Saturday, December 22, 2012

Adapters for the Apple Lightning connector (iPhone 5, iPad mini, iPad 4)

I really like my iPhone 5, but I admit that I'm still annoyed by the new Lightning connector. Although it's a superior connector, I still have many peripherals that use the old 30-pin connector. Plus, I have a few older iPods that I continue to use. An iPod will last a really long time if you take care of it (and last even longer if you replace the battery in it).

I also have some external battery packs that have a built-in 30-pin connector instead of a standard USB port. When I travel, I often take these with me so that I can keep my iPhone powered up.

Well, Apple has several Lightning adapters for people who have older iPods and peripherals. The following products can be found at the Apple Store:
  • Lightning to 30-pin Adapter: This is short and stocky. It's about an inch wide and an inch tall. I don't recommend this one because it may not work if your iPhone 5 is in a case. The base is too wide to fit into the bottom of most iPhone 5 cases. Priced at $29, it's the mid-range among these 3 adapters. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple redesigns this one so that it's narrow at the top and wide at the base. That would eliminate the problem with phone cases blocking the connector. 
  • Lightning to 30-pin Adapter (0.2 m cable): This is actually a short cable adapter and it runs $39. This is the most expensive adapter (I guess Apple knew it would be the most practical one). The tip is the same size as the standard Lightning connector, so you won't have any problems connecting your iPhone if it's in a case. This is the adapter I would recommend if you have a Bose SoundDock speaker system so that you can attach larger devices like an iPad.  
  • Lightning to Micro USB Adapter: This one is only $19, so it's the least expensive one of the three. It's the one I would recommend if you travel since so many people have micro-USB cables laying around. My Bluetooth headset charges via micro-USB and one of my external battery packs also charges via micro-USB. This little adapter may be easy to lose. 
  • Lightning to VGA Adapter and Lightning Digital AV Adapter: If you need to project your iPhone or iPad screen onto a larger display or projector, these are the adapters you'll need. $49 each. 
So far, most of the 3rd party adapters have been problematic because the Apple Lightning connector has a built-in security chip. Plus, the quality of the connector has to be high in order for the connector to work reversibly. Some generic 3rd party adapters have been reported to only work in one direction. Others simply don't work because they lack the security chip.

If you buy a non-Apple adapter, I would recommend going with a reputable brand like Griffin Technology, Kensington, Belkin, or Targus. In fact, Griffin Technology has recently released a series of Lightning connector USB cables, car chargers, and more. 

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