With Apple’s stricter control over the Lightning I/O port compared to the previous 30-pin connector, there has been a dearth of cheaper third-party cables as a result of the more stringent requirements that need to be met in order for new cables to be certified officially by Apple for sale with the MFi trademark for use on iOS-powered devices. As of the past few days however, the number of officially authorized third-party cables is now on the rise.
Both Amazon and consumer electronics dealer Monoprice have begun offering their own officially licensed Lightning-to-USB cables at lower prices compared to Apple’s own cables, with Amazon’s sole offering in a 3-ft. cable now available for $14.99. In contrast, Monoprice is offering multiple lengths at 3 ft. for $11.77, 6 ft. for $12.56 and a Slimfit version for $12.73. The 6 ft. and Slimfit cables will launch in the next few weeks.
The biggest reason for the lack of third-party cables stems from Apple’s rules on manufacturing the cables themselves. As Apple has a list of pre-approved OEMs licensed to manufacture Lightning port accessories, anyone attempting to circumvent the manufacturer requirement will not receive authorization and MFi certification for any Lightning accessories manufactured by anyone other than pre-approved manufacturers.
While this ensures a baseline quality and safety level for all accessories and is meant to curtail the prevalence of low-quality accessories, in practice it prevents most third parties from being able to provide and sell equivalent quality alternatives at lower costs to consumers, even as consumers grow impatient waiting for cheaper alternatives. With the launch of these cables, it seems that more third-parties will be able to offer their own officially licensed and authorized accessories in due time.