1st Gen Apple Lightning Cable Meltdown – What’s the Cause?


An OEM Apple Lightning cable meltdown; caught before it could get any worse

I noticed the smell before I saw the smoke: I looked to my right, and that’s where I saw the problem — tiny sparks and a rapidly melting sheath near the end of the Apple cable that was charging my iPhone 5S. I immediately unplugged it before flames took over; crisis averted, but why did it happen?

Here are the facts:

  • I was using a first generation Lightning cable that had come with either my iPhone 5 or iPad mini
  • The Lightning cable was plugged into an iPhone 5S
  • The Lightning cable was being powered from an ANKER 40W 5V / 8A 5 port USB Desktop Charger which was charging the iPhone 5 and other devices

Although I haven’t completely ruled it out, I don’t think the meltdown was the ANKER USB charger’s fault; I have a couple of other OEM and non-OEM cables connected to other devices that were plugged into it before, during, and after the meltdown, and none of them have had any issues. In fact, my iPhone is currently charging from the ANKER using the JustMobile AluCable I recently reviewed, and it is working perfectly fine.

Googling “Apple lightning cable melted” brings up plenty of articles and support questions from others who have experienced the same. Some of the meltdowns happened when the Lightning cable was plugged into a laptop or desktop computer, plugged into the iPad mini charger, plugged into a car charger, or when plugged into the OEM Apple iPhone 5 charger. Actually, because there are so many reports of OEM iPhone Lightning cables melting, it looks like this could be a pretty common problem.

The good news is that based on what I’ve read online, I should be able to get my Lightning cable exchanged for free at an Apple store; the bad news is that this seems to be a common issue, and I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if I hadn’t been sitting right next to my iPhone when the cable decided to begin its meltdown.

Have you had any issues with your Lightning cables melting or catching on fire? So far, I’ve had more problems with this particular type connector than I’ve ever had with any other. Unfortunately, this is a problem that could have resulted in my house burning down and that is simply unacceptable.

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct smaller.com; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

5 Comments on "1st Gen Apple Lightning Cable Meltdown – What’s the Cause?"

  1. I don’t know about the melting, but at our house these things wear out at an *incredible* rate. I buy them in batches of three, just so we don’t run out. It’s nuts.

  2. I was saying the same thing to Dan and Judie earlier today … and here I was blaming the kids …

  3. Just wait until you have one snap off inside a device; that’s when the party really starts. =P

  4. I had one melt down connected in my truck. I saw a spark and smelled it burning! The wire was extremely hot! I cannot seem to keep any working for very long.

  5. Two years + later and it STILL is happening. Just happened to me. Why can’t Apple make cables that last a year??

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