Apple opening up USB-C to Lightning cables to MFi partners

It appears that Apple is planning to open up the manufacturing of USB-C to Lightning cables as part of its Made for iPhone (MFi) program, according to a new report from Japanese site Mac Otakara. According to sources cited in the report, Apple recently informed MFi partners about the upcoming change, although no details were provided on when such cables may begin to appear. Up until now, the only authorized Lightning to USB-C cable — necessary for fast-charging the iPad Pro and 2017 iPhone models — has been Apple’s own USB-C to Lightning Cable. Apple recently reduced the price of its cable, amid reports that this year’s iPhone models will include 18-watt USB-C chargers, although it seems likely that the price drop may have also been part of Apple’s longer-term plans to open up the manufacture of the USB-C cables to third-party MFi partners, as has been the case with standard USB-A to Lightning cables since the advent of the Lightning standard.

Of course, the bundling of USB-C chargers would also open up significant demand for third-party USB-C Lightning cables, since the USB-A versions would no longer be compatible with the charger included with the 2018 iPhones, and allowing MFi partners to participate may be one way of keeping up with the demand for the cables, particularly with recent rumours suggesting that the chargers themselves will initially only be available in the box with the new iPhones. A report earlier this year also suggested that Apple would not be opening up the USB-C to Lightning specs until at least 2019, so it’s unclear whether this latest news suggests that Apple’s timeline has been moved up, or if the company is simply in the very preliminary stages — the report suggests that the first cables will not appear until mid-2019. According to Mac Otakara, manufacturers will need to use a new standard Apple “C94” Lightning connector, which will allow a maximum of 15 watts of charging with a standard USB-C power adapter, and 18 watts with a certified USB-PD power adapter.

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