Apple has replaced its decade-old 30-pin connector with a brand new 9-pin Lightning plug in its latest round of iPhone and iPod refreshes last month. Per teardown, the new Lightning I/O has also brought with it an authentication chip that along with tightened ‘MFi’ terms is meant to prevent third parties from making unapproved accessories.

Adding insult to injury, it’s also been suggested that cracked chips which bypass its authentication functions are now available. Today, BGR posted images of several claimed third party authentication chips for Lightning USB cables.

Of course, the chips are not officially approved by Apple and present an ample opportunity for shady Chinese firms to manufacture Lightning cables, adapters and other accessories that should easily work with Lightning-equipped iOS devices while costing far less than Apple’s overpriced alternatives….

BGR editor Jonathan S. Geller notes has more on this:

We are told there are now multiple versions of these unofficial Lightning authentication chips and connectors floating around China, and while that may be good news for those looking for lower priced accessories and chargers, it doesn’t look good for Apple’s MFI partners who are licensing the technology and making legitimate accessories.

Apple is expected early next month to lay down the law to its developers on producing Lightning connectors. One thing is certain: Lightning pins will be strictly controlled by Apple and only approved developers will have access to them, with production quantities of the pin once their product is determined to have met its standards and specifications.

It’s remarkable that a company of Apple’s size is willing to go the distance to keep unauthorized makers from selling Lightning-branded warez. On the other hand, anything can be hacked and bypassed and you’d think these companies would have learned their lesson by now.

I’m all for vertical integration and miniaturization, even if it means leaving behind legacy technologies like the old 30-pin connector. But I’m also all for transparency and hate it when huge corporations take advantage of consumers.

I’m not saying Apple originally designed Lightning I/O to screw folks and make us all pay a premium on Lightning to 30-pin cables, but it’s hard to justify spending forty bucks on a friggin’ cable – even with a chip inside it.

In the greater scheme of things, Apple has indirectly screwed MFI partners because they paid the licensing fees to make legit accessories and now witness important authentication technologies that protect the Lightning ecosystem being cracked.

What’s your take?

Is Lightning going to prove a huge blunder on Apple’s part?

  • Lightning cables cost $19 first of all. 2nd of all, you knew this would happen eventually. I don’t see how Apple can stop something like this considering how shady the Chinese producers can be with regards to these accessories.

    • ReanimationXP

      The point is, why do they do it in the first place? It adds no consumer benefit what-so-ever to have “officially licensed” accessories, and added extra cost in research and materials to add that protection.

      It’s akin to DRM, except instead of protecting a developer from being stolen from, it’s only protecting Apple’s high accessory margins. Apple just wants to milk consumers and third parties via royalties. Somehow it’s become ok for accessories to be ridiculously high margin products despite everyone knowing they cost next to nothing to make.

      It’s why we’ll never see USB on the damn phone either. I could understand some overhead due to research costs if this thing could be connected to Thunderbolt, but it doesn’t even support USB 3.0 (yet), so it literally brought next to nothing to the table for consumers besides being reversible.

  • 1337lolzorz

    Where can I get one of these shady 3rd party cables?

    • I’m sure they’ll be flooded on eBay soon. I just wouldn’t even risk it to save a couple bucks. Saving a couple bucks is jeopardizing your new iPhone and burning the house with a shortage from these knock offs … This time around, I’m going to my local Apple store for accessories end of story ! lol

      • been buying knock off accessories for quite some time and I have never had one catch on fire. And what makes you think an official branded product is prone to this sort of thing? Remember the iPhone 4 catching fire? I do. and that was the phone! Not the accessory. Apple is just out to make more $$$ on this accessory. I can’t believe these things have not hit the market yet!? I need an adapter, but I will not be paying $30 bucks for one.

      • 1337lolzorz

        Exactly! And those iPhones that catch on fire are more common than you think. I have a friend who works at an Apple warehouse and has confirmed that they get those every now and then.

      • Same here wont risk that with a battery cable but i would like to see some clones of them new earpods ! they sure wont break your phone.

  • Well they make all there products in china and with all the leaks coming out of coarse there’s a company coming out with lightening cables I been buying apple product n only apple there more reliable

  • Agreed. Lightning spec is mostly hype. It’s only useful purpose is smaller size. Apple really screwed up by not implementing USB 3 or Thunderbolt tech (read: speed) into Lightning, too.

    And, yeah. Even though Apple has long held premiums on accessories and cables, the lack of any real advantage over old cable makes it sting.

  • I’ve bought my fair share of Chinese third party cables and accessories, and believe me, when it comes to this, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. Flimsy and bad quality products that will last a fraction of the lifetime of first party cables/accessories.

    • ExRoot

      Humm. I had 2 cables that separated terribly. You have all seen that. They both got to the point where I had to put tape on them to keep from getting shocked. About a yar ago I marched into my local Appe store with the tape hanging off them. Asked to speak to a manager about them because they were original Apple cables. The manager came out and before I could start ranting he went to the back and gave me 2 new ones. Just like that. I barely got to say anything. I sure there are tens of thousands out there with those shotty cables. They knew there was a problem with them and that’s why he didn’t even hesitate.

      • Ever though about great customer service being brought forth in your presence? You know they lead the industry in this right?

  • Shady? Reverse engineering shady? You are shady.

  • Curtis

    I really just want a longer cord for my iPhone 5, i hate how short apple always makes them. So China…keep up the good work.

  • Steve

    I buy a china replica every day of the day…..crapple lol

  • all the fuss over cables. Let the people use whatever cable they want, as long as they are using your device, i see no issue. Greed

  • I have a real way of my expressing my option, no B.S. talk.APPLE is wanting to monopolize everything.They don’t give a fuck about the regular joe.They only care about making MONEY for them selfs and investors.I’ve said before and I’ll say it again MONEY is everything is this WORLD.if you argue this your a hypocrite or 2FACE BTCH.I’m DONE

  • bellidancer

    First, from what I’ve read, the Lightening connector has to have a chip to dynamically reassign lines to allow the plug to be inserted either way into the jack.
    Second, the $39 dollar cable is only required to connect pre-iPhone 5 equipment to the iPhone 5. This cable requires more than a chip to dynamically reassign lines to allow plugging it in in wither orientation, it has to translate analog signals into digital. The new standard is totally digital and only uses 8 lines. The old 30 pin connecter (30 PINS!!!) also had analog audio and video line. The 30 pin connector didn’t just use 8 lines, the new connectors has to convert and reassign data to different lines on the fly.
    All the speculation about using the chip to also authenticate is only speculation at this point. While I believe Apple does plan to have a form of authentication in play, I don’t think we know enough to know whether it will be a good thing or a bad thing. Since the cable can reassign lines, I assume a shoddy design can lead to fried iOS devices. If the licensing isn’t erroneous and Apple is only trying to ensure the quality of accessories meets their standards, I will applaud their program. If however, they use authenticate to prevent third party cables(as with the maglock connectors), then, I too, will vivify Apple.
    Apple is not trying to monopolize the market. If they were, they would care more about market share. Apple is concerned with making a profit. It is not Apple’s responsibility to make equipment everyone can afford. It is their responsibility to make a profit. Anything less would be a betrayal of their shareholders. That is a good thing. It motivates Apple to make products that consumers want, AND ARE WILLING TO PAY FOR! Obviously, they have been succeeding. If you aren’t will to pay Apple’s prices, coveting their products or whining about their prices, is a waste of energy.

    • ReanimationXP

      Stopped reading at Lightening.

  • If Apple wants to sell there accessories sell them for just a little more than they cost to make. Cables are generally very cheap but are pushed to 3 and 4 times there worth just for profit. If the knock offs are causing issues (which I haven’t seen happen between 6 iphones, 3 ipads) then dropping the price alone would save in warranty repairs / calls.

  • Suck shit Apple, you asked for it

    • Boy, we got some scholars in here don’t we..

  • lol apple is dumb… and eventually it will be their down fall

    • Their new cable is their downfall. That’s real good. Great research there buddy.

  • immovableobject

    The chip has nothing to do with the fact that the plug can be inserted either way. If you look into the iPhone 5’s socket you can see that, as with a USB plug, the connections make contact on one side only. It’s trivial for the cable’s contacts to be internally hardwired to handle this.

    I rather think that requiring cables to be “smart” was a design decision that allows the Lightning port to potentially do more than just act as a USB connection. Different cables can configure the port in a variety of ways Apple has yet to reveal. For example it might be possible for Apple to create a Lightning cable (containing a different chip) terminated in an HDMI connector.

    • I agree. There seems to more to this lightning cable than meets the eye. People are griping now, but I feel that Apple is “Cook”ing something up that will blow our minds with something ingenious that has to do with this cable.

  • maverickmax

    as long as ppl wanna buy …apple cant do anything…plus its not upto apple which type of wire i wanna use to charge my phone..

  • Why all the hate on Apple for wanting to make more money? last time I checked, profit was good for a company. It’s not their fault you’re too cheap or poor to buy their officially licensed products.

  • Have fun with those Chinese knock-offs shorting out and burning your house down. LOL.