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.
For users who need extra length, perhaps for charging an iPad, iPhone, or iPod from an outlet across the room, Griffin’s cable is the longest we’ve yet come across. Both the cable and plastic plug housings are matte black. Although not as narrow as Apple’s, the sheath around the Lightning plug tapers to one of the smallest sizes we’ve seen, ensuring greater case compatibility. By comparison with most Lightning cables, Griffin’s cable uses thicker gauge wire to guarantee that charging and syncing functionality is maintained across its entire length. The wire isn’t as thick as it was in Griffin’s earlier XL 3 Meter USB to Dock Cable, but it works properly; an iPad mini recharged just as quickly as expected, even with the extended cable distance.
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: Griffin Technology
Compatible: iPad (4th-Gen), iPad mini, iPhone 5, iPod nano 7G, iPod touch 5G