Cheaper MFi-certified Lightning to USB-C cables are coming early next year

Apple is currently the only seller of certified Lightning to USB-C cables, but more affordable options from third-party accessory makers are reportedly coming early in 2019.

MacRumors has learned that Apple last week told licensees in its “Made for iOS” (MFi) accessory certification initiative that they are now permitted to manufacture, market and sell Lightning to USB-C cables for both charging and syncing.

“Apple is selling the new Lightning connector to eligible hardware manufacturers for $2.88 per unit, and it is estimated to ship in six weeks, according to documentation shared with MacRumors by Hong Kong website ChargerLab,” the story reads.

Japanese blog Mac Otakara reported in September that third-party Lightning to USB-C cables would require a Lightning connector with part number C94, now available to MFi members (MFI certification requires vendors to source their Lightning connectors from Apple itself).

The C94 connector is necessary because it features support for the USB Power Delivery protocol for providing dynamic wattage by switching to higher voltage as needed (USB-C chargers that work with this protocol typically support multiple output configurations).

ROUNDUP: Best USB-C power packs that support Power Delivery

Mac Otakara separately reported that Apple will require any MFi-licensed third-party USB-C power adapters to pass USB-C Authentication certification to ensure they meet the Power Delivery specification and are free of maliciously embedded code.

The old Lightning connectors don’t support Power Delivery.

Apple’s USB and USB-C chargers

As per Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, that’s why Apple’s own 1-meter and 2-meter cables currently stand as the only certified options until third-party MFi cables arrive.

Power Delivery support in the C94 connector will let third-party cables support:

  • 15W charging with a standard power adapter
  • 18W fast charging with a Power Delivery power adapter

The 18-watt USB-C charger that ships with 2018 iPad Pro supports fast charging via Power Delivery (fast charge support requires an 18W-plus power adapter).

In others words, you can fast charge your iPhone (the battery goes from dead to 50 percent in 30 minutes) by connecting it to the 2018 iPad Pro’s USB-C power brick using Apple’s own Lightning to USB-C cable or one of the upcoming certified cables from other makers.

TUTORIAL: How to fast charge your iPhone

Eve though you could find no-name USB-C to Lightning cables on Amazon right now, keep in mind that they aren’t MFI-certified and I don’t think any of them support more than 10 watts of power for charging. You are wholeheartedly recommended to avoid uncertified (non-MFi) cables in terms of both reliability and safety because they don’t support Power Delivery, are not MFI-certified and are limited to 12 watts (not enough for fast-charge support).

If you’d like to charge your Lightning devices from USB-C chargers and MacBooks but don’t want to pay Apple $19 for a certified 1-meter cable (or, dare I say, $29 for twice the length), simply have patience as cheaper, licensed alternatives from third-party vendors are coming in a matter of few weeks from now.

Some of the branded makers enrolled in the MFi program include the likes of Anker, Aukey, Belkin and Incipio so these companies should soon be out with their own certified cables.

As MacRumors posits, these firms should have the parts necessary to create certified cables by mid-January, meaning they could be available to purchase by February or March 2019.

What has your experience with non-MFi Lightning to USB-C cables been so far?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.