iPhone5mod, a Chinese company specializing in tricked out accessories for iPhones, claimed it has successfully tested “cracked” Lightning controller chips. The supposed chips “bypass” the authentication functions such controllers purportedly provide. This should be good news to third-party manufacturers that aim to produce budget replacement cables, as it may be possible to produce Lightning-compatible accessories without paying in to Apple’s MFi licensing program. This news could potentially even get those accessories on the market in time for the holidays.
Manufacturers feared Apple would use tight licensing restrictions to limit who could produce “official” Lightning cables and accessories, and those fears appear to be validated by changes to the MFi (“Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod”) Program. Apple reportedly plans to only allow certain OEMs to produce Lightning connectors and the associated controller chips that help dynamically reassign the connector pinouts. And Apple doesn’t plan to share complete information about those changes until November, which would be too late for many manufacturers to design, test, manufacture, and ship products in time for the busy holiday shopping season.
While iPhone5mod is currently building a dock and cable combination using what it says are official Apple chips, it also claims to have used “cracked” chips from an unnamed Chinese supplier that work just as well. Apple has required officially licensed 30-pin Dock connector accessories to include an authentication chip, though some manufacturers have attempted to work around it to varying degrees of success. According to iPhone5mod, it should now be possible to do the same with Lightning-based accessories—at least until Apple finds a way to block such unlicensed devices.
Currently, Apple remains the only source of official Lightning cables and adapters, though supply has been constrained throughout October.