Why you can trust ZDNet
Our recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product through our links. This helps support our work but does not influence what we write about or the price you pay. Our editors thoroughly review and fact check every article. Our process

‘ZDNet Recommends’: What exactly does that mean?

ZDNet’s recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

How to tell if your iPhone Lightning charging cable is a fake

I have a weird hobby. It's buying Lightning cables from eBay that claim to be "Apple" or "Genuine."

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 are usually buried somewhere in the description; it will say "box not supplied."

So, what have I learnt from buying dozens of such cables?

They're fake.

ZDNet Recommends

The best MagSafe battery packs The best MagSafe battery packs Apple's MagSafe tech has been integrated into removable batteries. These are your top choices.

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, but 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 reputable third-party manufacturers.

Also: Don't waste your money on these Apple products: April 2022 edition

Counterfeit Apple Lightning cables fall into three categories:

  • Cheap cables are sold at an inflated price by slapping a fake 'Apple" brand onto them
  • Cheap cables that are just white with no fake branding
  • Poor quality, nasty 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 simply 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.

img-0935-2.jpg

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

How can you tell if a cable is counterfeit? Apple has you covered.

I find that the easiest way to tell a fake is to compare it to your original cable. The Lightning connector on fakes is usually rough and unfinished, the connector on the USB end will also look cheaper and nastier.

Apple products are built to tight tolerances, while the counterfeit products are not.

Counterfeit cables also feel lighter and thinner in the hand.

There are plenty of high-quality third-party cables out there, from AmazonAnker and Monoprice, 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-to-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 millions upon millions of random devices every year.

That Apple brand adds dollars -- sometimes tens of dollars -- to the price of something, making it a worthy target for those wanting to make a few dollars through counterfeiting.

Show Comments