Apple Whips iPhone Users With Their Own Third-Party Cables
When working in an office, one can nary go a week without
hearing the mating call of the iPhone user: "Hey, does anyone have
a spare iPhone charger? Uh, no, the other one. The smaller one."
Because of its stubborn refusal to switch to the more universal micro-USB format -- the likes of which are standard on Android ( GOOG ), Windows ( MSFT ), and BlackBerry ( BBRY ) devices -- Apple ( AAPL ) continues to make the lives of drained iPhone users hellish and costly. For the privilege of using an Apple-certified cable and power adapter (sold separately, of course), iPhone users will pay an exorbitant and inexcusable $38, plus tax and shipping, just to charge their phones. (Multiple times, in fact, if they were users before and after the change to the Lightning dock connector , which rendered 30-pin dock connectors obsolete.)
Comparatively, an Android or Windows Phone user can fork over a couple bucks for a spare micro-USB charger, if they're not already tripping over them on their way to their junk drawer.
So it's no wonder many iPhone users have turned to the vastly cheaper third-party charging cables and adapters to power up their devices -- which, on average, still run about two or three times as much as a certified micro-USB charger. Unfortunately, many users have found that upon upgrading to iOS 7, their trusty third-party cables no longer work.
All thanks to yet another Apple money grub.
First seen in the developer preview of iOS 7, an onscreen message reads, "This cable or accessory is not certified and may not work reliably with this iPhone," when a third-party charger is connected. In the development stages, the pop-up served only as a toothless warning and iOS 7 still allowed the device to charge. However, since iOS 7 was made public, many are now discovering that they're the proud owners of a $16 piece of string.
The move comes soon after an incident in August wherein a 23-year-old woman was electrocuted when she answered her iPhone 5 while it was still charging. But because she was using a third-party charging cable that wasn't certified by Apple, Cupertino was given all the evidence it needed to be "wary" and "cautious" about third-party accessories, even if they worked safely and flawlessly for the wide majority of users up until that point.
In response, Apple then graciously launched a takeback program which supplied users official and Apple-certified power adapters (the kind that regularly gets one-star reviews for its unreliability) if they traded in their third-party equipment. And it would only cost them $10...on top of the $19 cable that wasn't included in the program. Making matters worse, as freelance writer Diane Bullock pointed out , the company's official power adapter that sells for $19 only costs $1.36 to produce, possibly less.
But the recent incompatibility with iOS 7 is the cherry atop this mess. It has absolutely nothing to do with unreliability or a fault with the equipment. It's simply because some third-party accessories don't have a special authenticator chip in the USB port that tells the iPhone, don't worry, Apple approved of this cable. It's all in the software.
So what are iPhone 5, 5S, and 5C users to do? There is one workaround that some folks have found success with:
- Turn on USB power.
- Plug in lightning cable to iPhone.
- Dismiss any warnings.
- Unlock your iPhone.
- Dismiss any remaining warnings.
- Now with the screen turned on, unplug the knock off lightning cable.
- Plug it back in.
- Dismiss warning again.
But considering users will have to do this every single time they want to charge their phones, they might consider that $38 worth the cost of convenience.
It really is shameless and disheartening that Apple has gone to these lengths to sell iPhone users its own overpriced accessories. The company should realize it's only a matter of time before an industrious third-party manufacturer learns how to bypass this safeguard to deliver yet another reliable and cost-effective iPhone charger that users can actually afford.
Actually, it probably does. And it'll block those, too.
And the money-grubbing cycle continues.
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Disclosure: Minyanville Studios, a division of Minyanville Media, has a business relationship with BlackBerry.