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posted by Fnord666 on Friday February 05 2021, @06:34PM   Printer-friendly

Apple may finally fix its flimsy iPhone charger cables:

Every iPhone user likely has had one Lighting cable fray [on] them. It's been an annoying issue, and one that's driven third-party sellers to create braided cables that can withstand more abuse.

It seems that Apple is at the very least researching ways to make its cables more resilient. According to a patent filing first noticed by AppleInsider, Apple has been working on a "cable with variable stiffness" that gets thicker toward the ports.

Lightning cables are known for having thick connector points. It's what Apple internally refers to as the strain relief sleeve. While the ends of Apple cables are meant to keep the cable from fraying, often those areas become pressure and kink points. Apple acknowledged as much in its patent filing.

"In addition to making the cable locally stiffer, the strain relief sleeve also makes the cable thicker at the ends. In some instances, the added thickness may not be desired," the patent filing reads.

To get around this, Apple is essentially designing a cable that has denser material toward the ends that tapers off. [...]

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  • (Score: 3, Touché) by JoeMerchant on Friday February 05 2021, @11:07PM (5 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday February 05 2021, @11:07PM (#1109446)

    I thought just this when my fanboi boss trashed his MacBookPro mag-lock power cable within less than a year of ownership. So I tried, I mean really really tried to baby mine and see just how long I could get it to last. 18 months for me. Mind you, Dell, Sony, Acer, and many other laptops I have owned I have NEVER had a power inlet cable fray or go non-functional on me. I think I had one inlet crack its connection to the inside PCB, but that's like one of 30 laptops I've had over the years. The mouse I'm using right now is 8 years old - daily use, no strain relief issues whatsoever.

    When we brought our iPad One into the Apple store to replace its faulty proprietary cable, the applespurt gave us a big speech about how "3rd party cables are really low quality - see here how your cable is made differently than the one I'm handing you?" "Well, dude, not really because this iPad has only been used inside our home since it came new out of the sealed by Apple box, we've never bought a replacement cable, and, frankly, the $30 white string of shit you are selling me looks EXACTLY like the one we've been using, but as you are a resident Genius I know better than to even try to tell you anything." Not to worry, a few months later Apple pushed a basically mandatory iOS update that hobbled the iPad One to the point of non-usability. Nice thing to do to an $800 device just a few years old, thanks guys - I think I know how much I'm going to be locking into your eco-system in the future.

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  • (Score: 2) by helel on Saturday February 06 2021, @04:03AM (1 child)

    by helel (2949) on Saturday February 06 2021, @04:03AM (#1109504)

    Laptops have been around for about forty years. You've had thirty of them. That would put the average lifespan at 16 months if you bought the Compass 1101 when it came out. It sounds like the real problem is the Mac just plain lasted too long, compared to the other machines you've used.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday February 06 2021, @04:28AM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday February 06 2021, @04:28AM (#1109509)

      I've been using laptops since they had black on grey LCD screens, and that was only 27 years ago.

      30 laptops, 2 stacked on my desk to my left at the moment both roughly 4 years old, a third downstairs that's 8. My wife is still using a cast-off I bought 10 years ago as a backup to her daily driver. Then I've got a couple in the dresser drawer aged 11 and 13 that still work but are hopelessly outdated. That's 6 on hand at the moment. Oh, and 3 more that I prepped for a production line at work - they're 2016 models, so 9 at the moment.

      That 2006 MacBookPro ran (with a power cord replacement after 18 months) until around 2008 before it started having GPU overheat issues, apparently there was a large percentage of that production run where the assembly line wasn't putting the thermal paste on correctly. I limped it along until about 2010 doing various things with it that didn't mind if the screen would go black unexpectedly before giving up on it entirely. It is the absolute shortest lived laptop I have owned in the last 20 years.

      Corporate environments tend to cycle the official company imaged laptops every 3 years or so, I've stretched mine at this job to 2 in the last 8 years partly because my boss gave me a non-corporate imaged workstation laptop that we can actually do development work on - while the corporate imaged ones are necessary for various company focused functions they are hopelessly nerfed when trying to install dev environments and particularly alternate OSs.

      As for the 20 laptops before that... I remember them going obsolete inside a year through most of the '90s, would typically have two or three at a time in simultaneous use, had one stolen from a supposedly secure lab - that was my all-time favorite one: power brick inside, 110 cord plugged straight into the laptop, really pissed me off. The death of many/most older laptops was when the batteries wouldn't hold a charge anymore, and the cost of a replacement battery was 80% of a new superior laptop... oh, that reminds me: those 2006 MacBookPros, they also had mushrooming battery problems - virtually all of them inside 18 months. The batteries were replaced under warranty - once - and then they did it again, more slowly the 2nd time so I guess they were improving the process, but still toward the end I was running my GPU-defekt MBP with no battery because the 2nd one also blew up until it didn't fit in the case anymore. Sure, all laptop batteries die, I even had one other get scary hot after its management system freaked out, but that was another uniquely fruity experience: to have the mushroom transformation in combination with scary temperatures.

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  • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Saturday February 06 2021, @10:57AM (1 child)

    by PiMuNu (3823) on Saturday February 06 2021, @10:57AM (#1109591)

    Anecdotal: I had two Dell power supply cables die on me lasting about a year each.

    (I ran through a couple of Thinkpads about the time IBM sold out to Lenovo, then IT did a deal with Dell and they became required - but I have been pretty not impressed by Dell).

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday February 06 2021, @02:37PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday February 06 2021, @02:37PM (#1109644)

      Dell is not my favorite... hell, I don't really have a favorite other than that Sharp that they don't make anymore - nor anything like it. None are infallible, but Apple cables? That's like a Tesla MCU - designed to wear out on a schedule rather than even attempting to follow some well known, cheap and easy practices that would extend MTBF 10x or more.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 07 2021, @03:59AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 07 2021, @03:59AM (#1109871)

    I thought just this when my fanboi boss trashed his MacBookPro mag-lock power cable within less than a year of ownership. So I tried, I mean really really tried to baby mine and see just how long I could get it to last. 18 months for me.

    Mine is still unfrayed and working fine after 11+ years. But I wound some tape around the cable right at the start. It's ugly but I'm not a "true apple fanboi" who cares about how stuff looks. I was assigned the macbook pro by my workplace.

    I also don't go out of my way to arrange or untangle the cable - I usually leave the cable the way it ends up. In contrast I notice a co-worker winding his cables and doing "cable management" stuff regularly. For example, when packing up his laptop he'll wind the cables up and then put the stuff in his bag. And his cables fail often. Whereas I'll just put the cables in my bag without changing the cable arrangement.

    No surprise all this winding stuff wears out the cables: [] []

    I'll untangle the cable if it gets too tangled up. But my definition of too tangled is more related to function than looks, so I only do it once every year or even few years. I seldom need the full length of the cable after all.