What’s in a cable?!

mobile phone charger cable

Hey, listen, we all forget stuff – I forgot how old my Mom was on her birthday a few days ago (Feb 26), so I just put “Happy 35th birthday anniversary” and called it quits. Everyone laughed, and now I’m out of the will. So you’re sitting there now, reading this with only 9% battery left because you forgot to charge it last night, and you’re hoping one of your co-workers has a cable you can borrow, right? Well you’re in luck. Adam over there has a cable he picked up at the gas station for $2, and Marcus a few desks over has an official cable that came with his phone. Which one is the one you should use?

First, we need to understand what it is to be certified, and why it’s so important. A lot of engineering goes into cables – they’re not just strings of metal wrapped in rubber with an end that fits in your phone. Inside the little plastic “heads” of these cables are small circuit boards and resistors which help protect your data, protect your device from surges, and make sure the cable is operating at peak efficiency. Adam’s cable over there is so cheap because it likely doesn’t have any of those circuit boards in them, whereas Marcus’ cable does. Why does it matter?

On Google’s Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P and 5X devices released in 2016/17, their cables had what’s called a 56k ohm resistor built into it. It’s there not just to make the cable more expensive, because without it, unregulated current coming from an uncertified 3rd party charger, or from the USB ports on a Mac or Windows machine, could spike and cause the battery to begin rapidly combusting! Yes, your device could begin smoking and melting and even cause a small fire to form, which as we all know, can lead to other problems. Worst of all, because you were using an uncertified 3rd party cable/charging device, you have no warranty, and your insurance could even not honor their policy!

With most other Android and Apple devices, it’s a little less scary, as Apple devices can detect non-certified cables and refuse to charge or sync data all together. With Android devices, all cables will accept a charge and most will accept a data sync session, however Android limits the charge at the lowest setting which is usually 0.5v. This is known as “trickle charging”, and provides charging capabilities and data transfers but at a rate which could take a few hours to fully charge and sync your device.

So how do you know if what you’re buying/using is a high quality, certified cable? Easy! All Apple cables will say on them “Made For iPhone” (MFi). All USB-C cables for newer Android devices will say “Compliant C cable – 56k” or something similar. All Micro and Mini USB Cables for older Android devices won’t have identifiable characteristics, however they don’t require high current to charge so most any will be fine. If you’re still not sure, come visit us or give us a call. We sell Official and 3rd Party Certified cables, chargers and accessories.