Apple’s Lightning Connector’s authentication chip thwarts cheap knockoffs

“Apple’s pricey iPhone chargers have traditionally been the target of a thriving black market, with knockoff versions of the easy-to-copy cables available online for mere pennies,” Julianne Pepitone reports for CNNMoney. “That could stop with the iPhone 5, which includes a new connector that’s much, much harder to fake.”

“When Apple announced and released the iPhone 5 last month, it ditched the so-called 30-pin connector it used for almost a decade for a smaller, 8-prong setup dubbed ‘Lightning.’ The smaller size wasn’t the only change,” Pepitone reports. “The operator of Double Helix Cables, an online cable shop, tore apart the Lightning connector just after the iPhone 5’s release — and discovered a chip that wasn’t included in the 30-pin version. His findings, which were first published on the blog AppleInsider, revealed that the intricate architecture of the new cables makes them difficult to rip off. That’s in stark contrast to the simple and often-copied 30-pin connector.”

Pepitone reports, “A source with knowledge of Apple’s manufacturing confirmed that the Lightning connector does have an authentication chip, and the 30-pin does not… John Brownlee, a deputy editor at Cult of Mac who closely tracks Apple’s adapters, told CNNMoney he thinks Apple ‘currently only legally pursues unlicensed 30-pin dock connectors if they are a business of a certain size.’ He expects that to change with Lightning.”

Read more in the full article here.

24 Comments

  1. Well since the adapters aren’t available anywhere at the moment my big question is: Where are they and why were they not ready in time for the launch of the Iphone 5? It can hardly has come as a surprise for the cable and adapter people at Apple that the company was to switch to a new kind of plug?
    Procurement?

    1. you might want to try Apple…. cause they DO have them.
      Worstbuy etc have to wait.

      I walked into my Apple Store the 24th, they had an entire row of them. (easily 50+ in stock) just checked my apple store app, yep I can buy an extra one today and have it waiting for me when i get there…

      and if you have no Apple store nearby, store.apple.com and don’t believe the 1-2 week ship dates…

      1. Cables or adapters. Cables can be found, although they weren’t easily available at launch. My pre-order came a couple of days after the iPhone 5 arrived. I have yet to find a Lightning/30-pin adapter, and I pre-ordered one within 20 minutes of them going on sell.

  2. Maybe the chip does more than authentication. Maybe it says what each pin is. Apple has a patent for connectors with pin out allowing a connected device to assign pins based on a chip in the connector

  3. One of Apple’s biggest headaches was cheaply made 30-pin knockoffs. They looked exactly like Apple’s and they frequently didn’t work, which resulted in Apple taking the blame.

    Just ask any repair shop, or ex-Apple repair employees willing to talk, problems caused by cheaply made iPhone connectors occupied a significant percentage a support department’s time.

    Apple also stands to make some money while saving time.

    1. That’s great, but the problem with this is that 3rd parties were providing all kinds of cables Apple never did. This includes short cables, long cables, double headed cables, and different colors.

      It would suck if all we ever got was the standard, white, single headed, 3′ Lightning cable.

      Additionally there are all kinds of 3rd party batteries with 30-pin connectors. I used to travel with a bunch of cheap ones in my backpack and just give them away when I saw people with out-of-power iPhones.

      I hope the iPhone doesn’t become like the MagSafe on the MacBooks where Apple not only doesn’t produce an external battery, but prevents everyone else from doing it (in a practical manner) as well.

      Otherwise, I’m loving Lightning.

      1. That’s the thing though – those third parties got liscenses to produce apple cables. This chip only prevents the third party manufacturers who DON’T have a liscense from making cheap knockoffs. So yes, third parties will be able to make Lightning cables, they just have to pass the Apple quality test first.

        1. But *that’s* the thing. We haven’t seen any 3rd party cables for Lightning, and we don’t know yet what the situation will be. We might find some, but they might be expensive, or we might find that like the MagSafe, there are none, or we might find less expensive ones than Apple. I’m hoping for the best, but not expecting it.

  4. I have a third party 30 pin connector that came with a cigarette lighter adapter for the car. It’s black with a high quality coiled cable and is better made and more reliable than any Apple sourced cable for the iPod/iPad/iPhone.

    Apple is effing greedy.

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