This cheap Lightning-to-USB-C cable is better than Apple’s [Review]

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Anker PowerLine II USB-C Cable with Lightning Connector
There’s no reason to get Apple’s Lightning-to-USB-C cable when Anker’s is at least as good for less money.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Anker is taking pre-orders for a Lightning-to-USB-C cable that costs much less than Apple’s version. We tested this new accessory to see how quickly it can charge an iPhone to be sure it’s a reasonable copy and not just a cheap knockoff.

Read on to see how well the Anker Powerline II USB-C cable stood up to our tests.

Anker PowerLine II USB-C-to-Lightning cable review

The USB-A charger Apple ships with its phones offers a measly 5 watts, while the USB-A iPad charger offers 12 watts. But recent iOS devices can receive up to 18 watts of power if you use a USB-C charger.

Naturally, that requires a Lightning-to-USB-C cable. Apple used to be the only source for MFi Certified versions of this cable, but the company recently opened up the market. Anker is among the first to offer a truly reliable competitor to Apple’s accessory.

As a baseline for comparison, we charged an iPhone XS Max with the 5-watt charger and Lightning-to-USB-A cable that it came with. It took 22 minutes for the battery level to rise 10 percent.

Next, we connected the XS Max with the 18-watt USB-C charger that comes with the 2018 iPad Pro using Apple’s 1-meter Lightning-to-USB-C cable. This time, 22 minutes of charging raised the battery level 30 percent.

Then we used Anker’s PowerLine II Lightning-to-USB-C cable and the 18-watt iPad charger with the XS Max. In 22 minutes, the battery level went up 30 percent, the same as Apple’s cable.

Data connections worked equally well. Anker’s cable transferred images between a computer and the iPhone without issue.

Anker PowerLine II hardware

Anker’s PowerLine II USB-C Cable with Lightning Connector looks similar to Apple’s. The main difference is that Anker’s feels much more robust. It’s protected by a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) coating that the manufacturer says will endure 12,000 bends. (Anker offers a lifetime warranty to back up that claim.)

Anker’s Lightning-to-USB-C cable feels more rugged than Apple’s
Anker’s Lightning-to-USB-C cable feels more rugged than Apple’s.
Photo: Anker

This cable measures 5 feet 11 inches (1.8 meters). Apple offers 1-meter and 2-meter versions of its Lightning-to-USB-C cable, so Anker’s splits the difference.

The Lightning connector on the PowerLine II is actually made by Apple, which is one of the reasons it earned MFi certification.

Anker PowerLine II USB-C Cable with Lightning Connector final thoughts

Powering up your iPhone with a USB-C charger is much faster than using the wimpy 5-watt charger that comes with the device. And you can save some money on the necessary cable by getting the Anker PowerLine II, with no downside. Our tests show the Anker USB-C-to-Lightning cable performs at least as well as ones offered by Apple.

You’ll also want a Lightning-to-USB-C to connect your iPhone to a recent MacBook that uses this standard, either for charging or to exchange data.

Anker is taking pre-orders for its 1.8-meter PowerLine II cable now at $15.99. Apple’s 1-meter version costs $19, while its 2-meter cable runs $35.

Sure, you can get cheap knockoff cables for around $5, but they aren’t MFi-certified. The best that can be said about them is that they probably won’t damage your very expensive phone. Probably.

The PowerLine II USB-C Cable with Lightning Connector is scheduled to begin shipping on February 20. To sweeten the deal, Anker is offering 20 percent off its USB-C wall and car chargers for the rest of this month to anyone who orders this cable.

For fast charging, you’ll want a USB-C charger with at least 18 watts. Check out our recent Scosche PowerVolt charger review for another option.

Buy from: Anker

Anker provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more stuff we recommend.