It appears iPhone 5 users looking to pick up a spare Lightning cable will have no choice but to pony up the $19 for one made by Apple (AAPL). Unlike the old 30-pin connector, it has been discovered by Double Helix Cables and AppleInsider that Apple’s new smaller cable has a special authentication chip embedded inside of it that prevents third-parties from duplicating it and making generic clones. In simple terms: don’t even bother picking up a cheaper knockoff Lightning cable because it probably won’t work.
In an email sent to AppleInsider, Double Helix Cables’ owner, who only goes by the first name Peter, noted that “you can’t just build a Lightning cable by making something with the same shape and connectivity, and my teardown proves that. The chip has to be there, and it is directly in the signal path of the V+ wire.”
The situation probably wouldn’t be as dire if shipping times for Apple’s official Lightning cable weren’t backlogged for up three weeks.