Apple introduced the Lightning standard in September 2012, and several months into 2013, third-party Lightning accessory options are starting to grow in number. Today, we’re looking at three recently released Lightning cables, two of which are noteworthy for their length, while the other stands out because of its price. Included in this roundup are Amazon’s AmazonBasics USB A to Lightning Compatible Cable ($15), Apple’s Lightning to USB Cable (0.5 m) ($19), and Griffin’s 3-Meter USB to Lightning Cable ($30, aka 9.8-Foot Lightning Connector Cable). All three accomplish the same basic task, but one may be more valuable to you, depending on your needs.
Amazon’s Lightning cable is the least expensive we’ve yet received for review, coming in at $2 less than Griffin’s two-foot cable, and $4 less than either of Apple’s cables at full MSRP. As part of the AmazonBasics brand, this cable is designed to be a simple, no-frills alternative, and it ships in the company’s Frustration-Free Packaging; that is, a simple cardboard box without any extra packing materials. It’s just about an inch longer then Apple’s original Lightning to USB Cable, measuring 42.5” from end to end, despite Amazon’s claim that it’s only three feet long. The cord is covered in black rubber, while the USB and Lightning plugs extend through glossy black plastic housings. While the latter of the two isn’t the largest we’ve seen, it will impede compatibility with some cases that feature extremely small openings around the Lightning port. It’s worth noting that Apple’s one-meter cable sells for $17 on Amazon at the time of this review.
As we said in our review of the first batch of Lightning cables, it’s not so simple to rate cables compared to other accessories—extra cords are a mandatory cost for most users, even if there is nothing “great” about them. Although we can’t say we’re surprised to see Apple charging the exact same amount for a shorter cable, it strikes us as a poor value proposition. As such, the Lightning to USB Cable (0.5 m) earns a limited recommendation: it might be convenient to have less cord bunched up in certain circumstances, but is limiting otherwise. Amazon’s cable, on the other hand, is the best Lightning value we’ve yet covered. While it’s not fancy, it does the same basic job at a better price than Apple’s cable, has a tiny bit of extra length on its side, and merits a strong general recommendation. Finally, there’s Griffin’s super-long cable, which earns a general recommendation. While most people will never need such a long cord, the price makes sense in the current scale, and it will be useful to a certain group. The $30 asking price is reasonable given the quality of this Lightning cable, which while not cheap, is less expensive per foot than any of the competing Lightning to USB options we’ve tested.
Company and Price
Model: AmazonBasics USB A to Lightning Compatible Cable
Compatible: iPad (4th-Gen), iPad mini, iPhone 5, iPod nano 7G, iPod touch 5G