Phone charging cords get a lot of use. So, do budget cords last as long as the pricier ones?
Consumer Reports took a close look at low-priced charging cords sold at retailers like Amazon, Five Below, and Walmart to see how well they stack up against cords sold by Apple and Samsung.
CR bought seven cords in all, ranging in price from $4.88 to $29, and found the best of the bunch could last you more than six years, while the worst ones may not last you six months.
CR’s experts estimate that we all bend or twist our charging cords in some way about five times a day.
Using that number, they calculated how many bends and twists each cable would have to endure to last for a year and a half.
First, using a motorized rig, they repeatedly bent one end of each cord into a 90-degree angle until it stopped working. In the second test, the rig twisted each cord more than 2,500 times.
All the cords passed the twist test, but only two passed the bend test. The cords that did the worst lasted fewer than 800 bends.
The ByTech USB-C cord from Five Below died before 710 bends, while Lightning cords from Amazon Basics and Walmart’s Onn brand both stopped working before 796 bends.
But Walmart’s Onn USB-C cord did better, hanging on for close to 1,656 bends.
Those that did the best were Apple’s Lightning cord for iPhones 5 through 14 and the Amazon Basics USB-C cord for the iPhone 15, Android phones, laptops, and tablets.
Both survived 11,500 bends, which means they could last more than six years.
The bottom line is you can’t always rely on brand, price, or things like thickness to guide you when buying a charging cord.
That’s because both the $29 Apple cord and the $6.55 Amazon Basics cord did the best in CR’s tests and because Apple’s thin Lightning cord outperformed thicker ones.