Our favorite Lightning cable for most people
If you want a Lightning cable that is faster, more durable and cheaper than the original Apple Lightning cable, this Anker Lightning to USB Cable 3ft is a great choice. It is made of Aramid fibers and PVC, which can prevent the cable from wear and tear. It is not only more durable than the original Apple Lightning cable but also charges faster. Most importantly, it is only one third of the price of the original Apple cable.
Lightning cables made of nylon are more durable than that made of PVC. However, most nylon cables on the market are thicker than the original Apple Lightning cable, making it inconvenient to organize and not portable. This OPSO Nylon Lightning Cable is not only portable but is also the thinnest in all the 3.3ft (1m) nylon cables that we tested. It is durable. Other nylon cables are inconvenient to organize because they sacrifice the flexibility for durability. It has satisfying charging speed which was up to 2.33 amps when connecting to an iPad mini 4. This result was near the fastest 2.4 amps charging speed in theory. It is worth noting that, the price is very budget friendly among the nylon Lightning cables.
Also, we have a more durable pick, which is Also Great——Benks Amber Nylon Braided Lightning Cable 3.9ft, and a softer pick with better built quality, which is Upgrade Pick —— Anker Nylon Lightning to USB Cable 3ft.
Our favorite short Lightning cable
If you’re looking for a short Lightning cable, this 0.8ft (0.25m) Lighting cable of Benks is just right for you. The length is perfect for connecting a power bank and a cell phone. It is made of high-strength nylon, and its 3.65mm body makes it the thickest in all the short cables we tested. To test its durability, we bent and pulled the part near the connector aggressively, and it did not break at all. It could reach up to 2.3 amps of current while charging an iPad mini 4, allowing you to charge your iOS devices at the maximum full speed.
Also, we have a shorter pick, which is Also Great——OPSO Nylon Braided Lightning to USB Cable 0.5ft.
Our favorite long Lightning cable
Long charging cables can also be useful. Especially when you want to use your iPhone or iPad while it’s charging but the nearest outlet is far away, a 6ft (1.8m) long Lightning cable would fit you the most. It is made of PVC material and it is 3.6mm thick, thicker than other normal cables, which makes it hard to break even with frequent bends and rubs. It also comes with a strap for better organization and being tangle-free. The charging speed doesn’t decrease because of the increase in length, and this satisfies one of our criteria of the Lightning cable charging speed.
This Benks charging cable is also a cable that allows you to use your phone while charging even the outlet is a good distance away. Compared to Anker Lightning to USB Cable 6ft, it has the same length, but its nylon material is more durable and anti-resistant than PVC. Although it is very long, the charging speed is not affected by the length at all. It could reach up to 2.32 amps when charging an iPad mini 4. It is 3.5mm thick and strong, so you don’t need to worry it will be broken because of frequent bends and rubs. It is easy to fold and will not be too loose, so it won’t take up much space. Most importantly, it is only 34.99 AED which is very reasonable.
Also, we have a softer and a more durable pick, which is Upgrade Pick——Anker Nylon Lightning to USB Cable 6ft.
Why you should get this
If you damage or lost your original Apple Lightning cables of iPhone or iPad, it is obvious that you need to get a new one. Or, your original Apple cable still works, but you want to buy a new Lightning cable that is faster, more durable, portable or longer.
Every iPhone or iPad we own comes with an original Apple Lightning cable, but this original cable is very thin. In everyday use, we bend it a lot at each neck. Over time, the Apple users will find that the area where the Lightning connector and the cable meet will be broken. In this situation, a sturdier Lightning cable than the original Apple’s cable would do you a great favor.
The original Lightning cable is easy to be broken and yellow.
You’ll find that some Lightning cables we recommend are made of nylon and some are made of PVC. The difference is that, normally speaking, a nylon cable is more durable than a PVC cable. Of course, nothing is perfect. Nylon is harder than PVC, so it is usually not as flexible as PVC.
PVC cable & Nylon cable
Our picks take different usage scenarios into account. When you are outside charging your cell phone with a power bank, a Lightning cable shorter than 1ft (0.3m) is very suitable for you. You can hold a phone and a power bank together stacking in your hand at the same time because such short cables don’t take too much space between devices as long cables did.
Beyond short cables, as we know, 3ft (0.9m) Lightning cables have higher demands than other lengths of cables because they are suitable to use in different places. If you need to bring a Lightning cable when you go out, a more flexible cable is what you need. It is easy for you to carry it around. If you use a Lightning cable just at home or in office, a more sturdy and durable one would be your choice. Or, if you’re away from the wall socket, a long enough and more durable cable is the best.
Of course, if you need to fast charge your devices, you need not only a charging cable, but also a charger that can fast charge your phone. If you also need to fast charge multiple devices simultaneously, you will need a useful multi-port USB charger.
Considering not everyone has a wall socket around to charge in 24 hours, if your phone is running out of battery while you’re outside, a reliable power bank will absolutely solve your problem. Or, if you’re in a car and your phone is out of juice, then you will need a car charger that supports fast charging.
How we pick and test
Pick out the best products
Like we do as usual, we looked for Lightning cables on famous E-commerce platforms where offer a large number of Lightning cables to choose, including Taobao, Jingdong, Amazon, etc. We gave up on the cables that were not MFi-certified and didn’t support Apple 2.4A fast charge. At last we narrowed down to 68 cables. After a round of discussions, we bought 21 of them to test.
These 21 cables we bought were divided into three categories based on their length, including Our favorite Lightning cable for most people, Our favorite short Lightning cable and Our favorite long Lightning cable. Tools we used for testing were an iPhone 7 Plus, an iPad mini 4 and the RAVPower 30W Dual USB Charger that supports Apple 2.4A fast charge.
All the Lightning cables we tested
A Lightning cable’s charging speed depends on the current it can pass through the Lightning cable. We tested the charging speed of every cable when connecting to an iPhone and iPad. In our testing, we found that the iPhone 7 Plus supports the maximum current of 2.1A, and iPad mini 4 supports up to 2.4A fast charge. In order to better show the maximum charging speed of a Lightning cable, we only used the test results from the iPad in the following. In our testing, we tried to keep the devices under low battery condition (under 10%) so to perfectly show the fastest charging speed. For marketing purpose, most manufacturers often publish the best results tested in the lab as product parameters. But in fact, during our testing, we found that there was no cable could get the rated charging speed. Because of the electric resistance, the current would lose during power transfer, resulting in a slower charging speed than it describes. This is normal. For example, the iPad supports the maximum current of 2.4 amps. However, due to electrical resistance and rounding, we usually see only 2.3 amps of it.
Testing charging speed
First of all, to test the charging speed, we connected the cables to the USB power monitor (POWER-Z), and then connected the POWER-Z to the RAVPower 30W Dual USB Charger. We wanted to confirm if the iPad mini 4 with less than 10% power was charging at full speed, and we could get the results of the charging speed through the USB power monitor (POWER-Z).
Second of all, to test the durability, we repeatedly bent the area where the connector and the body meet, and found out if it would damage or fray.
Then, to find out if the cables would fluff or not, we tested the nylon Lightning cables through long-term observation.
Finally, to verify if the cables were MFi-certified accessories authorized by Apple or not, we visited Apple’s official website. MFi-certified accessories meet the Apple performance standards. We won’t recommend Lightning cables with no MFi certification because they are not quality assured. They may not successfully charge your device, or they charge at a low speed. Or even worse, they may damage your device. Even if some of them work right now, but we’re not sure after your Apple device is upgraded. What we recommend is all MFi-certified. (You could also verify yourself visiting the Apple official website: https://mfi.apple.com/MFiWeb/getAPS.action)
Pop-up window may show up on your device using non-MFi certified Lightning cables.
Besides the charging speed, we also considered the durability, price, length, thickness, and quality of every Lightning cable. Based on our actual using experience, we finally picked the best Lightning cables.
A word on fast charging
As the pace of life grows faster, our charging time is becoming more fragmented than ever. Fast charging does not mean to shorten the overall charging time by exact minutes but to supplement your devices as much power as possible in a short time. You must have encountered the situation that you found yourself with a dying phone when about to go out. At that time, if your phone supports a specific fast-charging technology, then a charger with the same fast-charging protocol will replenish enough power to your phone in a short time.
Everything you need to know about fast charging
There are many fast-charging protocols on the market, including Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, QC4.0, Apple 2.1A/2.4A fast charging, Huawei SCP or FCP, OPPO VOOC, and the emerging USB Power Delivery.
For the direct current, Power (W) = Voltage (V) x Current (A). The charging speed actually depends on the output power, so the way to realize fast charging is either to boost the amperage or to vary the voltage so as to increase the amount of power going to a device. The fast-charging protocols that operate by increasing current require thicker charging cables to handle the heavy current, making it poorly compatible and cost relatively higher, so this kind of fast-charging technologies such as OPPO VOOC and Huawei SCP will have a lot of restrictions when using.
Therefore, we believed that the fast-charging standards dynamically varying the voltage will be more practical. However, one defect is that the conversion rate will drop down—about 10% of power will turn into heat energy. This effect is not a dealbreaker. That’s why many charging gears will get warm while charging.
Currently, the majority of devices on the market are iPhones and Android phones, so the Apple 2.1A/2.4A fast charge and QC3.0 fast charge are two versatile protocols with extensive application range.
Apple 2.4A fast charge
Apple seems to be very cautious in fast charging, but it has increased its iPhone 6’s charging speed from the initial 1A to 2.1A. And now the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, and most iPads are capable of 2.4A fast charging. Although Apple also boosts up the charging rate by increasing current, the standard charging cables are able to handle the load current of 3A. Thus, it does not need to upgrade the charging cables for fast charging.
Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
QC3.0 fast charging varies voltage output for optimized charging speeds at intervals of 5V⎓3A, 9V⎓2A, and 12V⎓1.5A, generally outputting at 18W or even faster. At the same time, QC3.0 is also compatible with QC2.0 fast charging and Huawei FCP, able to fill up Samsung S8+, Google Pixel2, MI 6, HTC U11 and other mainstream Android devices at a fast speed.
Power Delivery or PD is now rapidly developing to be one of the mainstream fast-charging technologies. It can supply higher power to your devices via USB-C charging cables and charging gears (chargers and power banks). Power Delivery Standard boosts the electric output of USB up to 100W. That means Power Delivery can not only fast charge smartphones and other mobile devices, but also juice up higher-wattage devices, such as tablets, game consoles, laptops and so on. If you want to know more details about Power Delivery, you can pop over to another guide — The Best Affordable USB-C PD Multiport Chargers.
Our favorite Lightning cable for most people
Our Pick: Anker Lightning to USB Cable 3ft
As far as we know, the length in 3ft (0.9m) cables are the most common and popular. People have to replace the original Apple cable with a new one because it is broken. Of course, I know that you would like a cable that is more durable and has faster charging speed. And it should perform better in every way than the original Apple Lightning cable. Also, it should be less expensive. This Anker Lightning to USB Cable 3ft will meet your needs.
Better than the original Apple Lightning cable?
Judging from the appearance, it is pretty much the same as most PVC cables on the market. But in fact, there is a big difference. According to most people’s feedbacks, the strain relief of the Apple cable is very easy to break after long-term usage. This Anker Lightning to USB Cable 3ft looks almost the same as the original Apple Lightning cable but its PVC body is thicker, so it is more durable. It has a flexible body, and it is easy to fold and will not be loose, making it convenient to organize.
Cheap but with powerful performance
According to the testing results, Anker Lightning to USB Cable 3ft was faster than the original Apple cable when charging iOS devices. We used it to charge the iPad mini 4 and iPhone 7 Plus. We got 2.35 amps and 2.01 amps, and both were at the maximum charging speed they supported. Plus, this Anker Lightning cable is just one third the price of the original Apple Lightning cable. We could say that it surpasses the original cable with a lower price.
Our Pick: OPSO Nylon Braided Lightning to USB Cable 3.3ft
If your PVC cable is frequently worn out or you hate it when it looks dirty, we recommend you use a nylon cable. Compared to PVC, nylon has greatly improved in tug performance and it doesn’t break easily as well as provides better dirt protection than PVC.
Nylon cables can also be flexible
This OPSO Nylon Braided Lightning to USB Cable 3.3ft is only 2.8mm in diameter and it is one of the most flexible models in all 3.3ft (0.9m) nylon cables. Although it is softer than other nylon cables, it is sturdy and tug-resistant. It is also easy to be coiled up without loosing, so it won’t take up much space as normal nylon cables do. You can take it with you everywhere because it is light and portable.
Compare with Anker’s popular nylon Lightning cable
We used it to charge an iPad mini 4 and it showed 2.33 amps. Compared to Anker Nylon Lightning to USB Cable 3ft, they have pretty much the same charging speed, but OPSO is only half the price of Anker.
Also Great: Benks Amber Nylon Braided Lightning Cable 3.9ft
Benks Amber Nylon Braided Lightning Cable 3.9ft is the thickest model in all the 3.9ft (1.2m) long cables we tested. It is 3.75mm in diameter. It is very durable and it won’t distort even with aggressive bending. Even after we repeatedly bent the area where is near the Lightning connector, it didn’t severely damage or distort. Although it would pill but not obvious. This happens to nylon fabric after a long term of use.
Same charging performance as Anker’s nylon cable
We used Benks cable to charge an iPad mini 4 and it showed 2.33 amps, which was pretty much the same as Anker cable. If you use it mostly indoors, it would be a great choice.
Upgrade pick: Anker Nylon Lightning to USB Cable 3ft
If you want a nylon Lightning cable that features the same durability as Benks’ nylon cable but more flexible and not too thick, and you can accept a higher price, this Anker Nylon Lightning to USB Cable 3ft is the best choice. It is the most flexible one in all the nylon cables we tested.
Anker Nylon Lightning to USB Cable 3ft strikes a balance between thickness and flexibility. It is a little thicker than OPSO Nylon Braided Lightning to USB Cable 3.3ft but softer. It comes with a Velcro strap, which makes it easier to organize as well as carry around.
Comparable charging performance to the original Apple Lightning cable
We used it to charge an iPad mini 4 and it showed 2.33 amps, which is similar to other picks we recommended. It already reached the maximum charging speed that the iOS devices support.
Our favorite short Lightning cable
Our Pick: Benks Amber Nylon Braided Lightning Cable 0.8ft
If you’re looking for a short enough Lightning cable that is perfect for just connecting your phone and a power bank stacking together, we recommend this only 0.25m (0.8ft) long Benks Amber Nylon Braided Lightning Cable 0.8ft cable.
Short nylon cables are more durable than TPE/PVC cables
You can use it to connect a cell phone and a charger very closely. Using a short cable, you would greatly bend it a lot. With that in mind, what we picked was nylon fabric so that even with aggressive bending it would not easily break like PVC cables.
In our testing, we bent and twisted this Benks nylon Lightning cable repeatedly, and we found that it didn’t pill or show any wrinkle, which means it is a very durable Lightning cable.
More suitable with a power bank
We also tested its charging speed. We used it to charge an iPad mini 4 and it could reach up to 2.34 amps and 2.01 amps of the iPhone 7 Plus. Both were at the maximum charging speed. When you use it to charge a cell phone with a power bank, the length is just perfect and it’s convenient to hold them in your hand while charging. It will not annoy you in that situation like a long cable.
Also Great: OPSO Nylon Braided Lightning to USB Cable 0.5ft
If you’re annoyed with a too-long cable all the time, this OPSO Nylon Braided Lightning to USB Cable 0.5ft is just right for you. Even if you simultaneously put your cell phone and a power bank in a pocket charging or hold them in hand, the length is very suitable. It is also made of nylon material but more soft and thinner than Benks Amber Nylon Braided Lightning Cable 0.8ft, allowing you to flexibly adjust the position of your power bank and cell phone as well as easy to carry around.
Not only durable but also charges fast
When we charge our phone with a power bank, the cable would be aggressively bent, so it requires strong durability of this cable. In our testing, we repeatedly twisted and bent this OPSO nylon Lightning cable, and we found that it didn’t obviously pill or show any wrinkle at each neck, which means it is very durable. We used it to charge an iPad mini 4 and it could reach up to 2.32 amps.
Our favorite long Lightning cable
Our Pick: Anker Lightning to USB Cable 6ft
This Anker 1.8m (6ft) Lightning cable is made of PVC material just like the Anker Lightning to USB Cable 3ft. The difference is that it is thicker than a 0.9m (3ft) cable and more durable.
Included strap for more convenient storage
It also comes with a strap which makes it easy to organize when not in use, and it won’t take up much space. During use, if you don’t need that long, you can fold part of the cables and use the strap for it. This makes it tangle-free.
Actually, the length doesn’t affect the charging speed
Although it increases in length, the charging speed doesn’t decrease. We used it to charge an iPad mini 4, and we got 2.33 amps, which was almost the same as Anker Lightning to USB Cable 3ft. It could reach the maximum charging speed of the iOS devices.
Our Pick: Benks Amber Nylon Braided Lightning Cable 6ft
A long cable is often being rubbed on the ground when in use. With that in mind, using a nylon cable would be more suitable.
It can withstand repeated bends
In order to increase the durability, its thickness is even thicker than 1.2m. We even bent the Lightning connector aggressively and it didn’t distort a bit. Compared to other nylon cables that have similar durability, it is more budget friendly.
You can easily charge your phone even you’re far away from the outlet.
The same charging speed as the original Apple Lightning Cable
We tested its charging speed and it reached up to 2.32 amps when connecting to an iPad mini 4, which was the maximum speed of iOS devices can support. Fly in the ointment, this cable doesn’t come with a strap, so it is inconvenient to organize.
Upgrade pick: Anker Nylon Lightning to USB Cable 6ft
Anker Nylon Lightning to USB Cable 6ft looks similar with Benks Amber Nylon Braided Lightning Cable 6ft we recommended above, and they are both high-quality 6ft (1.8m) nylon Lightning cables. Anker’s cable is more flexible than Benks’, but the flexibility is not an important element in choosing this length.
This Anker 6ft (1.8m) cable is thicker than its 3ft (0.9m) version. Because 6ft (1.8m) cables are easier to be rubbed on the ground than 3ft (0.9m) cables, a thickened body would make it more durable. This cable comes with a Velcro strap which makes it easy to organize and convenient to adjust the length.
You can easily charge your phone even you’re far away from the outlet.
Still delivers fast charging speed
We used it to charge an iPad mini 4 and we got 2.33 amps, which was almost the same as Anker 3ft (0.9m) Lightning cable. For a long cable, this charging speed is rare.
Product to avoid
We should avoid purchasing non-MFi-certified charging cables. MFi certification is a license shown that Apple Inc. has authorized accessory manufacturers to mark the MFi logo on their products. Actually, MFi is the abbreviation of “Made For iPhone,” “Made For iPod, ” ” Made For iPad.” Authorized accessory products must pass rigorous tests to have MFi certification. Therefore, MFi-certified accessories surpass those non-certified products no matter the design, quality, or compatibility. MFi-certified accessories will be more credible for consumers as they are quality assured.
Four typical examples listed below are given by Apple official about the issues that users may encounter after using “non-MFi certified products”:
① Your iOS device could become damaged.
② The cable might be easily damaged.
③ The connector end might fall off, get very hot, or might not fit properly into your device.
④ You might not be able to sync or charge your device.
Users who use the non-MFi-certified accessories and cause damage to the device, Apple official stated that they do not provide warranty service.
Therefore, we should avoid purchasing non-MFi-certified Lightning cables when considering buying new ones.
For PVC Lightning Cable
CRDC 3.3ft PVC Lightning Cable: Compared to the original Apple Lightning cable, this cable is thicker. But when we twisted the area where near each end of the cable, it showed noticeable wrinkles. It didn’t make us satisfied. It could reach up to 2.33 amps of current when charging an iPad.
OPSO 3.3ft PVC Lightning Cable: The PVC of this cable is less sturdy than Anker Lightning to USB Cable 3ft, but the price is nearly the same. So, we gave up on it. It could reach up to 2.32 amps of current when charging an iPad.
ZMI 3.3ft Lightning Cable: It is similar to the original Apple Lightning cable whether its appearance or build quality. It could reach up to 2.33 amps of charging speed when connecting to an iPad. Although its PVC is thicker than the original Apple cable, it showed obvious wrinkles when we twisted it, which disappointed us.
RAVPower 3ft / 6ft PVC Lightning Cable: This is a model that is comparable with Anker Lightning to USB Cable in our pick. It is made of PVC which is soft and durable enough, and it’s reasonably priced. However, its 3ft and 6ft versions are bundled, you have to buy them both. If you need to purchase two different lengths of Lightning cables at once, it would be a great choice.
AmazonBasics 3ft PVC Lightning Cable: This cable is satisfying whether its quality or charging speed. It could reach up to 2.34 amps of current when connecting to an iPad. We didn’t choose it because it is more expensive than other PVC Lightning cables we recommended above.
ESK PVC Lightning to USB Cable 3.9ft: This Lightning cable features great charging performance, and its PVC material is very solid and durable. However, its cable diameter and the connector at each end are relatively thick, so we think it is inconvenient to store.
For Nylon Lightning Cable
ZMI 3.3ft Nylon Lightning Cable: This Lightning cable has a special design. It has a magnetic holder and each end of the cable can attach to it. Hang this holder on the bedside or office desk to easily solve the organizing problem. It could reach up to 2.33 amps of charging speed when connecting to an iPad. But the quality is not as good as we thought. This nylon cable will pill a lot which makes it look bad and makes us worry about its lifespan at the same time. Plus, it is more expensive than most Lightning cables we recommended.
CRDC 3.3ft Nylon Lightning Cable: This cable is as thick as Anker Nylon Lightning to USB Cable 3ft. During use, we found it easy to pill. As for the charging speed, it could only reach to 2.22 amps to an iPad mini 4.
Rock 3.3ft Nylon Lightning Cable: It pilled obviously at each neck and on the main body. It is not durable enough, making it easy to break during use. It could reach up to 2.3 amps of current when charging an iPad.
MCDODO 3.9ft Nylon Lightning Cable: It is a typical Lightning cable without MFi certification. Although it is special and has very fine build quality, it is not MFi-certified, and it had only 2.15 amps of charging speed of an iPad. In our testing, we found it would affect the usage of the iPad.