review: Anker Powerline Lightning Cables

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After the failure of my last attempt to find a quality lightning cable, I mentioned I’d be reviewing these cables “in the next eight months”: Well, apparently I was bang on the money, because after using these cables every day for the better part of a year, I feel I’m ready to talk about why, whilst I’m not the biggest fan, I will be buying more of these!

I actually ordered these cables a few weeks before I started writing that review, the moment the Blitzwolf cables started showing signs of wear. Amazon tells me I ordered a 1ft cable for £6.49, and a 6ft cable for £7.99. The first foot is the expensive bit, apparently! The 1ft cable was destined for my pocket, to use along with my power bank, and the six-foot monster would end up by my bed for charging overnight.

Note: these are the original Anker Powerline, not the PowerLine+ or the new PowerLine II.

The cables arrived neatly packaged, along with some little hook-and-loop cable ties which I promptly managed to lose. I don’t particularly like velcro ties: They add bulk to one end of a cable and attract every hair within a two-mile radius, which is even more of a problem when you live with a dog!

As I mentioned in the last review, I have two main criteria for evaluating a lightning cable:

  • Durability: A cable should be able to hit the six-to-eight month mark without any visible wear and tear.
  • Power Delivery: Any cable I use should be capable of delivering the full 2.1A drawn by my iPhone 6S and iPad Air with no complaints.

On reciept I was very impressed with the “fit and finish” of these cables. They’re minimal and simple: No braids to fray, just a pair of quality connectors on a quality-feeling cable. I was, somewhat skeptical of Anker’s strain relief (foreshadowing!!), but I was nonetheless pleased with the cables I had bought. The longer cable was relatively thick (to help supply the full USB current with minimal losses over the distance required), whilst Anker used a thinner, more flexible cable for the shorter unit: I think I would have preferred the thicker cable for both, however I think making the shorter cable more flexible is a smart idea considering how much more abuse it’ll recieve.

Anker’s USB chargers are well-regarded by critics so it makes sense their cables should be up to snuff when it comes to delivering power. I hooked up both to an Apple 10W charger and an iPad Air 2 via a small USB current meter (made by UNI-T, available on Banggood - great little tool!) and discovered both devices could easily pull the full current - Not a surprise at all.

The tiny cable ended up being my favourite of the two: It’s been living in my pocket along with the little silver power bank (that I’ve still not gotten round to reviewing), and it’s kept my phone and iPad topped up.

Now, about that strain relief: About four months into owning these cables, I did notice the longer cable getting a little softer right where the cable entered the connectors. I’ve had these cables twice that time and they’re still going strong (touch wood!) but it certainly does diminish the premium feel of the things and it suggests that these cables may also have a “shelf life” - if/when they fail, I will certainly update this post. Anker seem to know this is a problem and the new Powerline 2 cables seem to have more robust strain relief - I’ll touch on this in a future post.

the verdict

Whilst the weirdness around the device-side connector is concerning, the cables have survived being used day-to-day for eight months and I’d be absolutely comfortable buying more. They’re well-built, they feel nice, and the aesthetics are delightfully understated (although you can get them in some pretty bright colours these days). In fact, I did buy a few more not too long ago, along with one of Anker’s new 10ft Powerline 2 cables - Watch out for a mini-review of the latter sometime very soon!

Would I recommend you buy these cables? Yes.