I have a weird hobby. I like to trawl eBay for iPhone charging cables that claim to be "Apple" or "Genuine." There are a lot of them. Pictures show the proper Apple packaging but usually buried somewhere in the description it will say "box not supplied."
So, what have I learnt from buying dozens of such cables?
Spoilers: They're fake.
Before I go any further, I need to make something clear -- people selling counterfeit cables do not benefit from my purchase. Not only do I report counterfeits to eBay, I also work with UK trading standards to have counterfeit cables and chargers removed from sale.
Another point worth making is that I don't have a problem with third-party cables. In fact, I'm a big believer in buying cables from companies such as Anker and Amazon.
Counterfeit Apple Lightning cables fall into three categories:
- Cheap cables sold at inflated price by slapping the 'Apple" brand into them
- Cheap cables
- Poor quality cables
Having bought dozens of fake Apple Lightning cables, I've found that while many are just cheap cables that are actually quite functional, there are some that are awful. Some simple don't work, some stop working after a few days or weeks (usually from weakness at the connector end), and some are so bad that they can damage your iPhone.
How can you tell if a cable is counterfeit? Apple has you covered.
There are plenty of high-quality third-party cables out there, from Amazon and Anker, to Monoprice and Nomad, so rather than buy something cheap and potentially damaging, go look for something that's decent from a reputable manufacturer and that comes with a warranty.
The same isn't as applicable for microUSB and USB-C cables that are used for charging Android devices and, well, almost everything else. Yes, I've come across cheap ones where the ends fall off or the cable stops working after a bit of rough handling, but on the whole the quality of these cables at the low-price end of the spectrum is far higher, in part because there's a massive industry in making cheap charging cables to ship with devices.
Also, I haven't come across sellers pushing counterfeit USB-C-to-Lightning cables. I'll have to look harder!