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Security chip in Apple’s “Lightning” connector will make it very difficult to imitate

With the launch of Apple's new iPhone 5, a new 8-pin charging cable has also been released known as "Lightning". Infamously expensive, older iPhone cables were easily imitated and sold cheap online. But new measures will make this very hard for the new Lightning connector.

Many woes have been sung about the iPhone 5, not least of which has been the explosion of criticism regarding its Maps application. This piece has been crowding tech news sources around the web since the device's release in September. The popularity of this particular problem has overshadowed some smaller issues, including the iPhone's new 8-pin "Lightning" charger and connector

While there isn't generally an issue with the product itself as a step up from Apple's former 30-pin connector, the expense of it is another issue. Official iPhone chargers have long sold for big bucks at stores, averaging about $20 per cable. And, despite all the upgrades in the new iPhone, a cheaper cable does not number among them.  

In fact, to make matters worse, those who are now stuck with Apple's older connectors must buy a $30 adapter to remedy the compatibility issue with the iPhone 5. Of course, for a phone that is already pricey, this isn't exactly exciting anybody.

Taking advantage of Apple's excessively pricey older chargers, a lot of unofficial ones were made available, especially from Chinese manufacturers over the internet. Even at the time of this article’s writing, an iPhone cable can be purchased on eBay.com for $19 while an imitation cable costs only pennies with free shipping.

But this situation is going to change with the new Lightning connector, which has come prebuilt with new measures to make imitation much more difficult. This was confirmed to CNN by an unnamed source "with knowledge of Apple's manufacturing". While the original 30-pin cables for older iPhones did not contain an authentication chip, the newer 8-pin cables do. "Chinese manufacturers are currently working to clone this new connector," said the source, "but they cannot do it with the same ease and low cost as before, I don't think."

Apple does have a “Made for iPhone” program, also known as MFi. This is for third-parties who want to manufacture legitimate accessories compatible with the iPhone. Deputy editor at Cult of Mac, John Brownlee, predicts that Apple will try to make a fair amount of money by signing more Lightning deals to third-parties.

"Apple will crack down pretty hard on anyone it can who tries to rip off Lightning.” Brownlee said, and went on to say “Lightning's sophistication should make it a lot harder for anyone to make a Lightning connector without paying a licensing fee. Which is, of course, by design.”


Brandon Shutt
Brandon is an A+ certified technician and freelance writer living in East Tennessee. He loves God, writing, science (especially technology) and philosophy. He is currently preparing to enter the field of information security.

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