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.
Of the three cables, Apple’s is going to be most familiar to anyone who’s previously used the company’s standard Lightning to USB Cable. It’s exactly the same in every way, except for its length. The cable gauge, sheathes around the plugs, and white coloration are all identical. We measured it at 20” from end to end, or just under half the length of the longer version.
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
Company: Apple Inc.
Model: Lightning to USB Cable (0.5 m)
Compatible: iPad (4th-Gen), iPad mini, iPhone 5, iPod nano 7G, iPod touch 5G