Since iPhone 5, iPhone has been replaced by Lightning interface, which is smaller and supports blind plugging compared to the previous 30pin interface.
At that time, Android devices or most other smart devices were still popular with the Micro-USB interface, which lagged behind Apple’s Lightning interface in both form and experience.
Image from: Sarah Kobos
Nearly a decade has passed, and Android has been upgraded to USB-C interface, while iPhone is still Lightning, and it must be said that the former has “come first” in terms of form, performance and experience.
Nine years after its birth, the Lightning interface has not changed. With the emergence of the new iPhone, especially after the recent switch to USB-C for the iPad Pro for scalability, the discussion on the abolition of the Lightning interface has become more and more heated.
The not-so-durable Lightning cable
Putting aside the expandability and charging performance, Lightning actually has a more widespread and deadly problem for us ordinary consumers, that is, Apple’s original Lightning cable is too easy to “crack” and break, durability is very worrying.
In fact, in addition to the Lightning cable for the iPhone, the same is true for the MagSafe cable on the older MacBook series.
In fact, for consumer electronics, 9 years is a long history, whether in Apple’s official forums or other consumer electronics enthusiasts’ groups, the “durability” of the Lightning cable has been discussed a lot. Not only are there tutorials on “how to use the Lightning cable properly”, but even reinforcing the Lightning cable has become a “traffic code”, with numerous videos on the subject and high traffic.
In one e-commerce store, there were close to 2,300 negative messages under the Apple Lightning cable product page, with a rating of just one star, and in these reviews, they had almost the same complaint, “The Lightning cable is not durable.
Cracked Lightning cable and corroded metal contacts. Image from: Macrumors
Tim Ventura, a consumer electronics enthusiast, has made corresponding statistics in his blog. He owns 3 iPhones, 2 iPads, and 2 iMacs, which mainly rely on Lightning cables to charge or transfer data between them. Each Lightning charging cable has a lifespan of about 3~6 months, either the skin is cracked or the internal wires are disconnected, making it impossible to work properly.
The reason for this, Tim believes, is that the Lightning cable is not properly reinforced at both ends, resulting in a lack of durability.
The blacked out Goldfinger. Image from: ZDNet
In addition to the cable’s lack of durability, the “gold finger” contacts on the Lightning cable are also more susceptible to corrosion and blackening. Also in the Apple support community, many users have encountered this problem. As a result, Apple responded that the contacts of the Lightning cable may corrode when exposed to moisture, so try to keep the Lightning plug and connector dry and avoid contact with liquid.
It is easy to crack, as well as the contacts tend to blacken, is the Lightning cable faces durability problems, but also led to a number of Lightning cable poor contact or can not work.
So “fragile”, just for business?
Durability has never been an advantage of iPhone and iPad cables,” is one of the most liked comments in the comments section when browsing through many Lightning cable-related reports.
Tim Ventura, who estimated the lifespan of Lightning cables with a small sample, was the first to look at the small business of accessories when looking for reasons why Lightning is so fragile.
He estimates that if there were 189 million iPhones in use in the U.S. and only one Lightning cable was replaced each year, that would generate roughly $3.5 billion in revenue for Apple, which is still a very impressive figure.
If you look at the world, Newzoo’s statistics show that 1.163 billion iPhones have been shipped in the last decade, of which roughly 728 million are still in service. Even if only a quarter of them are replaced with Lightning cables, that’s still a lot of money.
Lightning Data Cable Eco. Photo by Sarah Kobos
In fact, regardless of the durability of Lightning cables, the idea of “Apple sticking to the Lightning connector” is also present in many people’s minds, because after all, the accessory market has a large volume and profit margin, and not only Apple itself, but also many third-party accessory manufacturers are active in the market.
Image from: Slashgear
From the perspective of USB-C to compare, Lightning interface is obviously a bit outdated, it does not support high power charging power and the transmission speed is limited to USB 2.0. But with Apple’s philosophy, any cable and interface may just be “transition”, so Apple did not go after the birth of iPhone 5 Lightning interface Therefore, after the iPhone 5 Lightning interface was created, Apple did not take the initiative to modify and update the new interface of the iPhone, but rather waited for the complete wireless and non-porous.
The resulting business of accessories may not be what Apple intended.
About the design, about the environment
Compared to the old 30-pin interface, the new Lightning has made design changes, both in terms of aesthetics and materials. And it is these two changes that have led to frequent problems with the “new” Lightning cable.
The old 30pin cable has reinforcement. Image from: Apple Explained
The 30-pin connector, previously used frequently on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s, had some reinforcement at the cable and connectors, so it was rare to see “extensive” discussion of cable durability before 2006.
With the new Lightning cable, Apple’s design team replaced it with a thinner plastic sleeve for aesthetics and an overall cleaner look. However, Apple’s development team found that such a change caused a higher failure rate, but in the end it didn’t stop the trend toward better design.
Image from: Apple Explained
In addition, the replacement of materials is also Apple’s “environmental protection” concept, when Steve Jobs proposed the A Greener Apple (Green Apple) project, hoping to remove harmful substances from all Apple products. The PVC material previously used in charging cables is one of the harmful substances, and with its presence, the cables will be harder and more durable. With the implementation of this concept, the Lightning cable has become softer and less durable.
Image from: Apple Explained
As for the shortcomings of the Lightning charging head turning black and corroding easily, it can actually be summarized in the “design”. Compared to USB-C, the contacts of the Lightning cable are exposed and are more susceptible to erosion by sweat, moisture and other liquids, which can lead to blackening and corrosion.
Apple is already addressing the problems that continue to emerge with the original Lightning cable.
First of all, regarding the corrosion of the metal contacts, Apple has upgraded the traditional gold plating process to a rhodium-ruthenium process, changing the appearance from the previous “gold finger” to “silver finger” and the specific model number from C91 to C94. The rhodium-ruthenium process is more inert than the traditional gold plating process, thus improving the corrosion resistance of the Lightning cable connector.
Left: C94, Right: C91
It is worth noting that although the color of the connector is silver, it costs more than the traditional gold plating process. Rhodium and ruthenium, both of which are rare metal elements and belong to the platinum group of metals, are highly resistant to corrosion and almost difficult to react with acids.
In addition, Apple’s new iMac has given an answer to the problem of cables cracking easily by using “braided cables” across the board.
In terms of details, it is simpler than the traditional Lightning cable and more in line with Apple’s design department’s demand that there is no transition at the connector, but it still meets the demand for “durability.
The new original braided cable comes with the iMac and is likely to be extended to mass consumer products like the iPad and iPhone, and will probably come in the same color as the colorful iMac, along with the iPhone.
The new original Lightning cable is almost a balance of durability, design and environmental factors, and after nine years, Apple has finally solved the long-standing problem of the original Lightning cable, albeit belatedly.
The “return” of practicality
Starting with the all-USB-C MacBook Pro in 2016, Apple was ahead of the curve in terms of design. Looking back from now, the USB-C form factor does have good expandability, but along with this trend came a wave of USB-C docking station accessories.
Apple had enough appeal and confidence to lead the way in USB-C, and indeed over the next few years, the USB-C interface did become a feature of many Windows notebooks.
However, until now, we still have not been able to enter the USB-C era, many devices still need USB-A, HDMI and SD card slot, for the MacBook Pro interface is too single complaints also never stop.
There are rumors that the next-generation MacBook Pro is likely to increase the richness of its interfaces and reintroduce HDMI and SD card slots, thus reducing users’ reliance on USB-C docking stations and returning to “practicality.
The same may be true for changes to Lightning cables. Previously, Apple tends to be “wireless”, the focus is on how to complete the “wireless” design, but from the current MagSafe effect, as well as the difficulty of AirPower, Apple’s desired wireless may still have a long way to go, the future and the future. In the future, the iPhone may still be inseparable from the Lightning cable and interface, at this time to return to “practical”, perhaps in recent years in the product idea of revision, to practical first, rather than the design is dominant.
Title image from: pcmag
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/why-is-the-original-charging-cable-for-iphone-easily-broken/
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