We’ve seen retractable Lightning cables before — Scosche was first with strikeLine Pro in the beginning of this year — but now Lenmar has an alternative, plainly called Retractable Charge & Sync Cable with Lightning Connector ($35*). While the two are the same at their core, they actually differ pretty significantly in execution. The appeal of this style of cable is that it offers the option of extra cable length in a compact package. Lenmar’s design misses on both counts, especially when compared to Scosche’s. [Editor’s Note: Following our review, the Cable’s price has been listed online as $30 by Lenmar, with prices varying slightly at other vendors.]
The black plastic housing at the center of Retractable Charge & Sync Cable has a diameter of about 1.75”, versus 1.25” for strikeLine Pro, so it’s noticeably larger. It squares off at the top and bottom so that there are corners, with the USB plug sticking out of the top left, and the Lightning plug on the bottom right. Each has hard plastic sheathing below the plugs themselves, with the material around the Lightning connector being small enough that it won’t cause issues with most cases. Pulling the ends stretches them apart, and then doing so again makes them retract.
The total length of the fully retracted unit is around 4”, which is half an inch shorter than Scosche’s cable. Fully extended, there’s a bigger difference: the rounded cable measures only 27” inches, which is 15” shorter than strikeLine Pro. For a higher price, we’d expect more cabling, not less. The actual build of the cable helps explain why the accessory is so large, though: rather than using a flat cable, Lenmar chose a round one that takes up more space.
We appreciate the idea of a retractable cable, but at $35, this one is way too expensive. For almost double the cost of one of Apple’s cables—and almost three times what Monoprice charges—you’re getting something that can become smaller, but it’s certainly not worth the higher price. There’s really no reason to choose this one over Scosche’s, which was itself somewhat pricey. So while Retractable Charge & Sync Cable with Lightning Connector is a fully functional and good enough-looking accessory, it merits a C+ rating: it’s just too large and expensive, without offering any sort of added benefits or even extra length.
Company and Price
Model: Retractable Charge & Sync Cable with Lightning Connector
Compatible: iPad (4th-Gen), iPad mini, iPhone 5, iPod nano 7G + iPod touch 5G