The best charging cable is the one that comes with your device (phone, tablet, laptop, camera, etc), but it is unlikely to be the smartest or most useful. It does the job but that’s about it.
Let’s face it – charging cables are boring… until you can’t find yours and your device has run out of battery power. Then it suddenly becomes a matter of life and death to find it.
Believe it or not, there are some actually rather brilliant charging cables out there. I won’t claim that they will change your life, but I do think you’ll quickly be telling friends and family how amazing they are. Also check out our best desktop and travel chargers.
Thankfully, some people think differently to the phone makers, and have designed cables that are better – they might have two connectors (Micro-USB and Lightning, for instance), be reversible to stop fiddly Micro-USB annoyance, super-short, super-long, or amazingly strong.
There are plenty of crazy-coloured and suspiciously cheap charging cables available online, but make sure it’s certified, as cheap cables can cause fire, death and mutilation. Apple iPhone and iPad users should look for MFI certification from Apple.
Hide the boring cables, and get yourself one or some of these!
If you’re looking for USB-C cables, see our round-up of the best USB-C cables here.
One of the most annoying things about cables is that seemingly every device requires a different one – and, significantly, not the one that you have in your hand.
iPhones need Apple’s proprietary Lightning cable, Android phones and other devices might use a Micro-USB, USB-C or some other cable with a weird-shaped connector. Every single Fitbit activity tracker has a different charging cable. How annoying is that?
We are rather fond of two charging cables from Tylt. The first is the Tylt Syncable-Duo, which you can use to charge and sync many different devices.
The smart thing about the Tylt Syncable Duo cable is that it has both a Micro-USB end and an Apple Lightning connector (MFi-certified by Apple so definitely legit).
The Micro-USB connector works exactly as you’d expect. To charge an iPhone all you need do is connect the Micro-USB connector into the back of the linked Lightning part when you need to charge your iPhone, iPad, etc.
So suddenly Apple users need just one cable – although this is so brilliant that you’ll probably want at least a couple around the house or office.
Depending on stock, these cables are available in bright colours like red and blue (and also black if you want to go traditional), so you shouldn’t lose them in that writhing snake nest of cables.
You can also choose from three lengths: 30cm (1 foot), 60cm or 1m.
The Tylt Syncable-Duo cable was our favourite-ever charging cable until we got our hands on the Tylt Flyp-Duo.
This 30cm cable works on the same basis as the Syncable-Duo, with both a Micro-USB connector and Lightning end. You simply connect the two to use the Apple Lightning, and disconnect to use the Micro-USB. Simple, and hugely useful.
But the Tylt Flyp-Duo goes one further – indeed its innovation is so amazing that “one further” just doesn’t do it justice.
You see, the Flyp-Duo has a USB connector like no other. It’s reversible. That’s right, unlike other USB connectors you can slot it in either way round.
Unless you’re statistically freakish it’s likely that a lot of the time you try to force the USB end into a plug or slot only to realise it’s the wrong way round. This is one of the main reasons humans can tut. But those days are over.
Handy? It’s flypping brilliant!
Just Mobile Micro USB and Lightning cable
Tylt isn’t the only smarty pants who worked out that one cable with two connectors is a great idea. Just Mobile thought the same with its Apple MFi-certified AluCable Duo, which like the Tylt cables features both a Micro-USB and an Apple Lightning connector.
It’s available in one colour only – black with cool aluminium, connectors – but it is available in a couple of lengths.
First there’s the 1.5m AluCable Deluxe ($24.95 from Amazon US but ships to the UK with import fees), and then an astronomical 1.8m Aluminum Cable Duo Twist (£24.90/$24.94) of thankfully coiled cable.
MicFlip Micro USB cable
It seems that Tylt and Tizi (see next) aren’t alone in thinking the one-way USB connector is a pain in the port.
The brains behind the MicFlip claims that it’s the “world’s first reversible Micro USB cable”. That’s right – they have engineered the fiddly Micro USB end to be reversible, too. It’s available in 20cm, 100cm and 200cm lengths. It’s not currently available in the US, unless you buy from eBay ($19.99).
We applaud anyone who makes our lives easier, and not having to worry about which way round to insert a USB cable is undeniably a game changer when it comes to cable efficiency.
If you’ve got used to Apple’s reversible Lightning connectors Micro USB can get on your nerves, always having to check which way round it gets stuck into to your device.
We have tested MicFlip 2.0, and it works as claimed. What’s even better, and why this one of our favourite micro USB cables, is that both ends are reversible: the usually fiddly micro USB end and the otherwise curse-worthy standard USB end. Perfect!
Now that everything is reversible we can move on to curing cancer and stopping climate change.
Equinux tizi Schlingel
You wait years for a USB cable that works both ways, and then along come three (see the next cable, too).
The Equinox Tizi Flip is a series of Micro USB and Lightning charging cables that feature a USB connector that will fit in a port either way. It’s so simple you have to wonder why we waited for so long. In fact it’s making me angry…
Tizi Flip cables (all black) are available in a variety of lengths, and clever shapes.
The Equinox Tizi Flip Schlingel Micro USB (£14.99/US$14.99) has the Flip USB and a standard Micro USB connector (what a shame that can’t also flip…). It links together to form a small chain, protecting the connectors, and measures about 14cm unfurled.
The Equinox Tizi Flip Schlingel Lightning has the Flip USB and an Apple Lightning connector, which of course can also flip either way. It’s available on Amazon US for US$29.99, though UK shoppers can have it shipped with additional fees.
It too links together to form a small chain and measures about 15cm stretched out. Is it more expensive than the Micro USB version because Apple users have bags more cash, or does Apple charge manufacturers a premium for its little connectors?
The more standard Equinox Tizi Flip Lightning (US$19.99) doesn’t fold up into a chain but still boasts the clever dual-fit USB. The 10cm version costs $14.99, 30cm costs $19.99, 2m version costs $24.99; and 3m costs $29.99. UK shoppers, again, can have the models with a Lightning connector shipped from the US.
Syncwire Unbreakcable microUSB Charging Cable
Another super-strong charging cable is the aptly named UNBREAKcable from Syncwire. The cable can endure being bent 90 degrees at least 30,000 times and can hold up 125kg. It can probably even pull drones from the sky and trip up tanks.
Well, maybe not that tough, but you’d have to be in a ridiculous situation to come close to breaking this cable, and that will likely mean it really is, for all intents and purposes, unbreakable.
It’s available in white and black. You can also buy a 1m Lightning cable from £7.49 from Amazon UK or $11.99 from Amazon.com.
Anker Nylon Braided MicroUSB Cable
Anker is a brand that’s gained a reputation for its affordable yet reliable charging products, including this micro-USB charging cable.
To start, it’s nylon braided, so you can expect durability. In fact, Anker promises the cable can withstand being bent over 4,000 times. Plus, the 24K gold plating prevents corrosion.
In terms of the performance, you can also expect high speed charging that’s up to 7% faster than other cables and a data transfer rate of up to 480Mbps with USB 2.0.
The only thing that could make it better is if it was reversible – but you do get two cables for less than a tenner, so we’re not complaining.
RavPower MicroUSB Charger
RavPower is another trusted brand with wares at affordable rates. This micro-USB charging cable isn’t braided or gold-plated like the Anker cable, but you do get five in a pack at four different sizes (1ft, 3ft x 2, 6ft, and 10ft).
It also promises fast charging at speeds up to 23% greater than other cables and data transfer rates up to 480Mbps in speed. You also get an 18-month warranty if you’re not fully satisfied.
Fuse Chicken Titan Micro USB cable
Cables get yanked, stretched, dropped, trodden on, and even bitten by pets and often children. Few get attacked with a chainsaw, but if one did you’d hope your cable of choice was a Titan cable from Fuse Chicken.
The Titan calls itself “the toughest cable on Earth”, and it’s hard to disagree.
It’s an industrial-grade cable that is wrapped in two layers of flexible, high-strength steel.
The USB connectors on Titan are permanently sealed with a one-piece housing fused directly over the electronics and metal cabling. Makers Fuse Chicken (yes, really) claim that it is “virtually indestructible” but we can’t think of many situations short of nuclear war that would even dent this thing.
On Amazon UK, you can also find it in a Loop version for Micro-USB for £12.95. There’s also a loop Lightning version (£24.95) and a normal length Lightning version (£29.95/$34.95) too.
In the meantime, you’d better steer clear of chainsaw-wielding maniacs.
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