-bend lifespan.” The Powerline II only supports up to 12,000 bends.
Mophie makes a great one, too. It’s pricier, but the cable is thick AF.
Seriously, Apple, sell your awesome Lightning-to-USB-C cables separately. I demand it. We demand it. This thing rules!