Lightning ports were once ubiquitous in Apple’s iPhone and iPad lineup. While they remain a standard feature on all iPhones, it is now only the standard iPad that uses a Lightning port for charging and data transfer, while all other current-generation iPads prefer a USB-C port.
For iPhones and older iPads that use the Lightning port, you can purchase a cable with a Lightning connector on one end and a USB-A or smaller USB-C connector on the other. Which one you choose depends partly on the charging speed and partly on the device to which you want to connect your iPhone or iPad.
As most Apple users will agree, one Lightning cable is never enough. Whether damaged by wear and tear, lost, borrowed or stolen, you can rest assured that it will never be there when you need it.
It makes sense to have more than one on hand, although Apple’s own Lightning cables can be quite expensive, as can third-party versions certified as Made for iPhone, iPad, or iPod (MFi).
Nevertheless, we strongly recommend that you buy a certified cable as cheap third-party alternatives have a nasty habit of suddenly deciding not to work with your device anymore. Plus, they can be dangerous – here are some good reasons why you shouldn’t buy a cheap Lightning cable.
If you always have to buy new cables, you might also want to consider a wireless charger, with traditional docks, stands and pads, as well as portable wireless chargers with built-in batteries available now. All current-generation iPhones support wireless charging, but keep in mind that this is usually a slower process than wired charging (depending on your cable and adapter). Only buy a MagSafe version if you have an iPhone 12 or 13.
Best Lightning Cables for iPhone and iPad
Apple Lightning to USB-C Cable – Most Trusted USB-C to Lightning Cable
To unlock Fast Charge on your iPhone, you need a USB-C to Lightning cable (and at least an 18W adapter). Apple’s variant may be one of the more expensive examples, but it’s also the most reliable, coming directly from Apple itself.
The Apple Lightning to USB-C cable is available in 0.5m, 1m and 2m lengths and comes in just one color: iconic Apple white. Keep in mind that it can get dirty quickly.
Apple Lightning to USB-A Cable – Most Trusted USB-A to Lightning Cable
Not as iconic as the white earbuds, but still white and handy, you may want to buy your Lightning cable directly from Apple.
The standard cable that comes with most Apple products is the 1m cable, but it’s also available in half or double that length (0.5m is the same price; 2m is an extra tenner).
As a USB-A cable, it doesn’t support Apple’s Fast Charge on iPhone, but it’s quite handy nonetheless.
Keep in mind that these white cables often turn a nice shade of cloudy gray quite quickly depending on your usage.
UNBREAK Cable Lightning Cables – Best Budget Lightning Cable
Might not take it easy, but otherwise the UNBREAK cable lives up to its name. The company claims that this cable lasts 20 times longer than other cables and can withstand more than 20,000 bends.
Tensile strength is provided by a high-quality and ultra-strong aramid fiber core, allowing it to support loads of up to 15 kg.
This cable is available in white or black and in lengths of 1m or 2m.
UNBREAK Cable USB-C to Lightning Cable
To quickly charge your iPhone, you’ll need a Lightning cable with USB-C on the other end, and this MFI-certified cable from UNBREAKcable is both strong and fast-charging.
It is available in one color (silver gray) and one length (1 m, 3.3 ft).
StartTech.com USB to Lightning Cable – Best Coiled Lightning Cable
Rolled up so compact
USB-A and USB-C versions
If cable snakes annoy you, a coiled cable takes up less space on your desk or wherever you put it.
This coiled Lightning cable is available with USB-A or USB-C (for fast charging) on the other end and in 50cm/20in or 1m/3ft lengths.
The shorter cable extends to 50cm/20in and contracts to 32cm/12.5in. The longer version extends to 1 m/1.3 ft (1 m) and contracts to 38 cm/1.2 ft.
Syncwire Charge & Sync Cable – Best Value Durable Cable
Syncwire’s MFi-certified charging cable looks like an Apple Lightning cable with its smooth white casing, but it’s stronger than it looks and promises to be 30 times stronger than the original item.
It’s a USB-A cable, so you won’t get more than 12W of charging, but if that’s enough for your needs, we think sometimes it pays to keep things simple.
This 1 meter cable is from a well-known brand and is pleasantly affordable. It also has a handy loop attached to avoid cable clutter and keep things tidy.
StarTech Short Lightning Cable – Best Short Lightning Cable
You know what? Sometimes you just need a short cable, instead of a skinny python swinging across your desk.
One of the best short Lightning cables we’ve seen is from the ever-reliable StarTech.com.
It is 15 cm long and available in white or black. The company also sells options in different lengths if you prefer something longer.
Mous FlexLine Lightning Cable – Best Rugged Cable
We’re not sure what iPhone users do with their cables, but there are quite a few accessories designed to survive a war zone.
Mous’s FlexLine Lightning cable is designed to withstand over 10,000 bends and is apparently durable enough to carry 140kg and even tow a car (we didn’t test this).
The heads of the cable are reinforced by being double clamped onto the cable for extra durability.
It is a black nylon braided 1.5m USB-A to Apple Lightning Port cable (MFi certified by Apple).
Moshi USB Cable with Lightning Connector – Best Long Cable
Moshi’s Lightning cable comes in a few lengths, but our favorite is the longest, this 10ft/3m version. If the outlet in your room of choice is further away from your expansive place of choice, here’s the answer.
It is also convenient to drive around in a car. The thicker cable than Apple is more durable and should last a while – Moshi products are very well made.
Available in USB-A or USB-C, available directly from Moshi or Amazon.
Fuse Chicken Titan Loop – Best Design
The Titan Loop from the amazingly named company Fuse Chicken is the strongest keychain cable in the world and is a clever little charging loop. The end of the Lightning connector wraps around and fits into a cap next to the USB connector, creating a neat metal loop.
It can be easily hooked onto a bag loop, belt or as a key ring. Or it could just be a neat, durable cable. Another good choice as long as the plug or your computer is not far from whatever you want to sync or charge.
AmazonBasics Lightning Cable – Best Basic Cable
Products in the AmazonBasics range just work and they are very cheap to boot. Cheap doesn’t mean bad though – Basic’s 1.82m cable costs less than a tenner, and if you can find the shorter version in stock, it’s even cheaper.
Amazon does note that it works with “almost all cases,” so you might want to double-check, but we doubt this would be an issue for most accessories.
USB-A vs. USB-C: Which Lightning Cable Should I Buy?
Fast charging on an iPhone (available on iPhone 8 and later) can only be achieved when using a USB-C to Lightning cable and pairing it with an 18W-plus Apple adapter (now available in 20W to 96W, with the 140W model not recommended for iPhone) or a third-party model that supports Power Delivery.
An SB-A to Lightning cable charges your iPhone more slowly, regardless of which adapter it is paired with.
It’s true that there are also some differences between USB-C and USB-A when it comes to data transfer speeds, with only USB-C capable of the latest USB 4.0 standard, which can reach Thunderbolt 3/4 equivalent speeds of 40 percent. Gbps. Anyway, Lightning can only carry 480 Mbps (similar to USB 2.0 speed), making this a moot point for this range of cables.
Identical in design to Thunderbolt, USB-C is a conveniently reversible and future-proof connector. But USB-A remains commonplace, which is why it is still sought after by iPhone and iPad users.