Apple working on Lightning cable that will last longer

Apple has filed a patent for a new cable design that will be less prone to fraying over extended periods of use.

Spotted first by Apple Insider, the patent describes a solution which specifically addresses the weak points at the ends of its cables.

“It is well known that bending of the cable near the termination point may cause unwanted strain on the wire connections, which may lead to cable failure,” Apple stated.

It goes on to explain that a common approach to this problem is to provide a “strain relief sleeve” made of a stiff material around the end region of the cable.

“The stiff material creates a localized increase in the bending resistance of the cable, thereby relieving strain on the wire connections,” it stated.

However, in addition to making the cable stiffer, the strain relief sleeve also makes the cable thicker at the ends. “In some instances, the added thickness may not be desired,” Apple said.

The new patent combines the “strain relief” element and an overall thicker cable with various layers of cable boasting different levels of stiffness along certain sections.

This comprises the following:

  • First longitudinal section having a stiffness corresponding to a flexible cable.
  • Second longitudinal section having a stiffness corresponding to a rigid cable.
  • Third longitudinal section between the first and second with balanced stiffness.

Despite the different stiffness levels, the outer sleeve will still have a uniform thickness, Apple said.

The image below shows the proposed design of the cable with the combination of layers and the protective sleeve.


Cable reputation

Apple’s Lightning charging cables for smartphones have a notorious reputation for not lasting very long.

It previously tried to address this by introducing slightly thicker cables, but this has created an issue with the cables not fitting through certain third-party iPhone accessories.

When reports first surfaced that Apple would remove the charging brick from its iPhone 12 box, there were rumours that it would be replacing the standard charging cable with a stronger, braided variant shipped with its Mac products.

However, this was not to be, and the iPhone 12 box only came with Apple’s standard Lightning to USB-C cable.

Now read: Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Apple iPhone 12

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Apple working on Lightning cable that will last longer