Last year, I reviewed the Anker PowerLine+ USB to Lightning cord, and I was incredibly impressed. It costs less than the cord that Apple sells (or includes with an iPhone or iPad), and it is far more durable. Indeed, shortly after I purchased that cord, two of the Apple Lightning cords that some of my family members had been using started to fray near the ends. Rather than risk damage to their iPhones, those cords went right into the trash and I decided order some more Anker cords from Amazon. We got different colors for different family members to avoid confusion, and this also gave me an opportunity to compare the difference between the original version of the Anker PowerLine+ and the Anker PowerLine+ II.
The PowerLine+ I have been using for months seems incredibly durable. The nylon surrounding the cord protects the cord and makes it virtually impossible to knot the cord. And the plugs on the ends seem much more durable than the Apple Lightning cords — which always seem to be the spot where my Apple cords fray over time.
The PowerLine+ II cord also features nylon surrounding the cord, but it is just a hair thicker. And the plugs on the ends of the PowerLine+ II are a little bit larger and are more tapered than the PowerLine+ cord. In the following picture, the Lightning end of the PowerLine+ II is at the top, followed by the Lightning end of the PowerLine+, then the USB end of the PowerLine+ II, and at the bottom the USB end of the PowerLine+.
What difference does this make? Anker advertises the PowerLine+ as lasting 6 times longer than other (unspecified) Lightning cables with a 6,000+ bend lifespan. Anker advertises the PowerLine+ II as lasting 30 times longer than ordinary cables, able to withstand 30,000 bends. So apparently Anker believes that the PowerLine+ II is about five times more durable than the PowerLine+ cord. Anker says that both cords have a tensile strength that can support 175 pounds.
The PowerLine+ comes with an 18 month warranty, but the PowerLine+ II comes with a lifetime warranty. Anker's website says: "We're so confident in PowerLine+ II, we are offering a hassle-free replacement for all quality issues. Not for half a year, not for 18 months, but for an entire lifetime. It's the only cable you will ever need to buy."
I haven't tried to bend any of these cords 6,000 times, let alone 30,000 times. I have tried to see what is different between the cords, and I see a few minor differences. First, the nylon on the PowerLine+ II is thicker and feels a little softer than the PowerLine+. Second, if I bend the PowerLine+, the cord tends to keep the shape of the bend, but if I bend the PowerLine+ II, the cord doesn't keep the shape as much. I don't know if either of those two qualities has anything to do with durability.
I'm sure that the longer plugs on the PowerLine+ II are important for durability. Since that is a common point of failure for the Apple Lightning cords, I can understand that Anker would want to make them as strong as possible.
Speaking of the plugs, keep in mind that — as I noted in my prior review — the Lightning end of the Anker plugs are slightly larger than the Lightning end of Apple's cord. If you have an iPhone case with a tiny hole for the Lightning cord made precisely for the Apple cord, it is possible that the Anker plug will be too big. Otherwise, I doubt you will notice the difference.
The PowerLine+ cords come in four colors: gray, red, white and golden. I bought my original PowerLine+ cord for my car, and the dark gray color is a great match for my car's interior. My wife picked the red color for her cord, and the red does look really nice. Here are the gray and red colors:
The PowerLine+ II cords come in four colors: black, red, silver and golden. Here are the black, silver and golden colors:
The gray of the PowerLine+ is dark enough that it is only a shade lighter than the black of the PowerLine+ II. The following picture shows all five cords, with the gray PowerLine+ at the top and the black PowerLine+ II in the middle:
One big difference between the two products is that the PowerLine+ comes with a felt pouch that folds over, whereas the PowerLine+ II comes with a nicer zippered pouch. Here is the felt pouch for the PowerLine+:
Here is the pouch of the PowerLine+ II, the 3 foot version on the left, and the slightly larger 6 foot version on the right:
With both cases, you can wind up the cord inside of the case to make the part of the cords that come out of each side just the length that you need. This works with the leather pouch because both ends are open; this works with the zippered pouch because it has zippers at both ends.
I think that most people would prefer the zippered pouch because it zips completely closed. Both cases give you someplace to store the cord when you are not using it, but the PowerLine+ II version seems like a nicer case to toss into your purse, briefcase, luggage, etc.
Typically, the PowerLine+ II cord costs $1 or $2 more than the same length PowerLine+ cord. But this isn't always true.
You can buy these cords in 1 foot, 3 foot, 6 foot and 10 foot lengths. The cost for the PowerLine+ versions are $12.99, $14.99, $16.99 and $17.99. For the same length versions of the PowerLine+ II, the prices are $13.99, $15.99, $17.99 and $19.99. But those prices can vary, both on Amazon and the Anker website.
Also, if you like the red color, the PowerLine+ can be even cheaper than the PowerLine+ II because Anker offers a two-pack: two 3 foot cords for $19.99, or two 6 foot cords for $21.99. And even if you just want a single red cord, as I type this, the 3 foot red cord is currently $13.99 ($1 cheaper) on Amazon and $11.99 on Anker's website. I don't know if red is always cheaper or if there are other times in which another color is cheaper.
If you decide that you are ready to get a high-quality Lightning cable, these nylon-coated Anker cables get my very highest recommendation. If you find that for the price and color that you want, the PowerLine+ II version is only $1 or $2 more, you might as well get the PowerLine+ II version. Even to my eyes, the II version appears to be a little more durable, and Anker apparently thinks the difference is enough to offer the lifetime warranty with the II version. Plus, the case is much nicer with the II version, which is something that you will appreciate right away.
But if you find that the price difference is more substantial, opting for the PowerLine+ version is still a fine choice. When I purchased my new cords, I took advantage of the discount on the red PowerLine+ two-pack, which meant that I spent $11 on each red 6 foot cord versus $16 for a red PowerLine+ II version. I'd make that same decision again. For me, the nicer case and the increase in durability for a product that is already very durable isn't worth another $5 for each red cord.
Here are links to the sizes and prices I'm seeing on Amazon right now:
PowerLine+ 1 foot ($12.99)
PowerLine+ II 1 foot ($13.99)
PowerLine+ 3 foot red two-pack ($19.99)
PowerLine+ II 3 foot ($15.99)
PowerLine+ 6 foot ($16.99)
PowerLine+ 6 foot red two-pack ($21.99)
PowerLine+ II 6 foot ($17.99)
PowerLine+ 10 foot ($17.99)
PowerLine+ II 10 foot ($19.99)