Apple Lightning connector crack opens the door to cheap accessories


October 22, 2012

Apple was gunning for a cash cow with its Lightning connector, but that may be in jeopardy

Apple was gunning for a cash cow with its Lightning connector, but that may be in jeopardy

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Apple's new Lightning connector has spawned great ire. Though its tiny port allows Apple to make much smaller and thinner devices, the company is using it to milk larger and thicker profits. If you bought an iPhone 5 or iPod touch 5G and want to use them with your old accessories, you'll have to pony up for a US$30 adapter. Adding fuel to that fire, Apple included an authentication chip in the Lightning cables, in an attempt to stamp out cheap third-party cables and accessories.

Apple customers may now have one less thing to worry about, as the Lightning authentication has reportedly been cracked. The Chinese makers of an iPhone 5 flashing dock told MacRumors that cracked authentication chips worked just as well in their device as OEM chips obtained from Apple's suppliers. Now BGR has uncovered further evidence of what it believes are the cracked chips.

Here come the knockoffs

Disgruntled iPhone 5 owners may be thrilled to see this soon (simulated image)

If these reports hold weight, then, before long, we may see cheap Lightning adapters, cables, and accessories. This will delight the owners of Lightning-enabled iOS devices, but it isn't likely to make Apple – or manufacturing members of its MFi program – happy. As Apple's bankroll is doing okay these days (more than $117 billion in cash), it's hard to see the company getting much sympathy from customers.

It will probably take some time for these accessories to hit the market, so we wouldn't recommend buying any supposed third-party Lightning cables just yet. When the cracked products do become available, it would be wise to thoroughly check reviews and feedback to make sure you're getting the real deal.

It's natural for Apple to want to maximize profits, but does the prospect of cheap accessories make you more comfortable buying Lightning-enabled devices like the iPhone 5, iPod touch 5G, and iPad Mini? Let us know in the comments.

Sources: BGR and MacRumors

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

When I bought my iPhone 5, the apple website said it came with a free lightning adaptor. They took my money - thus forming a contract in UK law. The iPhone didn't come with an adaptor - When I complained to Apple, they told me to return the item for a refund.

I will not buy any Apple Lightning product unless cheap 3rd party adaptors are available.


I was ignorant of the charging chip when i purchased my iPhone5, as Im sure many people will be. Only when trying to source additional leads (for work, bedroom etc) did I realise the cheap stunt pulled by Apple.

They really have committed PR suicide with this device - all for what, a few poxy $, and did they really believe that it wouldn't be 'cracked' within a matter of months?

I have held back from paying £30 (yes, we get charged closer to $40 in the UK for Apple leads!) and will await the Chinese imports - whereupon I'll buy 2 or 3 for the same price.


I Agree with DrDee above. I wont be buying any lightning product until I can get a cheaper adaptor.


The lightning adaptor is the ultimate F.U. towards apple consumers. It's also environmentally criminal. Think of all of those working devices that are now going to be thrown in the garbage. They could have easily improved the existing adaptor. I'm not normally a crank about these things, but apple, there's NO WAY I'm buying an iphone five or any other device with a lightning adaptor.


Someone should sue them. Every other company in Europe is obliged to make their chargers compatible to reduce environmental wastage - Apple should not be exempt, and should be made to pay for the wanton environmental vandalism this connector has created.


after just getting back from the china electronics fair, Yes china manufacturers have cracked it, But some have said that "if Apple does an update on the iphone 5 OS, the copy lightning adapter may No Longer Work"

Foneboy Cashaphone

Christopher... Why don't YOU sue them, instead of sitting back and complaining and waiting for someone else to do the work. Don't forget that Apple has used the same 30pin connector since the 3rd gen iPod some 9 or 10 years ago. Try and find a company that ran with the same connector for longer. I have thrown out countless non-Apple cables in the same time I have kept reusing my 30-pin connector.

It's time for change, just suck it up and spend your $30 to last you another 10 years.


Why does it have to be 30pins? How exactly does it differ from before? Can't I just open the cable and rip out the chip? Can't I just have a usb cable I plug into it?


Whilst I agree that Apple never miss an opportunity to charge excessively for adaptors and other accessories that should probably be included with the product, I think there is a fact about the 19-30 pin adaptor that may not be clear. Unlike the audio output from the 30 pin adaptor which is analogue and can therefore be plugged in to amplifiers, powered speakers, docks etc. the output of the new 19 pin adaptor is digital only. This is fine if you have a digital input on your dock, amp. etc. but most people don't. The 19-30 pin adaptor has a Digital to Analogue Converter (DAC) inside so you can connect it to existing analogue devices (docks etc.) the DAC in the adaptor is made by Wolfson Microelectronics (UK) who by general consent, particularly in the audiophile community, make the best sounding DACs. When and if 3rd part adaptors appear on the market, keep in mind they will probably have the kind of cheap and nasty-sounding DACs you get in PCs and cheap MP3 players. Caveat Emptor!


Why anyone should expect Apple to care about consumers is a bit of a mystery. They constantly introduce proprietary products and ignore industry standards. The connector that used to work is a perfect example. It should have been a USB cable all along, but Apple was more concerned with their profits and not the end user. They have taken over Microsoft's lead in annoying their customers. Every other phone or digital device manufacturer in the World uses standard USB, which replaced the standard serial and parallel connectors. Many folks have a dozen of these cables laying around and new ones are inexpensive and available at grocery stores!


I think that Apple has every right to charge as much as it wants to, and can get away with, since this is Apple's intellectual property. I look forward to Apple suing the pants off of the makers of these knock-off products since they are obviously trespassing on Apple's design just as Samsung did by making a rectangular smart-phone. Basically anyone stupid enough to hand over their money to a closed source, walled-garden, bunch of thieves like Apple deserves to be charged as much as possible for anything that Apple can figure out a way charge them for - after all, they're the one's who chose to bend over - right?

Benjamin Wade

I don't have an issue with this...i've owned apple products since the first iPod and have never had a cable fail...the rest of my accessories are the lightening connector just doesn't bother me. It seems kind of small to support the device were it in some sort of dock the way the 30 pin connector did...just in my perception at least. People sure hate change, innovation requires change, the lightning connector looks and feels fantastic when compared to the older style, and that it's reversible is genius. I certainly do understand that people have money invested in accessories that have the 30 pin are you handling the move to USB 3?? What about the change from coax to HDMI?? I recall all the grumbling in those days as well. In order for technology to move forward we're going to have to leave some behind.

John Parkes

It is ridiculous - and there is a BIG difference. I have no problem with a new connector. I like the new connector. But there is a lack of product. To get a cable I have to go to an Apple Store. No picking one up in the airport - no borrowing one from a friend. There is lack of choice - I have mini-USB to 30 pin adapters that I use to keep from having to carry multiple cables - yet there are no minu-USB to lightning adapters. The cables are short - so that it is tough to have plugged in and then charge on a nightstand when you are used to using 6 foot long cables.

The lack of Lightning cables and adapters has kept me from buying a new ipod, a 4th Gen iPad and an iPad mini - all of which I would normally buy as an early adopter - but I can't see buying it until more cables are released.

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