Tuesday Tip: What’s in Your Charging Cable?

With its release of the iPhone 15, Apple has finally jumped on the universal charging connector bandwagon. For consumers, this good news since it means iPhone users can now charge with the same cables as Android phones.

But of course, this does not mean their USB-C cables are cheap, and in fact, they cost as much as $129.

The tech research company Lumafield decided to delve deep — literally – and used X-ray CT scanners to examine what lies inside various USB-C cables, ranging from the budget-friendly to Apple’s super-expensive Thunderbolt 4 cable.

The Budget $5 USB-C Cable

Researchers peered inside the $5.59 USB-C cable by NiceTQ, which offers modest 60W charging. At first glance, it promises whopping data transfer speeds of 10Gbps. But when Lumafield took a closer look, they discovered a different story. Out of the eight pins, only half were active, directly soldered to the cable wires. Contrary to its lofty claims, this cable can only muster a top speed of 480Mbps, judging from its pin arrangement. And with no backup, if just one of these pins fails, the entire cable becomes useless.

Apple’s $129 Thunderbolt Cable

Apple promises lightning-fast data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps, charging at a rapid 100W, and the ability to connect up to six Thunderbolt 3 devices in a chain.  Lumafiled scans exposed a robust stainless steel enclosure housing 24 independent pins on a 10-layer PCBA. Ten of these wires are co-axially shielded, each meticulously soldered to a complex PCB assembly.

The lesson here is USB-C cables can be (and have been) overly engineered. No doubt Apple put in a lot of work in its cables, although they might look the same on the surface as a cheap charger. Is it worth the $129 price tag, though? You be the judge.

Kyle Zoeller: In his role of Client Manager, Kyle spends his days gaining a deep understanding his clients’ businesses, ensuring they have the support they need, and being there to provide advice and guidance as their IT requirements evolve.

Network 1 designs, builds and supports the IT you need to run your business more securely, productively and successfully. Whether you want to outsource all of your IT needs to a reliable, responsive, service-oriented company, or need to supplement the work of your internal IT staff, we will carefully evaluate where you are now, discuss where you want to go and implement and support a plan to get you there with as little interruption as possible.

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