The Best iPhone Charging Cables That Aren’t Made by Apple
You’d be forgiven for assuming the best iPhone charger cable comes from Apple. After all, the company’s phones, headphones, and accessories all use a proprietary connection you won’t see on any non-Apple products. When the Lightning cable was first introduced in 2012, all the third-party alternatives to Apple’s own cable were basically junk. They frayed easily. They didn’t always successfully connect to your computer or iPad. They felt janky, wobbling when you plugged them into charging ports and resisting when you pulled them out. And the cheapest of them charged so slowly you probably would have been better off using some kind of novelty hand crank.
In the years since, the universe of cable standards has changed a lot. Lightning cables are old news, since almost all Android phones and new MacBook Pros now charge with USB-C ports. (Who even remembers Micro-USB cables or that weird 30-pin connector?) In addition, all Apple phones since the 2017 iPhone 8 now support wireless charging, no Lightning cable required. In the midst of this revolution, a constellation of third-party retailers started to get their act together. Before long, Amazon was chock-full of cables that were stronger, faster, and (usually) cheaper than those you’d find at Apple.
If you’re looking to buy the best iPhone charger cables in 2022, you can skip the $20 plain-white cord at the Apple store. All the below options are durable, charge your smartphones, AirPods, or older iPads quickly, and are Apple MFi-certified (which means that it should transfer data to and from any iOS device without issue). Whether you’re just looking for a cheap replacement for a fraying cord, something that’s compatible with your new laptop, a cord with an eye-catching design, a super long cord so that you can scroll through Instagram on either side of your mattress, or a cord that can resist literally being cut by a chainsaw, we’ve got you covered.
What is lightning charging?
Since 2012, iPhones have been equipped to charge via Lightning cables, or eight-pin cables, which replaced older 30-pin charging cables. And these puppies can do a lot more than charge. They can also transmit data between devices, allowing you to easily transfer photos and files between devices if you’re not uploading everything directly to the Cloud. Lightning cables are also exclusive to Apple products, which has been a source of frustration because USB-C cables are much more widely used. In fact, the European Union recently agreed to force all devices to be charged by USB-C by 2024. The idea for establishing a common standard for charging is so popular that U.S. U.S. senators are pushing for the same thing.
What to look for in an iPhone charging cable
Length: An iPhone charging cable can range from anywhere between a foot long to 10 feet in length. If you’re charging in your car or at your desk, you probably don’t need too much cable to go around because your phone will already be at arm’s length. On the other hand, if you want to venture a little further from your power outlet (say, in a crowded coffee shop), a longer cable will give you mobility while still allowing you to charge your phone.
MFi certification: Originally launched in 2005, the Made for iPod program let third party manufacturers get certification that their iPod-related accessories were actually compatible with iPods (and not just fudging it). The program was later shortened to “MFi” to account for iPods, iPhones, and iPads. If you ever buy an accessory for your Apple product and it’s not manufactured by Apple, just make sure it has MFi certification so that you know it has Apple’s stamp of approval for compatibility with Apple gear.
Durability: Over time, your cable will inevitably start to wear down and fray as you tug it and bend it and toss it into your bag. If you’ve used an Apple charger for more than six months, you know what we’re talking about. For extra durability, look for cables that come encased in Kevlar or braided nylon, which helps protect it from snags and fraying, while still ensuring that it’s flexible and easy to bend.
The Best Lightning Cable Overall: Anker Powerline II
Anker’s Powerline II USB- A cables are the perfect cord for someone who thinks, “I want the same cord that came with my phone, but cheaper.” Its Apple MFi certification means it’s fully compatible with Apple devices, and its lifetime warranty means the only time this cord will let you down is when you eventually lose it. The Anker Powerline II comes in a bunch of different lengths (more on that later), but if you’re just looking for the most direct replacement for the default Apple Lightning cable, buy the three-foot model. The cable also comes in four different colors, but really there is no excuse for not buying it in red.
The Best Super Cheap Lightning Cable: AmazonBasics
There are some cables you can pick up for cheaper than this guy, the AmazonBasics Lightning cable, but you should probably steer clear. The AmazonBasics cable has basically every feature we expect of a cable in this price and more—it’s MFi-certified, comes in four different colors, and has a lifetime warranty. We prefer the Anker Powerline II for its durability and charging speed, but for under 10 bones, the AmazonBasics option is probably the cheapest cable worth buying. Throw it in your glove compartment or the bottom of your bag and you’ll never be without a backup.
For about the same price, don’t sleep on Amazon Basics’ braided nylon cords, too, which offer pretty much the same functionality, but are also a tad more stylish than the basic cable above— with a pliable, durable cord that can handle a bit of twisting without tearing.
The Best USB-C to Lightning Charging Cable: Anker Powerline II
If you’re looking for a USB-C to Lightning cable, the Anker Powerline II is another no-brainer choice. USB-C to Lightning cables are excellent for hooking up to your Macbook, since they let you juice up your phone without having to worry about pulling out a dongle. Plus, USB-C cables tend to transfer power a lot faster than conventional USB-A port cables and take advantage of fast charging, while still giving you all the same structural benefits. USB-C Powerline II cables are durable, MFi-certified, and even boast a lifetime warranty. They only come in white and black, but we don’t think that’s too big of a trade-off for a souped-up charge.
Belkin’s USB-C to Lightning cords are a reasonable alternative to those from Anker. They stay plugged in well, transfer power quickly, are MFi-certified, and hold up well to the wear-and-tear of daily use. The only drawback is they’re a bit more expensive than those from Anker. So unless you have a particular affinity for the Belkin logo (an admittedly adorable rendering of a person stretching out their arms), we think you should still stick with the Anker.
The Best Long Charging Cable: Anker Powerline II
Imagine being able to doomscroll Twitter from either side of your couch. That life of luxury is within your grasp, as soon as you’re willing to embrace the long-ass cable lifestyle. This one is also part of Anker’s PowerLine II collection, but it’s super-long—10-feet long to be exact. The nylon braid adds a nice touch, but otherwise, it’s the same cable at a length (and price) that makes it an easy pick. Tuck one of these in the cushion of your comfiest piece of furniture and resolve to never leave your apartment at 48% battery again.
If you’d like a Lightning cable with just a little more curb appeal, look no further than the Native Union Belt cable. It’s MFi-certified, and has a limited lifetime warranty, which means that even if its fabric snags and the cable stops working, you should stil be able to get it replaced. Plus, in its longest iteration, you get to appreciate whichever one of the four lovely colorways you choose at their fullest. Most people will be just fine with the Anker cable, but if you want something that looks slightly more like a natural extension of your furniture, this is the cable for you.
The Best Short Lightning Cable: Anker Powerline II
As established Anker Powerline II fans, it stands to reason that we’ll be recommending the shortened version of their lightning cable in this category, too. Not many people opt for a one-footer for obvious reasons: Primarily, that it’s so short. It probably won’t stretch between your outlet and your bedside table for overnight charges, but it’s great for hooking up to portable chargers when you’re out and about (or charging from your laptop) without you having to hassle with a 10-footer. It’s also MFi-certified, fast charging, and durable, as you’d probably expect.
The Most Stylish Charging Cable: Native Union Night Lightning Cable
The Native Union Night cable is a 10-footer that checks all the standard boxes, but with a handsome black and white chevron design. The braided fabric cable is extra durable, MFi-certified, and charges up in a flash. Another unexpected perk: It’s got a large, heavy knot right next to its Lightning connector that prevents the cord from falling off the table when not in use. Choose from four different colorways, including Zebra and Indigo, as well as three different connector types.
Anker’s powerline III MFi-certified USB C to lightning cable claims to be its softest texture-wise and the strongest for avoiding fraying and tears. That’s thanks to a combination of copper wires, flexible graphene, and a soft silicone gel exterior. Beyond functionality, it also nails the aesthetics, taking the millennial pastel route (so you might want to coordinate it with your new iPhone 13). Besides the standard white and black, Anker’s cords also come in the delicate grey purple seen here, seafoam green, and pink—all edged in rose gold.
The Best Indestructible Charging Cord: Fuse Chicken Titan+
Fuse Chicken’s cords are coated in stainless steel and overprepared for whatever you throw at them. The brand says its cords can resist the teeth of a chainsaw, which we were not given the budget to test sadly, but we can attest that their cords do feel like they will last forever. You could pass it down to you grandchildren, but they’ll likely have no idea what a charging cable is. The indestructibility is a solid five-star plus, but even more practical is the sturdy cord that can hold itself up, not unlike a snake. Will you look like the laziest person in the world watching videos on your phone while the cord props it up on your couch? Sure. Should you stop doing so? Absolutely not.
This Lightning cable is made from a literally bulletproof material. Its braided wire is extremely sturdy, thanks to a tightly woven casing of reinforced Kevlar. It’s MFi-certified, so you’ll have no trouble using it with any of your Apple devices, and it charges much faster than the conventional Apple charger. The cable also comes with some useful built-in details, like a rubber cable tie that helps keep it wrapped when not in use. That’s ideal if you’re the kind of person who cannot fathom using a cable organizer—this cable organizes itself.
The Best Lightning Cable Multi-Pack: Anker Powerline+ II
Now that we’ve sold you on every iteration of the Anker Powerline IIs, you might be ready to invest in a pack that comes in varying lengths for whatever outlet situations you find yourself in. This Ankerline Powerline II three-pack is our top pick for buying in “bulk,” with a three-foot, six-foot, and 10-foot version of the brand’s MFi-certified cables. The lifetime guarantee sweetens the deal, ensuring that you can easily replace them if something malfunctions down the line.
If you’re not looking to spend a full $50 on a pack of Lightning cables, though, you could also take home this six-pack for a whole family (offering two three-foot cords, three six-foot cords, and one 10-footer) for only $12. The brand Yefoot isn’t a super recognizable name, but the specs are right: braided nylon for durability and looks, MFi certification for compatibility with a slew of Apple devices, and more than 18,000 positive reviews to back it up.