Lightning Cables Failing Due to Corrosion, Cause Unclear

Tuesday March 4, 2014 12:30 PM PST by Juli Clover
Since being introduced alongside the iPhone 5 in 2012, Apple's Lightning cable has been criticized for its poor durability, as it is prone to breakage and fraying near the adapter.

It appears the Lightning cable may be vulnerable to corrosion as well, according to a report from ZDNet's Jason O'Grady, who noticed corrosion on the gold contacts of his Lightning cable after it had been failing to charge his iPhone.

corrodedlightningcable
About a month ago the Apple Lightning to USB cable (PN: MD818ZM/A, $19) that I keep in my vehicle for charging my iPhone 5s began to fail. At first charging was intermittent, then within a week the cable wouldn't charge my iPhone at all. A closer look at the male end of the Apple Lightning to USB cable reveals that several of the gold contacts have become corroded.
In addition to O'Grady, several other users on Apple's Support Communities have experienced corrosion issues as well, with reports dating back to 2012. Several users have been told by Apple that it is likely that the cables were exposed to moisture to cause the corrosion, but several reports suggest there was no contact with liquid before the corrosion appeared.

Apple Community user "Brockap3" supplied photos of his Lightning cable under a microscope and suggested that the corrosion was happening primarily on the VBUS/V++/Power pin on the Lightning cable. He offered two explanations for the issue:
1) two gold electrodes placed in an aqueous solution with a positive voltage on one wire and ground applied to the other will corrode the positive gold electrode away

2) electrical arcing causing the corrosion (originally I dismissed this as it is just USB - i.e. 5 V /2 A max)

After examining the male and female sides, it would seem both are likely culprits, but you would have to have some pretty serious condensation on the pins to get this to happen with steam.
lightningcablemicroscope
Apple does appear to be exchanging Lightning cables that are unusable due to the corrosive deposits, so it is likely that users experiencing issues can have their cables replaced at an Apple retail location or through an Authorized Service Provider.

Top Rated Comments

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Posted: 9 months ago
iPod/iPhone cables have never been Apples strongpoint for durability.

Rating: 28 Votes
Posted: 9 months ago

Engineered-in obsolescence at it's finest.


Yeah when they replace them for free it certainly seems that way.
/sarcasm
Rating: 26 Votes
Posted: 9 months ago
It is quite simple... Stop pulling the cable instead of the connector. ;)

iPod/iPhone cables have never been Apples strongpoint for durability.

Rating: 15 Votes
Posted: 9 months ago
Engineered-in obsolescence at it's finest.
Rating: 14 Votes
Posted: 9 months ago
am I the only one that has never had any problem with their apple cables?

Even my original 30 pin on my ipod video (2005) still works perfectly (even the buttons you need to press to release it from the device!) and has no fraying at all. Every 30 pin I have and every lightning cable I have is still in near perfect condition.
Rating: 12 Votes
Posted: 9 months ago
CableGate?

sorry, my apologies to everyone in advance. I just couldn't resist.
Rating: 10 Votes
Posted: 9 months ago

Lies. Every apple charger (and headphone cable) I've had since 2007 has broken or frayed at some point. This goes for Macbook, iOS device you name it. They're simply terrible. The only Apple cables I've not had to replace are the ones in static machines (iMac) and in my 2003 powerbook, of which has that 'ugly looking' anti fraying device shown on the black cable that someone posted above.


"Lies?" That is harsh. I could tell you "You need to learn to take care of your stuff" but that would be equally harsh.

Add me to the "never had a problem" pile. None of my Apple cables have ever malfunctioned, frayed, or been damaged in any way, and that includes:

a PowerBook G4 charging cable
2 MacBook Pro charging cables
2 iPad charging blocks (and cables)
2 iPhone charging blocks (and cables)
3 iPod charging blocks (and cables)
2 extra iPod/iPhone charging cables
multiple no-name, cheapo, dollar-store 30-pin charging cables

OK, I lied.. a couple of those dollar store cables failed, and I threw them away. But no problems with anything else.

Let us agree that there is a huge range of use/abuse scenarios including ambient weather conditions that contribute to wear and tear (humid climates, extreme cold, etc.)
Rating: 7 Votes
Posted: 9 months ago
But gold doesn't corrode.
Rating: 6 Votes
Posted: 9 months ago

It's amazing how people don't take care of their products, and go blame the manufacture when they break their things. Out of the 20 some OEM Apple USB cables and power adapters that I used over the last 10 years, none of them shows sign of fraying. Some power adapters eventually failed, but not from frayed cable.

Not saying Apple's products and peripherals don't ever fail, but frayed cables are usually the users' fault.


Lies. Every apple charger (and headphone cable) I've had since 2007 has broken or frayed at some point. This goes for Macbook, iOS device you name it. They're simply terrible. The only Apple cables I've not had to replace are the ones in static machines (iMac) and in my 2003 powerbook, of which has that 'ugly looking' anti fraying device shown on the black cable that someone posted above.
Rating: 5 Votes
Posted: 9 months ago

Lies. Every apple charger (and headphone cable) I've had since 2007 has broken or frayed at some point. This goes for Macbook, iOS device you name it. They're simply terrible. The only Apple cables I've not had to replace are the ones in static machines (iMac) and in my 2003 powerbook, of which has that 'ugly looking' anti fraying device shown on the black cable that someone posted above.


I've never had this happen to me and I've been using Apple products since 2003. Still use a FW cable to sync my 3G iPod. But I'm also sick of lending my cables out to friends and family that broke theirs!

But I am crazy careful with my own stuff.
Rating: 5 Votes

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