Until the arrival of the iPhone 11 Pro models this year, Apple’s iPhones have used the same charging and sync cables since the company first switched to the Lightning connector back in 2012 — a three-foot cable with a Lightning connector on one end and a USB-A connector on the other.
For years, this cable, and even the 30-pin Dock Connector cable that came before it, were accompanied by a little square five-watt USB-A charging adapter. Even after Apple’s iPhones gained support for faster 10-watt (2.1A) charging with the iPhone 6, Apple persisted on including only the slower five-watt (1A) adapter, and this continued with the 2017 iPhone 8 and iPhone X models that added ultra-fast USB-C PD charging.
While the five-watt adapter was arguably enough for most users who simply plug in their iPhones overnight — and slower charging is better for the battery too — it meant that those who wanted to take advantage of the faster charging capabilities offered by the newer iPhones had to go out and purchase their own adapters, and in the case of the iPhone X series models, a USB-C to Lightning cable as well in order to take advantage of the ultra-fast charging speeds.
After two years of rumours that Apple was going to include higher-speed USB-C charging adapters and cables in its newer iPhones, it finally relented this year, shipping an 18-watt USB-C adapter and the standard Apple USB-C to Lightning cable in the box with its higher-end iPhone 11 Pro models.
The standard iPhone 11 on the other hand still ships with the same five-watt USB-A adapter and Lightning cable that’s been included with every other iPhone for the past seven years. It seems that Apple is using USB-C to distinguish its “Pro” devices — directly in the case of the 2018 iPad Pro, which ditched the Lightning port entirely, and with cables and adapters not only for its iPhone 11 Pro, but even for the AirPods Pro, which surprisingly also ship with a USB-C to Lightning cable.
However, in a surprising twist for a company as meticulous as Apple, it appears that seven years of shipping hundreds of millions of iPhones with USB-A to Lightning cables may be confusing its supply chain. According to a new report by Slovakian Apple blog Svetapple.sk, at least one Apple customer opened up his iPhone 11 Pro Max to find that it mistakenly included the older USB-A to Lightning cable.
Michal, a reader of Svetapple.sk, wrote in to share his experience, noting that while everything in the box was packed the way it should have been, when he dug into the accessories compartment, he discovered a Lightning cable with a USB-A end on it, rather than the expected USB-C.
To make matters more complicated, Apple had included the correct 18-watt USB-C charger, which actually meant that Michal had no way of charging his new iPhone without finding another USB-A power source.
As Svetapple points out, the mistake was most likely made in the Chinese production line where the iPhones are packaged, and since the iPhone 11 still includes the older USB-A to Lightning cable, it’s easy to imagine how one could have been accidentally thrown into an iPhone 11 Pro Max box.
While one would assume that the packaging areas for the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro should be separate, this might not be the case; after all, this is the first time in the history of the iPhone that Apple’s manufacturing partners have had to deal with differences in what accessories get packaged with each model. For over a decade, every current iPhone received the exact same cables, power adapters, and other accessories. Further, the USB-A and USB-C versions of the Lightning cable are similar enough at a glance that it wouldn’t be impossible for one to have accidentally gotten mixed into the wrong container.
Svetapple notes that Michal has already contacted the store where he bought the iPhone, which will hopefully be able to make the situation right for him, however this should be a cautionary tale to check your accessories closely and make sure you have the correct cable if you’re buying a new iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max, and it might be a good idea to open it and check before you even leave the store.