What is MFi Certified
MFi stands for “Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad”. It is Apple’s official licensing program for developers of hardware and software that work with Apple’s iPod, iPad and iPhone. The program covers headphone jack, original dock connector and AirPlay support. Companies joining the MFi program and passing certification tests are able to display certain MFi-related logos on their product packaging.
While it has always been preferable to use MFi cables, the introduction of the Lightning cable made it even more important.
Inside each lightning connector is a tiny authentication chip that tells your device it’s Apple MFI Certified. If your Lightning cable does not contain this chip, the cable will often not sync your data or even charge your device. You will usually get a warning message on your screen indicating that the cable is not authorized and may not work properly.
Of greater concern is that a non-MFi certified cables can get extremely hot and cause damage to your phone or worse.
We have purchased our share of Lightning cables, some of which were labeled as MFi certified, only to discover upon our first use, that they were not. Others worked for a very short period of time and then suddenly stopped working.
While there are some ways to distinguish a certified cable from a non-certified cable based on close inspection, it is often hard to tell, and certainly not from a picture on a web site.
You can’t even be sure a cable is certified based on where you buy it. It was recently discovered that Amazon was selling their own MFi Lightning cables, manufactured for them by a third party and advertised as certified under the MFi program. After an investigation by Apple it was discovered that those products were not certified. In fact, it was estimated that 90% of the MFi Lightning cables sold on Amazon were counterfeit. Amazon and Apple are working to gether to remove those cables from the Amazon site.
The MFi Lightning Cable
Most Lightning cables we have seen are copies of the actual Apple Lightning cable design. They have the same white plastic casing and the same plastic housing around the connectors. While we have never had an official Apple Lightning cable fail, we have had some of them get damaged as a result of heavy use. Mostly at the cable ends.
There are also several third party variations on the original Apple OEM design including different colors and the use of a flat cable instead of round. In the end, most of the cables are very similar in design.
The Paracable Differnce
While all MFi Lightning cables should work the same, we were intrigued by the unique design of the Paracable line. We first discovered Paracable when we were doing research for this article. Unlike most of the cables we looked at, Paracable Lightning cables are wrapped in paracord.
Paracord is a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope originally used in the suspension lines of parachutes. It is known for its light weight to high strength ratio and its overall durability.
The Paracord exterior gives a nice feel to the Lightning cable. Paracords are significantly thicker than the Apple OEM Lightning cables but we think it feels substantial and you get the sense that this is a durable cord that will stand up to almost any form of punishment.
But the Paracord Lightning cable is more than just a pretty exterior. Like most MFi cables, what’s on the inside is just as important as what’s on the outside.
As you can see in the diagram above, the Paracable is well constructed. Underneath the attractive outer nylon casing is a flexible polymer jacket to provide insulation to the inner components of the cable. Inside of that is a durable copper mesh jacket to provide strength and protection to the inner workings of the Lightning cable along with an EMF (Electromagnetic Field) Shield to avoid interference and signal loss.
Paracable offers five different styles of Lightning cables. They all share the same construction and quality and are all 5 ft. long. The only difference is the color combinations of the exterior paracord wrapping.
Like the paracord outer wrapping, the strain relief is the same on all cables except that the color complements the paracord color scheme.
Paracable Lightning Cable – Test Results
We tested two versions of the Paracable Lightning cable, the Matrix and the Continuum.
Both cables performed equally well. We used a variety of methods to charge our iPhone 7 including the USB port on our MacBook Pro, the standard iPhone power adapter, the larger iPad power adapter and our Belkin Power Rockstar 1000 (read our review here). The Paracable Lightning cable worked equally well in all situations.
When connected to the MacBook Pro, the iPhone 7 not only charged but iTunes opened and synced the iPhone. We also had no problem transferring photos from the iPhone to the Photos app. By all measures, the Paracable Lightning cable performed the same as the Apple OEM cable.
We were also pleased to see that the Lightning end of the Paracable had no problem fitting into the iPhone 7, even with a variety of Moshi cases (read our review here) we tried. While we can’t confirm that the Paracable will accommodate every case made, we think there is a good chance it will work on most.
We also liked the extra length that the Paracable has. Although our 1 meter (3 feet) Apple Cable meets our needs, the extra length makes it just a little easier to pick up our iPhone when it is tethered to a computer or charger. We think you will also appreciate the extra length the next time you are in an airport or hotel room, which never seems to have an electrical outlet in an easily accessible location.
Each Paracable Lightning cable comes individually packed in a re-sealable plastic bag. For people who tend to carry a lot of cables and accessories when they travel, we thought this was a nice touch and is one way to not only stay a little more organized but also protect the cable from getting tangled with whatever else is in your bag.
Given the heavier exterior paracord wrapper, we found that the Paracable Lightning cable did not tangle at all. We can’t say the same for the Apple OEM cable. That alone could tend to make the cable last longer.
The Bottom Line
Overall, we really like the Paracable Lightning cable. While the various colors are a matter of personal choice, the overall construction seems solid and they worked flawlessly in every situation we tested them in.
We think that anyone who carries a cable with them on a regular basis would be well served by any of the Paracable models without fear of them tearing or breaking from heavy use.
All of the Paracable Lightning cable come with a 30 day money back guarantee and a 1 year warranty against manufacturer’s defects. They have a MSRP of $28.00. That may seem more expensive than the Apple OEM cables that retail for $19.99 but remember that these cable are 50% longer than the Apple OEM cable (1.5 m vs. 1m), so the cost of the Paracable is actually less per foot given the extra length.
All of the Paracable Lightning cables are available directly from the Paracable web site which offered free shipping if you order two or more cables (International shipping is just $6.00), and they are also available from Amazon.
We would like to thank the folks at Paracable for providing us with Lightning cables for this review.
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