Are Counterfeit Lightning Cables Safe to Use?

It seems Apple devices and accessories are ubiquitous these days. While it is common for Lightning cables to be used daily, it is not always clear which ones are safe and which ones can lead to problems down the road. The article, “Why Counterfeit Lightning Cables Kill iPhones” written by Motherboard, discusses an unrelenting issue occurring in the charging world of electronic devices, particularly with Apple iPhones.


Counterfeit Cables in Sheep's Clothing

There is an abundance of knock-off Apple iPhone chargers on the market, and while it may seem safe to use them with your iPhone or other Apple devices, it turns out they can actually harm your phone all the way down to the motherboard, causing irreparable damage.

The article discusses how some of the Apple accessories on the market are not MFi (Made for iPhone) approved, meaning that they are not reviewed and tested against Apple’s standards and specification compliances. Charging cables that are MFi approved have been permitted by Apple and are considered safe for use by the general public.  These cables will always include an MFi approved label.


Why Counterfeit Cables May Be Unsafe

Counterfeit cords that aren’t regulated are often produced with no safety precaution mechanism; they do not always include Apple’s certified E75 chip, which is a regulator of power allowances between the phone and the cable. Cables without this regulator chip, or cables with reverse engineered E75 chips, can cause the charger to overpower the iPhone and burn the Tristar (U2) chip on the motherboard.

The article mentions, "MFi cables are designed to work with an iPhone. The Tristar (or U2 chip) regulates the amount of power that your phone’s logic board can receive. A bonafide MFi charger has what’s called an E75 chip. The E75 is like a bouncer. It scans the crowd outside of the door, makes sure everything is chill, and then tells your phone that it’s okay go ahead and take in the voltage. Then, the E75 validates the message with a super-secret password. If you plug in a cord that doesn’t have an E75, you’ll see an "Accessory not supported" message on your phone. No password, no charging."


Permanent  Damage Can Occur with Unregulated Lightning Cables

Those that have been unfortunate enough to use these unregulated charging cords and have experienced phone damage may suffer these consequences permanently.

The article adds, "If you think you’ve already damaged your phone due to a bum charging cord, I’m afraid there’s no good DIY fix…swapping out the battery or changing the charging port won’t work. It’s the motherboard that needs a little TLC. The Geniuses at the Apple won’t be able to help, either—they can’t make repairs to the motherboard."

Moral of the story is that while it may seem trivial or too expensive to purchase an MFi approved cord, going with this option may actually be saving you a lot of grief and money in the end.


How Can These Problems Be Avoided?

Advanced Cable Tester


The good news is that Total Phase offers tools that help prevent situations like these for manufacturers and sellers. The Total Phase Advanced Cable Tester is a tool that thoroughly tests cables against multiple standards, including USB and Lightning. Our easy to read pass/fail confirmation is designed to quickly provide insight of a good cable, which can be useful for those in a manufacturing setting. Our tests include continuity checks on pins preventing shorts on the VBUS to data signals, measuring DCR and IR drops on the VBUS and GND power pins, verifying and comparing the E-marker capabilities to advertised data, and even testing for signal integrity of SuperSpeed and High-Speed USB 2.0 pairs to ensure they meet the relevant specifications.


Benefits of the Advanced Cable Tester

The main user interface of the Advanced Cable Tester provides users with preset test profiles, which are standard test profiles provided for common cable types. The Advanced Cable Tester supports testing of both Full-Featured and USB 2.0 Type-C cables. Adapter cards are available for legacy connectors, enabling testing of additional types of cables, including Lightning:

  • Standard-A to Micro-B (USB 2.0 & USB 3.1)
  • Standard-A to Type-C (USB 2.0 & USB 3.1)
  • Standard-A to Lightning (USB 2.0)
  • Type-C to Micro-B (USB 2.0 & USB 3.1)
  • Type-C to Lightning (USB 2.0)
  • Lightning to Micro-B (USB 2.0 & USB 3.1)

Test profiles:

Test profiles

For more information about the Advanced Cable Tester, please visit:

Here is  the link to the entire article “Why Counterfeit Lightning Cables Kill iPhones”.


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