Apple’s Latest Patent Could Make Frayed Lightning Cables Thing of the Past

BY Mahit Huilgol

Published 4 Feb 2021

Fraying lightning cable has literally become an integral part of iPhone ownership. Until now, the fraying lightning cable is a recurring problem with no solution at sight. Apple is said to be working on a braided lightning cable. Whats more interesting is that the company is working on “Cable with Variable Stiffness.”

Apple’s latest patent mentions a cable, and we presume it talks about charging cable in general. Furthermore, if the patent sees day of light, it might solve the fraying connector problem. The patent admits “It is well known that bending of the cable near the termination point may cause unwanted strain on the wire connections, which may lead to cable failure.”

The patent also mentions “Accordingly, it is common to provide a strain relief sleeve made of a stiff material around the end region of the cable.” In other words, Apple lists out the downsides of the current lightning connector and a series of solution for addressing the issue. The stiff material is designed to “create a localized increase in the bending resistance of the cable, thereby relieving strain on the wire connections.”

Above solution works well. However, it comes with a very evident downside. The thickness of the lightning connector increases due to the sleeve, which might interfere with third party accessories. Previously, Apple had introduced a thicker Lightning cable with increased resilience to damage. However, it didn’t fit into iPhone stands and cases.

Apple’s latest idea combines strain relief idea and extra thickening of cables. The patent says “A cable can include a cable core surrounded by an outer sleeve having a uniform thickness.” It uses cable sleeve of varied stiffness. For instance, the first longitudinal section offers a different stiffness level than the second longitudinal section.

The bend radius is defined as the “smallest radius at which the cable can be bent without a kink.” Bending radius can be increased to 8 to 12 times the radius of the cable.

[via USPTO]