Other than aesthetics — think colors and materials — there’s never much innovation when it comes to Lightning cables. Sure, some are longer than others, or have coiled cables rather than straight ones, but almost always, there’s a USB plug on one end, a Lightning connector on the other, some length of cable in-between, and that’s it. ChargerLeash’s Charge & Sync Smart Lightning Cable ($35) adds one small feature that differentiates it from all the others out there: a small white plastic box right in the middle of the 38″-long cable.
Look past the box, and there’s nothing that stands out about this cable. That’s not a bad thing, there’s just not a lot that a cable can do. The plugs both rise out of glossy white plastic, and the sheath below the Lightning connector is small enough to be compatible with almost any case. Thankfully, it’s MFi-certified, which means there won’t be any compatibility issues with future iOS updates.
So why the box? It’s designed to prevent the cable from being left behind, and possibly, to serve as an anti-theft device. On one side, you’ll find a small light, which alternates between green and red, and a speaker. When the cable is plugged in to a power source, and the iDevice is connected, the light will show green and everything will work normally. Unplug the iPad, iPhone, or iPod, though, and within a few seconds, the light will turn red, and a shrill alarm will go off until you disconnect the cable from the USB port. We measured it at upwards of 98dB.
Despite ChargerLeash’s claims that if you connect to a 2.1A or 3.1A charger “you will be able to charge your Apple device at maximum speeds,” we found the recharge rate to be lacking. With an iPad Air connected to a full-speed power source, we only saw speeds up to 1.6A. Switching over to another Lightning cable on the same charger, the speeds shot up to the proper rate.
As a go-to cable for most people, Charge & Sync Smart Lightning Cable is not the right solution. First there’s the fact that it’s slower than not only Apple’s standard cables, but also even less expensive options. As for the alarm feature, it may come in handy for those who are often on the go, and happen to leave cables behind. That strikes us as a relatively small market though, and the alarm is far too annoying for use in any other scenario. ChargerLeash’s solution may be unique, but it earns our C rating. The idea isn’t as practical as it may seem on the surface, and it’s too slow, at too high a cost.
Company and Price
Compatible: All Lightning-Equipped iPads, iPhones, iPods