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How to Tell the Difference Between a Genuine and Fake Lightning Cable



You just bought a new iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c, and it’s your first upgrade to the new iPhones since they introduced the new Lightning connector (or it’s your first iPhone ever!). In that case, you now have to replace all of your 30-pin USB cables with new Lightning cables, and if you buy all of your extra cables directly through Apple, it’s not going to be cheap.

Apple charges $20 for a regular three-foot long USB Lightning cable, so if you bought three extra cables — one for your car, your travel bag and your office at work — that’s $60 right there. So, you might be looking into alternatives. Amazon sells its own Lightning cables under its “AmazonBasics” brand for $14 each; that’s still not cheap by any means, but it beats paying $20.

The only problem with the Amazon variant is that the plastic around the connector is chunkier than Apple’s version, which means that if you have a case on your iPhone (like I do), the Amazon cables won’t fit. Thus, you’re forced to use Apple’s own cables in order to get something that fits.

Which Lighting cable is genuine? It's hard to tell at first glace..

Which Lighting cable is genuine? It’s hard to tell at first glace..

With that said, I was forced to get Apple’s genuine OEM Lightning cables, but I wasn’t willing to shell out $20 a piece for them, so I went hunting on eBay in the hopes of finding someone getting rid of their Lightning cables because they switched to Android. I was aware that eBay was full of Chinese ripoffs that claimed to be genuine Lightning cables, but I found a listing that was selling “genuine” cables for around $11 a piece and was located inside the US. They were probably still fakes, but I pulled the trigger anyway, with the plan that I would file a complaint and get a refund if they were, indeed, fakes.

Indeed, the cables were fakes, but I decided to take the time and see what exactly the differences were between the fake and genuine Lightning cables. Obviously, the chips and circuitry inside are different, and the Chinese ripoff cables don’t have the genuine chips on the inside that correctly control the flow of the charge, but you can’t see that with the naked eye. With that said, here are some tips to check whether a Lightning cable is genuine or not.

The Lightning Connector

At first glance, a fake and genuine Lightning cable look almost identical, but the differences lie in the details. Up close, there are several key differences between the fake and genuine Lightning connector that tells you right off the bat which one is the real, genuine cable and which one is the knockoff.


The clearest difference is that the genuine Lightning cable on the right has the white piece perfectly rounded in the corners, while the fake one on the left is squared off somewhat. Furthermore, the entire metal piece of the genuine connector is one single metal piece, while the knockoff is made out of several metal pieces pressed together. The knockoff version is also slightly longer than the genuine version.

The USB Plug

On the USB plug end of the cables, the white plastic pieces are practically identical to one another, which can make it difficult to differentiate the two just by glancing at it. However, just like with the Lightning connector end, the differences lie in the details.


The only difference on the USB plug is a pretty big one. The genuine one is on the right, with the knockoff one on the left. The knockoff’s metal USB connector is a lot more grainy than the genuine one, which is perfectly smooth. This most likely has something to do with the type of metal that the USB plugs are made out of; it’s more than likely that the knockoff cable uses a cheaper metal or manufacturing process to make the plug, thus leaving a rough, grainy surface to the metal.

Serial Number and Text

So, just by looking at both ends of the cable, you can clearly deduce which cable is the genuine one and which one is the knockoff. However, this one seals the deal. Every Apple Lightning cable comes with a serial number and text that reads, “Designed by Apple in California, Assembled in China.” Obviously, to make sure that knockoffs are as accurate as possible, they also include that same text and a serial number.


However, as you can see from the photo above, the style and shade of the text are vastly different. The genuine cable is on the bottom and the knockoff cable is on the top. If you know the font that Apple uses on all of its products, then you can tell that the bottom one is the genuine cable. The top one sports a different font that Apple doesn’t use, as well as a darker shade of gray.

So, the next time you go out and buy a cable, look for these signs to make sure you’re buying a real, genuine Apple Lightning cable. Of course, going straight to an Apple Store or ordering one on Apple’s website will guarantee that you get a real Lightning cable, but if you’re wanting to save a little cash, you’ll definitely want to be cautious when you go out hunting for deals.



  1. Jacksmith

    10/06/2013 at 4:07 am

    Thanks for sharing this. We could now really differentiate while buying or if the merchant is cheating us.

    • arman ali

      06/12/2014 at 10:38 am

      Sorry I meant to say the writing does in fact come in different shades of grey. So the above information is incorrect. I have a few iPhone 5s and 5c devices all came with an original lightning cable and each cable has a different font shade of grey.

    • jimtron11

      10/30/2016 at 11:08 pm

      I bought what I eventually discovered to be a counterfeit cord/adapter on Ebay from a seller named SUKAR, and my Ipad was fried after the second use! $499 Ipad Air destroyed! I called/emailed Ebay, their fraud department, their general email, did everything I could think of, even sent them messages on Twitter, but they still haven’t done anything. I didn’t read the writing on the adapter which read “Designed in california Assembled in china (note the Cs in California and China were mis-spelled using a lower-case c for both). The lettering and symbols is also much more faint compared to the slightly larger, more bold ink on the genuine Apple Cord and Adapter. I would advise everyone to bite the bullet and pay the $40 or $50 that these cost at the Apple Store, because at least it won’t ruin your Ipad, Ipad or Iphone like the counterfeit did my Ipad Air II. SUKAR, the seller just creates duplicate listings so that the warnings that I and other users post, is essentially deleted, and Ebay doesn’t care even though I’ve advised them that fake chargers can detroy expensive property and cause fires! I sent them pictures of the fake and the genuine products side by side, again, they did nothing. The Ebay listing in case you were thinking about buying a cord and or an adapter from Ebay:

      You’ve been warned, and Ebay and the seller both refused to even discuss re-paying me for the Ipad, though I received a refund from the seller, even though he didn’t even ask me to send it back (which stuck me as telling).

  2. John Matthew

    10/06/2013 at 1:44 pm

    In my area, there are lot of Chinese suppliers that are selling these lightening cables for $1 and $2, and even for the original price. But I always found out difficult to choose between real and the fake one. Thanks on this!

  3. Larry

    10/06/2013 at 2:21 pm

    Ya great info there Craig eBay there are lots of fakes or aftermarket cables etc

  4. Joe

    10/20/2013 at 3:13 pm

    Another difference is the length. I have one I just got for about the same price as yours, it is nearly identical to the original, but the length is different. It also lacks the Apple design and serial number.

  5. hakeem

    12/20/2013 at 6:16 am

    thanks so much for this info !!!!

  6. Dawn

    01/25/2014 at 3:17 pm

    Great information. I have 3 cables that don’t work. 2 are fake and 1 is apple. All 3 cables had soldered wires broken off the lightning connector.

  7. Chong

    01/27/2014 at 11:10 pm

    the original cable that came with my iphone 5 doesn’t have any text/serial on the cable.

    • Chong

      01/27/2014 at 11:17 pm

      my bad. just checked again and saw the text/serial.

  8. Shikha

    04/03/2014 at 10:54 pm

    What about the inside of the cable. Have you cut open to see the difference between the original and the fake one? Would appreciate, thanks

  9. arman ali

    06/12/2014 at 10:30 am

    The information on the writing text is incorrect. Is does in fact come in different fonts shades of black. I have a few iPhone 5s and 5c devices all which came with an Original lightning cable, and the writing is in different fonts shades of black.

  10. Peter Leyland

    07/16/2014 at 3:40 am

    More interesting surely would be to know what difference there is in operation. Some leads certainly appear to be better manufactured than those of Apple eg VEO

  11. Tandin

    08/12/2014 at 3:20 am

    Thank you so much.

  12. Ruthjtoney

    08/30/2015 at 10:56 pm

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  13. Navjot

    02/23/2016 at 6:29 pm

    I don’t know how to find original data cable .its surprise me how to find it. But I tell you chinies is chinies they built fake cable .you not found its real or fake ..

  14. Nyssa Aislinn

    08/23/2016 at 7:45 pm

    Is there any good brand of iphone charger that came original too and cheaper price than apple?? thanks in advance

  15. alinaamel

    11/08/2017 at 10:38 pm

    thanks for the useful post
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