There’s been a lot of talk about Apple’s new dock connector lately. The company replaced its decade-old 30-pin connector with a new 9-pin Lightning plug in its latest round of iPhone and iPod refreshes last month.

Apple has reportedly added an authentication chip to its new cable to keep third party companies from making unapproved accessories. So the smart folks over at Chipworks decided to take a closer look at it…

Sure enough, Chipworks discovered four chips embedded inside the Lightning cable. The site writes three of them off fairly quickly, as they only contain a couple of transistors. But the fourth, it says, is very interesting.

The fourth chip is made by TI (Texas Instruments), and carries a part number of BQ2025. And although TI doesn’t have any information on this component, Chipworks did some digging and uncovered this:

“However, TI does have published datasheets on the BQ2022, BQ2023, BQ2024, and BQ2026. These four chips are cataloged on TI’s website as battery fuel gauges, but they are not identical, with three of them being serial EPROMs and one of them being a battery monitor IC.

However, all four do have some common characteristics. All use a single wire SDQ interface (TI’s proprietary serial communications protocol), and all have some basic security features such as CRC generation. So, it is certainly likely that the BQ2025 does have some security implemented on it.”

The site says that it isn’t 100% sure that it’s a security device, but it’s fairly confident. It notes that it’s not very strong security  — it was reported last week that the authentication has already been cracked —  but it’s the first time they’ve ever seen anything like it in a cable.

For now though, at least, the security seems to be working. It’s been nearly a month since the iPhone 5 was released, and Lightning-compatible accessories are still virtually non-existent. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. Especially with the holidays coming up.

  • disqusted

    New dock cable + security measures to ensure Apple has no competition in manufacturing = greed; the necessity to buy Apple’s converter, as well as cables = monopoly. Usually frowned upon. Both greed and monopolies, especially the clear intent to establish one by 1- suddenly making proprietary hardware connections (not new) the original 30 pin is exactly that 2- taking active measures to prevent the duplication of proprietary connector by competition 3- I already said all this. This is why I gladly stayed far as I could from buying into this scam. And it is… intentional. They will give you all kinds of excuses why the old dock connector HAD to be replaced (it needed to be thinner). The old one was pretty damn thin already. So they admit their intention for “authentication”, I would maybe give them the benefit of the doubt if I didn’t know this company as I’ve witnessed over the years. Anything for a buck. Sure you don’t HAVE to buy it. But it is cool gear; it’s just a shame that we have to wonder what shadows lurk behind each and every intentioned move they make.

  • archions

    i have purchased third party cables for the iphone and ipad and had nothing but troubles with them. Good for Apple for protecting their product and eliminating cheap imitations.

    • Vijay Singh

      Its not about cheap imitations, Its about killing the competition and having monopoly which is in any case very bad for consumers.

  • Not neccesarily no third party people having made a lightning connector ‘work’, recently saw a few people at kickstarter who succeeded.

  • I like the new connector it’s far better than the clunky old one.

  • There are 3rd party iPhone 5 docks on eBay. You can’t stop the Chinese from duplicating; it’s what they are good at.

  • This is bugging the hell out of me. I have all genuine apple parts from iP3G, iP4, iP5 & iPod nano. When I plug the iP5 cable into some of the power supplies I get an incompatable error message & nil charging. Grrr