The Battle of Smartphone Cables: USB Type C vs. Apple Lightning

The Battle of Smartphone Cables: USB Type C vs. Apple Lightning

Today, even if there are cloud data backups as well as wireless charging available for our smart phones, cables are nowhere near obsolete. Cables are still being widely used in terms of charging, data transfer, and data management.


A few years ago, iOS users experienced a change in their connectors. Before that, the cables for iOS users were flat and wide 30-pin dock connectors. The cables then transitioned to a more compact connector which is now the Apple Lightning.


As for the smart phone users, there is also a huge migration in using the USB Type C. In this post, we will look at the differences of the USB Type C and the Apple Lightning cables. We will compare the cables’ longevity, feature set, and their other important aspects to see the similarities and differences between these two.

The First in the Game

Apple certainly gets the glory when it comes to being the first one to shift into a new design with the cables with smaller connectors. They were also the ones who first marketed a reversible plug cable to their users. Apple was able to design a connector that got rid of the problems of the typical USB that can only be plugged in one direction.

Lessons Learned from the USB

There was a lot to learn from the USB and the Micro USB in terms of use and design. Soon, Windows and Android smart phones will be using the USB Type C. As for size, the USB Type C is not any smaller than the Micro USB. However, it has a standard port that can be used for both computers and phones. With the USB Type C, any side of the cable can be used. The same goes for the orientation; it can be plugged in any way.

Cable Design

Both the USB Type C and the Apple Lighting are reversible. However, they are different in the design of the cable and on how they can be connected to another device. The USB Type C is the same as the Micro USB at that the cables are connected to the pins that are in your phone’s port. With Apple Lighting cables, the pins are exposed and the ports on iPhones and iPads are just the holders.

Cable Longevity and Durability

Between the USB Type C and the Apple Lighting, there is a difference on where the damage can happen. With the USB Type C, its design protects the connectors and the pins of the cables. However, durability may be an issue when it comes to the tab in the device.


For Apple Lightning, issues may arise with the exposed pins getting dirty or the wiring getting damaged. But the good thing is that there is less likelihood that any stress on the cable itself will lead to damage with the phone port.

Power & Data Management

Both the Apple Lighting and the USB Type C can support big features. However, it depends on the manufacturers whether or not they will support those specs. What we know right now is that the Apple Lighting can certainly hold higher amperage and wattage since that is the demand of the iPads’ big batteries. Still, Apple manufactures iPhones with 1 amp chargers. Another thing is that iPhones don’t take advantage of the USB 3.0 data speeds fully.


With the USB Type C, it can support the USB 3.1’s full bandwidth with up to a data transfer rate of 10Gbps. There are phones though such as the OnePlus Two that supports only the USB 2 with data transfer speed of up to 480Mbps. As for power management, there won’t be an issue with the cable since it has a feature that can support charging laptops. This goes the same for tablet and phone charging features.


These are just some of the differences between the USB Type C and the Apple Lighting cables. The two are surely an improvement over the previous designs. There was much to learn from the USB and the Micro USB cables and these two new cables are able to address the design flaws of the previous generation of cables.

The question now is if there will be a standard cable that can cross between brands and types and be the one true universal cable. This might be a long stretch but who knows. In the end, maybe we won’t be needing cables at all with wireless charging being already available. Still, the quest for better and stronger designs continues.

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