Curated for the Inquisitive Mind


Which Cable and Power Adapter Does My iPhone Need?

Key Takeaways

  • Determine your iPhone model to know which charging cable and power adapter to buy. Different iPhone models have different charging ports.
  • USB-C cables are newer and more universal, allowing you to charge multiple devices with one cable. Lightning to USB-C cables charge iPhones faster than Lightning to USB-A cables.
  • Purchase official Apple accessories or MFi-certified ones to ensure safety and avoid potential damage to your iPhone that could void its warranty. Avoid cheap third-party accessories.

There are a few types of charging cables and power adapters for iPhones. So, if you’re confused by the different names and wondering which is the correct one for your iPhone, this is the guide for you.

In general, you need both a charging cable and a power adapter to charge your iPhone. One end of the cable connects to your iPhone’s charging port, the other end connects to the power adapter, and the power adapter needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet. So, let’s look at the correct cable and power adapter you need to buy for your iPhone.

What Cable Do I Need to Charge My iPhone?

There are mainly four types of iPhone charging cables:

  • USB-C to USB-C
  • Lightning to USB-C
  • Lightning to USB-A
  • 30-pin to USB-A

To determine which cable type you need, you need to find out what iPhone model you have first. This is because different iPhone models may have different charging ports.

Below, we look into each cable type and provide a list of iPhone models that use it. After identifying the cable type, you can later proceed to match it to the correct power adapter.

USB-C to USB-C Cable

apple white usb-c to usb-c cable

At the time of writing, only the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro models use the USB-C to USB-C cable. It’s one of the major differences between the iPhone 15 and iPhone 14 models and marks the transition of iPhones from the old Lightning port to the USB-C port.

USB-C improves the iPhone in several ways. For example, USB-C is much more universal. This allows users to use one charging cable for a variety of devices.

Lightning to USB-C and Lightning to USB-A Cable

white lightning to usb-a cable on top of three iphones

You can use a Lightning to USB-C or Lightning to USB-A cable if you own one of these iPhone models:

  • iPhone 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro, and 14 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro, and 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone SE (1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation)
  • iPhone X, XR, XS, and XS Max
  • iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, and 6S Plus
  • iPhone 5, 5C, and 5S

Between these two cable types, a USB-C to Lightning cable will charge your iPhone much faster than the USB-A to Lightning counterpart, so if faster charging time is one of your priorities, we recommend picking the former.

Another factor to consider is the power adapter. For example, if you already have a USB-A power adapter, you can opt to buy a Lightning to USB-A cable. You can save some money this way because you won’t need to fork out extra to buy a new power adapter just to match a new cable.

30-Pin to USB-A Cable

iPhone 4 with 30-pin charger cable plugged in

The original 30-pin iPhone port was used from 2007 to 2012. The following iPhones need a 30-pin to USB-A cable:

  • iPhone 4 and 4S
  • iPhone 3G and 3GS
  • iPhone (1st generation)

What Power Adapter Do I Need for My iPhone?

7 iPhone power adapters on a white surface

There are several points to consider when working out which power adapter you need for your iPhone. Firstly, the most important rule is to make sure that you buy one with the correct USB port for your iPhone cable, as we briefly mentioned earlier.

If you have a USB-C to USB-C cable or Lightning to USB-C cable, you’ll need a USB-C power adapter. If you buy a 30-Pin to USB-A or Lightning to USB-A cable, you’ll need a USB-A power adapter.

Additional points to consider include the wattage of the power adapter you buy. The higher the number, the faster your device will charge, but note that the adapter will also be larger.

A 5W power adapter is smaller than the 20W equivalent, while a 30W power adapter is bigger and faster than both of those previously mentioned. It doesn’t really matter which wattage you go for since they all work, just at different speeds.

Also, check that the adapter is designed to work in your country. If you’re looking to buy one ahead of traveling, it’s worth considering purchasing the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit, so you won’t need to worry about your iPhone or other Apple products being damaged by sub-standard international plug adapters.

Wireless Chargers

iPhone being charged with a MagSafe charger

Although slower than wired charging, a wireless charger is an alternative to charging cables. It’s more convenient and neater in general. All models from the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus onward support Qi wireless charging, though you don’t get a wireless charger included in the box.

iPhone 12 and newer models also support MagSafe technology that allows for easy accessory attachment and faster 15W wireless charging. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models also support the Qi2 wireless charging standard, which unlocks 15W wireless charging when used with a Qi2-compatible accessory.

Do I Need to Buy Official Apple Cables and Power Adapters for My iPhone?

Charging cable connected to iPhone lightning port

Now that you know which type of cable or power adapter you need to buy for your iPhone, you may be wondering whether it’s better to purchase official Apple accessories or ones manufactured by a third party.

There are a lot of cheap third-party chargers and cables out there, but they can be unsafe and are one of the reasons why iPhone cables don’t seem to last. Any hardware damage caused by third-party accessories may invalidate your iPhone’s warranty.

Therefore, it’s best to either purchase official Apple accessories or MFi-certified ones. MFi stands for Made for iPhone, an Apple certification that allows manufacturers to access licensed technology to produce safe Apple accessories.

Get the Right Charging Cable and Power Adapter for Your iPhone

To make sure you have the right charging accessories, first confirm the iPhone model you have. Your iPhone model is the factor that determines the type of charging cable you need. Also, make sure the charging cable corresponds to the power adapter.

Once you’ve noted down the cable type and power adapter you need, remember to check that the charging accessories you purchase are official Apple products or MFi-certified accessories.


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