Apple's Lightning Connector Has Knock-Off Preventing Chip

(Image credit: Apple Insider / Double Helix Cables)

Along with the new iPhone and iPods unveiled earlier this month, Apple released its next-generation sync cables, the "lightning" connectors. Ditching the company's dated 30-pin model, Apple made the switch to a much smaller and more convenient connector. The problem is that users would now have to purchase a whole new collection of iPhone accessories. Even worse, it looks like budget third party providers won't be an option this time around.

According to a report from AppleInsider, Apple's new connector features an authentication chip that may indicate many of the cheap, third party cables on sale won't function properly. The folks over at Double Helix Cables took apart one of Apple's new connectors, identifying the inclusion of what appears to be an authentication chip.

"There is basically no way those are functional cables," the company explained. "You can't just build a Lightning cable by making something with the same shape and connectivity, and my teardown proves that. The chip has to be there, and it is directly in the signal path of the V+ wire."

The new information means iPhone 5 customers should be wary when purchasing budget-friendly third-party connectors. The authenticator chip means Apple is getting serious about controlling its accessory market. When the 30-pin connector first came out, Apple offered replacements for a hefty cost, something that was quickly diminished when third parties created cables for as little as a dollar a piece. Now it looks like our only choice for extra cables will be to pay the Apple premium or a similar cost from authorized accessory makers.

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Tuan Mai
Tuan Mai is a Los Angeles based writer and marketing manager working within the PC Hardware industry. He has written for Tom's Guide since 2010, with a special interest in the weird and quirky.
  • game junky
    Oh Apple, can't you be a participator - your loyal following will still give you a hefty allotment of their monthly check for your gadgets, can't you let the cheapskates like myself have our dignity back by not having to spend $19 on a frickin sync cable?

  • bllue
    So costumers are now literally forced shell $30 for this crap now? Talk about pure greed
  • cscott_it
    This isn't surprising really, Apple makes money hand over fist from their accessory sales. So in their eyes they are both increasing the quality on the market (until someone comes up with a workaround or if possible a chip that can spoof their authentication) and increase the rate of direct accessory purchases from Apple.

    I heard rumors about this happening (or something like it) but it looks like it was implemented.
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer
    I'm shocked, shocked, I say, that Apple would do something like this!

    ...said no one ever.
  • ELMO_2006
    Yeah, pretty pathetic by any standard. And by the looks of things, the new connector seems flimsy and of all things made of plastic!?
  • samkl
    Is there is no significant reason for the chip and it's there to keep 3rd party cables out. It's the leap towards "SONY-fication" of Apple. In 7-10 years, Apple will find itself where Sony is now. I am beginning to question if I should upgrade from 4s to 5 or ditch Apple ecosystem.
  • f0xnewz
    I'm not Apple Fan Boy, but I do like iPods, specifically the shuffe. Best sports/running audio player Iv ever owned. It wont fall off, the charge lasts for a good 8 hours of playback at high volume. However I lost my charger and tried to buy one off of Amazon, first a $3 one, then a $8 one, none of them worked. I ended up coughing up the money to apple and hey it worked.

    My brother gave me his old iPhone 3gs and I use it for video games on the couch. Same problem, again tried cheap 3rd party cords they all failed. Got a real one and it worked.

    I do think this is going a bit far, but since iv been burned in the past I can kinda see where they are coming from. It weeds out the bottom feeder rip off artists.
  • dark_knight33
    Isn't there an anti-competitve law someplace that this violates? Someone call the lawyers... I'm certain there is no shortage of people that want to sue apple.
  • syrious1
    $30 for a cable and chip that possibly cost them nearly $1 to manufacture I imagine.
  • ricardok
    crApple products now with chips that won't allow you using 3rd party stuff..

    Next: crApple docks, crApple car stereos... Anything that they can make so people can use their iPhones.
    Why? Cuz if there is this chip on a cable than you can imagine that you will not be able to use docks that don't have the same chip..