Every iPhone user likely has had one Lighting cable fray of 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.
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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. The image below demonstrates how it works.
Apple is also concerned with how far a cable can bend. It defines a minimum bend radius as "the smallest radius at which the cable can be bent without a kink" where "the minimum bend radius might be e.g., eight to twelve times the cable diameter."
Granted, these are all patents, so there's a chance that none of these designs could ever reach consumers. And considering that rumors suggest the iPhone 13 could be portless, that's more reason for Apple to skip innovating on cables and go straight to wireless charging.
Still, it's unlikely that MacBooks would go portless anytime in the near future, or ever. So an upgraded cable would be a welcome addition for anyone who's constantly on the go. Let's hope that when Apple does release an improved cable design, it ships with the upcoming MacBook Pro with M1X.
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Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.