Why Apple’s New Lightning Cables Could Be Dangerous, But Also Why I’m Stupid


Keep stuff off your cables. Especially Lightning cables.

E. has an important tip for Apple customers, though it’s pretty self-evident: keep vinyl bags off the chargers for your electronic devices, or terrible things can happen. Like the charger short-circuiting and melting the plastic bag that you happen to have resting on the end of the cable. At least, that’s what happened to E. with one of Apple’s new Lightning cables, which seems especially susceptible to this kind of impressive gadget carnage.

E: explains how this problem came to be:

I would just like to let you know that there could be a potential fire hazard with the new Lightning charging cables.

Earlier, I was sitting in front of my computer, mindlessly surfing the Internet, until I realized that I need to upload some new albums to my iPod Touch 5G, as well as charging it.

The connector was on the floor, plugged into the AC USB charger. The tip of the connector was, by the way, covered with a blue vinyl bag. Yes, I know, that is dumb. I should have noticed it sitting on top of the adapter.

When I yanked the cable away from the cable and towards me, I caught the tip with my hand and the sucker was BURNING. I immediately let it go and then came the unmistakable scent of burning plastic.

Unlike many other connectors, including micro and mini USB, as well as the original 30-pin Apple connector, all of which have their pins located inside the metal tip casing, Lightning has them placed externally around the tip, which means that it’s a potential liability for short-circuits.

That’s most likely what had happened with my connector. Granted, it’s idiotic of me to have something placed on top of a connector carrying electrical current, but c’mon–I am wondering which genius thought it would be a great design to leave the pins all exposed and unprotected like that.

For people who might be wondering if the damage would have resulted from it being a cheap Chinese knock-off, the cable actually came with the iPod Touch. So, no, it’s 100% genuine.

Upon inspecting the connector, now covered with melted vinyl around it, there was a hole which was burned through in middle of the connector casing, exposing the internals. If you see the photo (sorry about the poor quality) you will see it.

I have not contacted Apple about the issue, yet. I am actually not sure if I should, to be honest, since the damage was caused by my neglect, but it still stemmed down from a potential design flaw.

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