USB-to-Lightning cords are incredibly useful for users of Apple mobile products because they can be used to charge your iPhone, iPad, AirPods, and other devices such as Apple keyboards. And even though Apple includes these cords with many devices, it is always annoying when you need one but cannot find one, so it is a good idea to keep extra cords at home, work, your briefcase or purse, etc. For many years I have stuck with Lightning cords made by Apple because I had heard reports of folks having problems with cheaper Lightning cords made by fly-by-night companies. But recently I have heard great reports about cables made by Anker, a company known for many other useful products. I wanted a new cord to keep in my car (for use with Apple CarPlay) so I purchased an Anker PowerLine+ USB to Lightning cord from Amazon. I've been very happy with the cable so far, and I can recommend the product, both for you to use yourself and to give as a great gift to anyone else who uses an iPhone or iPad.
It was important to me to have a good quality cord. I certainly don't want my devices damaged by a short caused by a cheaply-made product. Fortunately, Anker has a great reputation, and so it is a company that I trust to make a good product. Earlier this year, Nick Statt of The Verge wrote an interesting profile of Anker, explaining how the company was founded by a former Google engineer.
A few years ago, I reviewed the Anker PowerPort 6, and I continue to use that fantastic device every single time I travel because it lets me use a single cord running to an outlet to charge six different devices. If I was getting a new one today, I would get the USB Type-C model of the PowerPort, which includes one USB-C port for fast charging of an iPad or iPhone X plus four other ports that can be used for any device.
In light of all of this, I felt good about trusting Anker to make a reliable product, the same way that I trust Apple to make a reliable product.
Although Anker also makes "normal" Lightning cords, I was attracted to the PowerLine+ version, a cord featuring double-braided nylon to make the cord more durable. The braided nylon also makes it virtually impossible to knot this cord, so I haven't had any problem with this cord getting tangled.
The braided nylon also protects the cord if you bend it. I have had numerous Apple cords split at a point where the cord was often bent. I really don't think that type of damage would be possible with the PowerLine+ cord.
The plug ends of the PowerLine+ are also built to be far more durable then the ends of cords made by Apple and other companies. You can easily feel in your hands how the Anker USB and Lightning plugs are far more sturdy than the ones on Apple's cords.
I haven't used the PowerLine+ long enough to give you a definitive report on how it wears over time, but Anker says that PowerLine+ cords are six times more durable than other Lightning cables.
I would be willing to pay more for a high-quality, durable Lightning cord, but Anker's products are actually less expensive than Apple's. I purchased the six-foot cord for my car because I wanted the flexibility of having something long enough for my kids to occasionally use my iPhone while they are in the backseat to select music while the iPhone is connected to CarPlay in the front of my car. The 6' cord is roughly 1.8m, so close to the same size as Apple's 2m USB-to-Lightning cord. But while Apple's cord costs $29, the Anker 6' cord is currently selling on Amazon for only $16.99.
Anker also sells a three foot version, roughly similar in size to Apple's 1m Lightning cord. While Apple's 1m cord costs $19.00, the Anker 3' cord costs only $14.99 on Amazon, or better yet you can pay only $19.99 for a two-pack of the Anker 3' cords. If you want to have the freedom that comes with a really long cord, Anker also sells a ten foot version on Amazon for $17.99.
While I generally don't mind the iconic white color that Apple uses with its cords, I have to admit that a white cord looked a little out of place in my car with its dark interior. The PowerLine+ cords come in various colors. I got the gray version, which does a far better job matching the interior of my car. The cords also come in gold, red, and white.
If you find that you often "lose" your Lightning cord because someone else borrows it or picks it up by mistake, you might want to consider getting the red or gold model. It will stand out, and others are unlikely to confuse it for their own cord.
The plug at the Lightning end of the PowerLine+ is only a tiny bit larger than the plug on the similar Apple Lightning cord. Most folks will never notice the difference. However, if you are using a case for your iPhone which has a very small hole, made only big enough to work with the Apple cord, it is possible that the Anker cord won't fit. I've never used a case like this for an iPhone, but I've seen other folks use them, so if this applies to you it is something for you to consider.
The three foot and the six foot models of the PowerLine+ come with a felt pouch which you could use to hold the entire cord, or which you can use to adjust cable length. Just wind up the cable and slide it through the strap in the middle of the pouch. Then close the pouch with the Lightning end coming out one side and the USB end coming out the other side. Magnets in the pouch hold the cover closed. This way, you can charge when you are very close to the charger without having lots of extra cord getting in the way.
I haven't decided how much I'll use this pouch in the future, but it was a nice touch for Anker to include it, and shows that Anker is trying to go above and beyond what you get from other companies.
While I really like the PowerLine+ model with the double-braided nylon cord, Anker makes other cables with more traditional cords, and they are even less expensive. For example, if you want a three foot size, you can get the PowerLine for only $9.99 on Amazon, or the PowerLine II (with lifetime warranty if it ever breaks) for $11.99 on Amazon. I haven't tried those models, but I presume that they are also good quality cords.
The Anker PowerLine+ Lightning cord works great. It is cheaper than the Apple Lightning cord and yet it seems to be much more durable. I like the color and feel of the double-braided nylon cord, and I like knowing that this cord should hold up fine even if it gets a lot of use. And because I'm sure that many iPhone users have never used a cord like this, I think it is actually a great gift idea, now that the holidays are around the corner.