The situation of different connectors for each phone brand may have improved since the 2000s, but Apple remains a hold-out of not signing up to the MicroUSB or USB-C standard – and that makes borrowing charging cables a pain. Luckily, there’s a new “Magic cable” that will fit both Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector and the widespread MicroUSB connector – no more need to carry multiple cables.
We were never a fan of Apple’s decision to create its own unique “Lightning” connector standard to replace its 30-pin dock connector rather than join the rest of the world with MicroUSB or lead the world towards USB-C. But their decision to make more cash by licensing chargers, cables, and periphery devices was not a surprise – you don’t become the richest company in the world by playing nice with others, and Apple prizes money over user experience and compatibility.
If you have and Android smartphone and an iPad like me, then you have to carry two cables with you every time you travel – it is annoying as hell. So when Gadjet got in touch to say they have a new cable that fits both MicroUSB and Lightning connectors I was very keen to try it out.
The cable itself is 1.2m in length and made with hardy braided nylon, so it is designed to last. On one end is a standard USB-A connector that can be plugged into most laptops or wall chargers, but the clever bit is at the other. The second end of the cable looks a lot like a Lightning connector at first glance, but the eight pins are only on one side – a difference that will become important.
When plugging the cable into a MicroUSB port on my Sony Xperia Z5, it only fits one way round, so it is pretty easy to know you have it the right way around (which is pins on top for the Z5) – and the cable works perfectly for both charging and data transfer.
It is slightly more problematic to work out the right way round to put the cable into an iPhone or iPad’s lightning port as it fits both ways. When testing it first appeared to me that the cable wasn’t working properly with my iPad, as when I plugged it in I got a message saying that “This cable or accessory is not certified and may not work correctly with this iPad”. It turns out that I just had the cable in the wrong way round, as once I turned it around (to pins facing downwards) then it charged and transferred data perfectly.
It was less than 12 months ago that an IndieGogo campaign raised over $100,000 for a cable that had a lightning connector clip-on to go over the MicroUSB connector. To me, that never felt like a good enough fix for Apple’s love of proprietary connections, but the Magic cable we tested here is finally a real solution to the problem – and it has become a mainstay of my weekend bag.
At the time of review, a 1.2m Magic cable was on sale for £9.99 from Gadjet.