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Stuff About Apple

Anker vs Apple… on Their Lightning Cables

Sometimes build quality comes before aesthetics

My old Lightning to USB-A cable broke — it would start charging, then stop a second later. That would repeat over and over again and so would the “charging” sound. “Buzz!” “Buzz!” It got irritating, but I was more worried about my phone’s battery — it’s already kind of old and that rapid charging *disconnecting* cycle didn’t help.

It also developed a crack 😢

So I ordered a 3-pack of Lightning cables from Anker on Amazon and it came a few days later. In the box were the three cables (wrapped in Velcro) and a Happy/Not Happy customer service guide.

I was eager to check out the Anker cable and see how it compared to my old one — I examined both in detail, taking measurements and looking closely at its design and build. Here’s my review.

Basic Specs ▾

╔═════════════════╦══════════════════╦═══════════════════╗
║ ║ Anker Powerline ║ Apple ║
╠═════════════════╬══════════════════╩═══════════════════╣
║ Length ║ 3 ft ║
╠═════════════════╬══════════════════════════════════════╣
║ Color ║ White ║
╠═════════════════╬══════════════════════════════════════╣
║ Type ║ USB-A to Lightning ║
╠═════════════════╬══════════════════╦═══════════════════╣
║ Price ║ $20 for 3 ║ Came with iPhone ║
╠═════════════════╬══════════════════╬═══════════════════╣
║ Cable Material ║ Aramid fiber ║ Unknown ║
╚═════════════════╩══════════════════╩═══════════════════╝

The USB end ▾

At first glance, you can tell that the Anker cable is much more rugged. There aren’t any sharp edges connecting the cable to the protruding USB end, unlike Apple’s.

In my opinion, Apple’s blocky design looks better as it’s more minimal. You can tell it’s a quality product just by looking at it —well, at least this end of the cable— and it hasn’t broken for me yet. Anker’s cable looks fine too, but it’s larger and more stiff — which is better in build quality, but doesn’t match the premium feel of Apple’s.

Usually this part of the cable doesn’t come under too much stress, unless you’re that person who yanks it out of the wall by grabbing the cable itself (sometimes I do that… and sometimes I trip 😫).

The other end ▾

This is where build quality matters more than design. Again, Apple’s cable looks sleeker — the Anker cable actually has some unremoved plastic fuzz on the side — but that doesn’t really matter, as this is the part that gets the most strain and needs to be really strong.

The rugged build of Anker’s cable shines here. You can see how it’s one connected piece instead of two sections…

… and it seems like it’s one solid (but resilient) piece of rubbery plastic — I doubt it will ever crack.

Apple’s cable isn’t solid at all and is just a hard shell wrapping some circuitry. I grabbed another one lying around the house — it’s cracked, too. And the gray padding is falling loose and peeling off 😕.

However, Apple’s sleeker cable could fit through the charging hole better in some cases (as in phone cases… sorry for the pun 😩). Here’s the dimensions:

╔════════╦═════════════════╦════════╗
║ ║ Anker Powerline ║ Apple ║
╠════════╬═════════════════╬════════╣
║ Length ║ 9.8 mm ║ 7.6 mm ║
╠════════╬═════════════════╬════════╣
║ Height ║ 5.5 ║ 5.0 ║
╚════════╩═════════════════╩════════╝

I think Anker’s is fine, though. The charging hole in my case is medium-sized and it fits perfectly with no resistance at all.

The cable itself ▾

You can easily tell that Anker’s cable is thicker, but I took some measurements to get the stats. Here’s the results:

╔══════════╦═════════════════╦════════╗
║ ║ Anker Powerline ║ Apple ║
╠══════════╬═════════════════╬════════╣
║ Diameter ║ 3.0 mm ║ 2.8 mm ║
╚══════════╩═════════════════╩════════╝

For me, Apple’s thinner cable has never snapped in half or frayed at all, but it’s entirely possible that it breaks from intense use.

However, I do have an old (but still functional) Apple cable that is frayed near the edge — where the cable connects to the head piece — that is now covered with duct tape. Here’s a photo:

But the cable diameter doesn’t matter much here, as it’s frayed right at the point where the cable and the plastic shell connect. I would bet on Anker’s larger connecting piece (I have no idea what it’s called 😅) to resist such damage.

Overall, I prefer Anker’s Lightning cable over Apple’s. Apple’s looks better, but in this case, durability is more important than design — and Anker’s looks good enough already! But apart from some signs of mass-production (like the plastic fuzz on the lightning end), the Anker cable looks ready to take on a lifetime (maybe not, but at least a really long time) of use.

And even though Apple’s cable is flimsy in some parts, it’s still impressive — I had been using it for over an year until it broke. It’s also a really good product.

I won’t throw away the old cable though — the Anker cable was wrapped in a strip of velcro and I’m reusing that strip to tie it up. It’ll live in the drawer of my desk from now on (not a great place to store it, but whatever 😅).

In a few months, I’ll give an update on Anker’s cable performed and if any issues came up.

And also Anker and Apple didn’t pay me to write this; I just had a lot of spare time to fill at home 🏠.

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