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Apple’s Secret Chip In Official Lightning Cable & Adapters Revealed, Knock-offs Probably Won’t Work

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A few days back, cabling expert Peter from Double Helix Cables discovered that Apple’s new Lightning connector sports 8 pins on each side of the plug which are dynamically assigned taking advantage of iPhone 5’s unique chip. Further digging by the same guy has now revealed that Apple has added a secret authenticator chip in the official lightning cable and adapters in order to prevent third-party knock-offs from working (via Gizmodo).

Apple has placed a chip between the cord’s USB contact and the power pin on the Lightning plug, which seems to be the key to keeping Lighting cables and adapters proprietary and its the first time that such a sophisticated chip has been seen in something as basic as a charging cable, according to Peter. He believes that the chip doesn’t block the data lines, but you need both data and power to connect by USB.

This could mean that it’s less nefarious than a authentication system, that it’s just for power regulation – but it looks like a serious microcontroller of some sort, it doesn’t look like a garden variety voltage regulator that I’ve ever seen. It has a mirror-finish shiny metal exterior with lasered numbers on it, it does not look like a generic black IC. If it really costs $3.50 for a lightning plug, then it could be something quite high tech.

“There is basically no way [third-party adapters] are functional cables. You can’t just build a Lightning cable by making something with the same shape and connectivity.”

This means that all those third-party connectors out there will sure fit the ports on iPhone 5 and new iPod touch but they probably aren’t going to actually work. If you’ve had the chance to get one off Amazon or eBay, do share your experience with us in the comments section below.

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  • Ckavvouras

    Lol that’s pretty funny, I love my gs3 more and more each day

  • Techpm

    As explained elsewhere the pins on lightning port are dynamically reassignable. The chip is there to tell the phone where to expect the power. Third parties will figure it out quickly, if not already.

  • Randy Ritraj

    So much that you spend your time on an Apple blog? I guess that’s how you try to make yourself feel better for the poor choice of phone.

  • Haha good one. 🙂

  • cain

    I purchased a cable and 30 pin adapter from a group buy site for $15. I’m wondering now if they are even going to work. I’m glad I asked about a refund.

  • Vacario

    LMAO that’s the best response I’ve heard to the stupid gs3 comments,, simply awesome

  • nosnoop

    As I mentioned before, the change of adapter design is purely for more profit.
    If it is for space saving, you could easily go with the standard micro USB, which can achieve most of the connectivity function that most consumers want (after all, all other smartphones use it).

    Now we have to put up with their 1000% profit margin $35 lightning adapter, $45 lightning adapter cable and $21 lightning USB cable…. 🙁
    Worse still, despite what the name “lightning” suggest, it’s not any faster. It’s still USB 2.0.

  • nosnoop

    Figuring it out is one thing, the potential of copyright infringement for the proprietary chip design is another.
    Knowing Apple, they will go after all the 3rd party suppliers with a lawsuit unless they pay Apple a healthy license fee.

  • nosnoop

    Despite this being a pure flame bait by a troll, the micro USB and micro SDHC card are two things I wish for my iPhone that I know would never happen.

  • Mikel

    Apple is seriously starting to piss me off. The proliferation of connectors everywhere made the iPhone attractive. They have no idea how many bridges they’re burning.

    Tim Cook is an idiot.

  • GTRAG

    Ya except for the speed, retina screen, size, fatness and of course the cheap plastic back, been there done that. I had every model that came out and 5 is the best

  • Fab

    No doubt about that definitely couldn’t downgrade to iPhone 5

  • Rob Raymond

    I could almost guarantee you Steve Jobs got the ball rolling on this. Tim is all about the supply chain. I’d blame Ives or Mansfield before Cook.

  • AccordXTC

    Things Apple do is like gas prices going up, people bitch whine cry and shake there fists, but in the end people still buy the crap and life goes on, who gives a fuck about this cable. I have a iphone 5, im not a fanboy but dam the way people bitch on here makes a women on her rag look to be a better person to ask.

  • JMCD23

    Not when they’re made in China and you order off ebay. Copyright + China doesn’t really work.

  • Sevael

    I’ve seen a number of third-party lightning cables labelled as being
    “charge only” and will not sync. So I don’t know that the third-party
    cables “won’t work” as much as they “won’t sync”. I only need the one
    sync cable; the rest are just for charging. I have no problems with
    this.

    I have two third-party cables in the mail right now. I’ll test them once they arrive.

  • FragilityG4

    But why? Is it that much of an advantage? I look at is another place for dust to collect and another potential breaking point.

  • I get the reasoning behind wishing for micro USB but I have to say, I love that the lightning cable is reversible. It makes things so easy in the dark and I won’t have to worry about my dad breaking his phone because he tried to jam it in the wrong way. Trivial I know, but I love it.

    As for micro SDHC, I used to yearn for it but having now bought my third iPhone, I don’t really find myself wanting anymore. Plus, I realized that on board flash typically has an edge on removable flash, speed wise.

  • Ima Letcha finish, but the Fragile is one of the best albums of all time!!!

  • Rio

    Does it make them profit? Ofcourse it does. Is that the only reason they do it? Deff not.

    How many Docks/accessories do you see with Micro USB? There is a reason apple uses their connectors, it does a lot more than a standard usb be can do out of the box.

  • Marco Polo

    hahahaha, this is indeed an awesome response. Randy, I am your fan now. You see all these stupid gs3 suckers all over iPhone related blogs trying to praise their shitty phone. A real good slap on their faces.. ha ha ha ha..

  • FragilityG4

    It really was the perfect follow up to the downward spiral

  • kc a

    GS3 is a much better phone than what the iphone 5 could ever dream of being, so why dont you drive its ultra thin design up your ass with the rest of your bullshit…

  • The cable has huge advantages over the previous standard, but no devices take advantage of its expanded capabilities. This is about the future roadmap, and the old 30 pin connector had to die at some point. Remember, it pre-dated the iPhone altogether. A lot has changed since then. From an engineering perspective, the port and cable is a younger sibling to Thunderbolt, with pins controlled by a microchip able to assign any necessary configuration over a fully digital interface. This should open up some very interesting peripheral opportunities that were previously impossible. It is a huge inconvenience for everyone right now, but believe me, this is the farthest thing from a cash grab. This is part of the future roadmap, which included programmable interfaces that can carry mulitple streams simultaneously, etc.

  • kc a

    gs3 is currently #1 phone in canada…

  • Haha the gs3 is only thebeginong of a torrentththat started with the HTC one x. I love apple and their simplicity but android is catching up and its dining it quickly.

  • Whether its the cable or not the iPhone 5 charges much faster then the 4s

  • Defcon1

    How so? Speed, screen quality, where does the SIII beat the iPhone? You saw the test results, it even won the drop test. But go ahead and try to justify your purchase. You guys always try to bash the iPhone, that in return explains everything doesn’t it?

  • crosseyed_mofo

    just took sooo long to come out…

  • FragilityG4

    I know waits kill me … I’m dying sitting here waiting for the next Tool album … Hopefully this year!

  • ThatGuy

    How does this affect accessory makers? Will we see an hdmi to lightning? If no one can duplicate the connector, what about Car stereo systems? Audio docks?

  • LondonFish

    Exactly, this a smaller and faster cable than the 30pin, so it is an improvement. The ones who complain are the ones who have invested heavily on accessories, and too bad they should think before buying too many accesories for any particular device. Besides, if you look at PS1-3, Nintendo consoles, their controllers or memory cards are all different, but phone users somehow expect differently, grow up.

  • Open421

    Downgrade from what? Speed, build quality or screen quality? So what phone as proven to be better than these from the iPhone? Prove it to me.

  • Mindfield

    Well, I just ordered a third party 8-to-30-pin adapter so I guess I’ll see fairly soon whether or not it works. I got it specifically for charging so I can still use some of my older (and more importantly longer) cables for charging, I don’t really care if it syncs.

  • Crafty

    Where are those updates from those that bought 3rd party cables/adapters? 🙂

  • llluis

    Hi guys, no news from those who bought it?

  • Shad Louf

    For my part, I buy a lightning adaptater on ebay for my ihome system and it’s not work… Why? Simply because the Original Apple lightning adaptater have a *chip* inside and the ebay or amazon one have not. Apple just want make cash.

  • Shad Louf

    But, yes i can sync and charging on my computer.

  • Sulley

    The 8-pin “knock-off” adapters will charge your Apple device and will sync data to your computer via iTunes. They will not, however, play music through to your audio device, such as an iHome or car stereo. I have found this out the hard way, having purchased a wide variety of knock-offs and legitimate Apple adapters.

    So basically, if all you care about is charging or syncing, go with the less-expensive knock-offs. But if you want to play music through the adapter, you had better cough up the money for an authentic Apple product.

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