Review: Budget Lightning cables from iSmooth (Updated)

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 20th, 2013, 11:02
Category: Accessory, Consumer Electronics, Hardware, Opinion, Review

LIGHTNING2MCABLEMAIN_mediumBefore I upgraded from my iPhone 4S to the new 5S, I wanted to be prepared. Unlike previous iPhone upgrades, I had to deal with the switch from the 30-pin to the Lightning connector which was introduced with the iPhone 5. Over the years I had collected a stash of chargers and cables as well as accessories, such as the Mophie Juicepack, which I had grown dependent on, and now had to replace. Not an inexpensive endeavor, especially with Apple’s premium price for replacement Lightning cables ($19-$29). Not expecting to find anything, at least not of great quality, I hit Amazon.com to see if there were some cheaper alternatives. After some exhaustive reading of reviews, I settled on cables made by iSmooth.

There were a few mixed reviews, but over all positive, which was telling considering that the reviews on the Apple Store for Apple’s cables were not very good. So, I ordered a few different lengths, which by itself was a huge selling point. They have cables in 3, 6, and 9 foot lengths. The packaging is basically a small, plastic envelope which is very simple, tidy, and Apple-like. The cable itself is nearly identical to the ones Apple supplies, so much so that comparing them side-by-side, I really couldn’t tell them apart. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if both came from the same manufacturer. A few people on Amazon reported getting DOA cables, but iSmooth replaced them right away. And that is the best part, iSmooth has excellent product support. Not only that, but their cables carry a 10-YEAR GUARANTEE! That’s pretty amazing considering Apple will probably change the connector two more times before the warranty runs out. They also have an excellent policy where if you really like the cables and give them a 5-star review on Amazon, they will send you a free cable of your choice. Shhhh…don’t tell them, but they accidentally sent me two! That, or they really liked my extensive review, which pretty much mirrors what I have said here. So far every cable has worked fine, and I am am really satisfied. Oh, I almost forgot the iSmooth prices…EVERY length of USB to Lightning cable…$13.97. Crazy. Take that Apple! (jk)

UPDATE:

Well, this is a bummer to report. Yesterday I bought one of the new Retina iPad minis and sadly, the iSmooth cables will not charge the device. The cables still work fine for syncing to iTunes, but at least for now, you will need a genuine Apple Lightning cable handy for charging the mini’s battery. It would be interesting to find out whether this affects the iPad Air as well. Perhaps Apple has tweaked the Lightning spec or hardware to thwart third party cable manufacturers.

Recent Posts

9 Responses to “Review: Budget Lightning cables from iSmooth (Updated)”

  1. I find it humorous to see phrases such as “after some exhaustive reading of reviews” from readers. It begs the question of what makes the reviewer or the writer an expert? What expertise do they really have. As an engineer (and former engineering professor), I have learned a long time ago to take such comments for what they are: subjective evaluations often proffered in exchange for something (free cables in this case). Please, stick to the facts!

    I too have purchased Lightening cables and adaptors from Amazon, generally with positive results. In iOS 7 I now get the occasional Message “This cable or accessory is not certified and may not work reliably with this iPhone (iPad)”. Most recently, I have received two sets of Lightening cables from iTechDeals (listed on DealMac) for $5.99 for three cables. These units are priced well, work fine and will be discarded when they fail! A far cry from the mentioned bargain of $13.97/cable — for less, I have received and have been using six of them!

  2. Really? this is on the powerpage? it’s paid advertising if you received a product for a positive review.
    You should call it that.
    What’s that sound I hear? The powerpage credibiity crashing to the ground.
    BTW monoprice had them on sale for 10$ with a coupon code.

  3. Your cynicism is duly noted. Perhaps “exhaustive” is a subjective term, but I did read well over 50 Amazon reviews for each product I considered in order to determine the overall customer satisfaction and any problems noted. For me, that was an exhaustive process, as in ‘it took a lot of time and effort’ on my part until I was convinced it was worth a try. I did not claim exhaustive testing or a technical analysis as I do not have the facilities for that. I have also not claimed to be an expert, and a review is in essence, an opinion based on usage, however I have been in the IT field for 20 years if that puts it into perspective. As this review was my opinion, everything I have said ‘is’ a fact, as everything I have stated in the review represents my experience. If you want hard technical facts, I recommend going to iFixit.com. Please also note that I paid for the original cables and had used them for several weeks before submitting my Amazon review. You may assume that my integrity is lacking if you must, but I assure you that if I had not found the product worthy of a good review, I would not have done so. Also, as it happens, I did not find out about the free cable until after my review was submitted. If you wish to read it, you can find it here http://www.amazon.com/review/R2Q97MBJ9T87E0

    Wolf, as a professor and engineer, I would have expected you to know the correct way to spell “Lightning”, but we aren’t all perfect.

    A question put to you, if I did not find the cable of good quality, why would I even want another free one? We do appreciate that you have brought to light information regarding even less expensive cables since it may be very useful for our readers. I do not, however, believe this information benefitted from adding accusations regarding my personal, and the PowerPage’s, journalistic ethics. Personally, I’d rather pay a little more and have a reliable cable that lasts, rather than cluttering up landfills with disposable cables made of non-recyclable materials. I provided this review with the intention of helping people find an alternative to Apple’s high priced cables, not for personal gain or benefit. I was not handed a cable and told to “write an amazing review on the PowerPage”. I’m sorry you thought that, and you find no value in my experience and opinion, but that does not mean it is not valuable to others. Perhaps you should stick to the “facts”. See what I did there?

    We at the PowerPage encourage discussion on all the articles we provide, but we prefer the absence of mud-slinging. Thank you for submitting your thoughts and concerns. I will keep them in mind for future reviews.

    This comment brought to you by the makers of (insert product here)™

  4. After going through 4 budget cables which never last more than 5 weeks each, including one which burnt a small hole on the lightning connector, I gave up, and just bought a couple of Apple cables.

  5. Eric, were these iSmooth cables? If not, can you mention which manufacturers made the bad cables? This is why I liked the iSmooth cables. The $3-$8 ones you can get on Amazon, for example, have a notably short lifespan. The iSmooth cables are a good compromise with near Apple quality for almost half the price. By the time you’ve paid for 4 budget cables that fail, you’ve paid the cost of 1 quality cable.

  6. Any cable thats not MFI or from Apple is going to get
    blocked if its a lightning cable. The oem cables like the one you
    bought spoof codes in the chip on the cable. You should know better
    writing this article. If you want legitimate MFI cables that are
    cheap then go to http://www.monoprice.com. They have cables from 11-13$
    depending on the length. Amazon also sells their own MFI cables
    under the amazonbasics brand.
    http://www.monoprice.com/Category?c_id=112&cp_id=11213&cs_id=1083101
    http://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Lightning-Cable-Feet-Meter/dp/B00B3OA7R8/

  7. MAB has a point if it’s not MFi you are only asking for problems, as were referenced earlier. These third party accessories that don’t comply with Apple specifications and guidelines are only going to bring grief and heartache. Trust me, that grief isn’t worth any small savings you might realize. You get what you pay for.

  8. The cables were various no name cables I bought from different shops at different times. All went bad pretty quickly.

  9. Who would have thought that the subject of cables would elicit such confrontational responses? I offered an alternative for people and I do not understand why so many people have a problem with that. Your cable suggestions are just as valid as mine, however, I would like to know how you determined that the Amazon cables are MFI as I went to the product page and could not find any mention of it. The Monoprice cables do state they are MFI compliant, but many of the customer reviews remark that the quality is not very good and they don’t last very long, so it could be a trade off. Any cable you buy that isn’t sold by Apple carries a risk, MFI or not, so you have to consider what is more important to you. I chose to risk trying a third party option and have been very satisfied with the outcome.

    When I was looking for cables, I did look at the AmazonBasics cable, but many reviewers said that the Lightning end was too big for many cases (which I use), so I elected to pass on them in favor of the iSmooth cables since they closely resembled the Apple cables. As an additional update, I did contact iSmooth about this and they replied back that they were updating their cables to correct the problem and offered to exchange my cables for new ones. I sent in one and they quickly mailed out a replacement which now works fine with my Retina iPad mini. So far, the company’s customer support has been very responsive and accommodating to any problems I have had, so I will stand by my recommendation of their products.