Whether you want a cord that’s cheap enough to lose without despairing or a cord worthy of the other objets d’art on your desk, GQ‘s Best Stuff has you covered with all the best charging solutions.
Unlike every other phone (and every other headphone), Apple uses a Lightning connection for charging and sending data to your iPhone. It seems like just yesterday—six years ago!—that people were ready to march on Washington when Apple moved from a 30-pin connector to Lightning, but here we are. You probably have a couple cords by now, and you’ve probably known the deep, deep disappointment of leaving one behind on a vacation and holding your tongue as someone at the Apple store swipes your card for $29.99.
Apple’s Lightning cables are far more expensive than the micro-USB cables used in everything else. They also used to be your only option to charge your iPhone because all the third-party options were junk. They frayed easily. They didn’t always connect to your computer. They felt janky, wobbling when you plugged them in and resisting when you pulled them out. And the cheapest of them charged so slowly you were better off using a hand crank and an Apple cord.
Times have changed. You’re no longer compromising by exploring the world outside Apple. In fact, these cables all offer something extra the Apple ones don’t. You’ve got different designs, different colors, and different lengths, all at different prices. (Yes, some even cost more than the Apple ones.) Our favorites are durable, charge at full power, and have warranties that protect you against any potential fraying. So whether you’re looking for a cheaper cable or a chainsaw-proof one, we’ve got you covered.
The Best Cheaper Charging Cable
Anker PowerLine II 3ft Lightning cable
At just $11.99, this is the perfect cord for someone who thinks, “I want the same cord that came with my phone, but cheaper.” It’s three feet long, durable, and comes in black, white, blue and red. It’s Apple MFi certification means it’s fully compatible, and its lifetime warranty means the only time this cord will let you down is when you eventually lose it. (Maybe get the red one.) There are cheaper cables out there, but you’ll pay for those twice when they fall apart.
The Best Designed Charging Cable
Native Union Lightning Cable Collection
There are a few competitors making cables with more interesting designs, but none who do it as well as Native Union, whose woven nylon patterns look nice, but are minimal enough that you won’t get tired of it after using it every day. We especially like this 3-piece collection, as it’s got the three types of cables you need: a short keychain cable for USB plugins on the go, a classic 4 foot cable with an integrated leather belt to keep things tidy, and an ultra-long 10 footer with a knot near the end that keeps it from sliding off your desk when your phone isn’t attached. I’d had a Native Union cable a few years ago with fraying and connection issues, but had no trouble with these improved ones—and a lifetime limited warranty helps, too.
$70, Native Union
The Best Indestructible Charging Cord
Fuse Chicken Titan+ Lightning Cable 1.5M
Fuse Chicken’s cords are coated in stainless steel and over prepared for whatever you’d throw at them. They say it can resist a chainsaw, which I was not given the budget to test, but it does feel like a cord that will last forever. I could pass it down to my grandchildren, but they’ll probably have no idea what a charging cable is. And sure, it’s nice to have an indestructible cord, but I also liked having a cord so sturdy that could hold itself up, not unlike a snake. Did I look like the laziest person in the world watching videos on my phone while the cord held it up next to me on my couch? Sure. Will I stop doing so? No.
The Best Long Charging Cable
Anker PowerLine II 10ft Lightning Cable
This cable is a part of Anker’s PowerLine II collection, but it’s 10 feet long. The nylon braid adds a nice touch, but otherwise, it’s the same cable at a length (and price) that makes it an easy pick for your couchside charger. Which, if you don’t have one, you’re missing out. Get a couchside charger, and never leave your home at 48% battery again.