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Question: Lightning Cable Corrosion?

I was trying to sync/charge my iPhone 5 so the USB end went in my MacBook Pro, and the Lightning end went in the iPhone only to get the error that iTunes couldnt connect to the phone. Then the phone would beep everytime I moved it like the cord was loose or something. I pulled out the lightning plug and looked at it only to find corrosion on the 'gold' connectors.

Does anyone know, does apple actually use gold in these? (gold isnt supposed to corrode, especially after 6 days)

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After my post, apple actually called me (using my contact info from my apple ID) and offered to mail me a new cable in exchange for sending the one i mentioned back to them to look into the problem. They paid all the postage and i got a new cable. so if you're near an apple store it might be worth it to take the cable in and see if they'll exchange it.

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Jun 22, 2015 6:45 PM in response to bmwraw8482 In response to bmwraw8482

i am a master electrician and repair electronics and one of my responsibilities is to have manufacturers own up to their warranties. At this point it seems as if my technical expertise had hit deaf ears at the "genius bar" at apple. My phone stopped charging for good last night, I noticed corrosion on the charger before

but cleaned if off with contact cleaner and a toothbrush . this actually wasn't corrosion at all but carbon deposit left from arcing and overheated conductors. I agree with the others on here the charger plugs in without enough pressure and too loosely into an aluminum framed phone which expands contracts with heat and cold more then almost every solid metal and bends too easily. My charger just doesn't have enough pressure and even when new, could not charge fast enough to run Google maps.

Yesterday afternoon it just wouldn't charge past 7 percent and died. I thought perhaps my charger was no good anymore after charging it and tried my wife's brand new charger she purchased for her iPhone six plus. It almost held a charge but I could feel the cord overheating in less then a minute, pulled it out to find carbon marks and green corrosion from the arcing electrolysis. I cleaned it off and didn't mention it to her.

I called apple care and they told me likely that they would replace the phone because it was a manufacturer defect.

I went into the Apple Store today, the customer service rep told me it was likely they'd replace the phone under warranty. He came back and said, for 300 We can replace it because the warranty doesn't cover corrosion. I told him take it back in the lab the phone is bone dry. He did and the phone was dry but he said corrosion is not covered. At this point I could feel my blood pressure raising. They still had no hypothesis as too why the pins were melted clean off the inside of the charging point and the inside was covered in carbon.

I told him ," the phone was always dry, it's not corrosion its carbon deposit. The corrosion or carbon is a symptom of the arcing"

He went and got his manager.

the manager was very nice but had no intention of understanding the technicality of the issue and basically was there to say he had no power to replace my phone because of the technician in the back of the genius bars findings. I explained to him I read this thread and the issue is a loose connection. He agreed but shook my hand and listened to me waiting for me to calm down and leave. I can not recall being this angry in a long time. I left with my broken phone I purchased just 6 months ago and the burnt charger cable.

Not knowingwhat to do next I contacted apple care again and they basically told me that the genius bars decision is final and cannot be overrided. He said in their notes that the warranty was not honored due to user misuse. I was not told this in store. The notes had no explanation as to why two of the pins within the phone were completely melted off and again the contacts within the phone had carbon marks.

I spoke to Apple cares supervisor and surprise surprise she didn't even know what an electrical arc was and she couldn't do anything not transfer me to anyone who could help me. This is a major customer service failure on Apples part. A company with such a giant profit margin should have no problem owning up to their own engineering and manufacturing oversights. From this thread it is obvious to see I am not alone.


Hred dress the kicker, my wife emailed me telling me her new iPhone 6 plus lightening charger was broken and it wasn't my phone. I said no , my work phone is charging fine, which is an iPhone six , with my car charger. Turns out, just plugging it into my phone for five minutes destroyed a brand new charger. Even after I cleaned the contacts. And get this, she just got home after buying a new charger, and guess what now her iPhone 6 plus is dead and won't take a charge, I looked at the inside of her phone and bingo, carbon marks. Apple you better own up to your warranties, don't think your too big of a company too lose public trust, because you've severely disappointed me. I'm a professional in the electronics industry and you cannot fool me.

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Oct 22, 2015 1:14 PM in response to bmwraw8482 In response to bmwraw8482

Like many others here, I'm an electronics technician and have been in my trade/profession for 50 years. Every technician who has ever done bench work has seen the contact degradation problems caused by arcing hundreds of times over and the lightning connector is indeed a problem. I have had the same issue as many others, wasted an inordinate amount of time making contact with the so-called "Genius" bar and turned up to my appointment only to be cheerfully given a new cable by an Apple employee who had no knowledge of electrical arcing and didn't want to listen to my explanation of how I had not contributed in any way to this problem.

IMHO there are several contributors to the problem and the probable poor design of the aptly named "Lightning™" interface. Apple employees who have put it down to moisture are partly right but it does play a part in all electrical arcing. What I guess they are overlooking is that water vapour in the air isn't ever going away and will always be absorbed by minute contaminants, mainly dust and grease particles which form a bridge allowing arcing which is just like "lightning" conduction and which can happen at pretty much any energy level.


Several others have pointed out that the blackening of the connector contacts is burning, not corrosion and they are right. How this burning happens can be simply put down to the fact that most of us forget to switch off our chargers and wait for the energy to dissipate before unplugging, and a tiny arc "spark-erodes" the power contacts when we unplug. Over a very short period time the very small amount of gold flashing on the contacts is penetrated to and the copper contact is able to oxidise and form a carbon film. In a perfect design, the contacts would be solid gold, there would be adequate transient suppression on the power conductors, more contact pressure and so on, but the design is simply not perfect and the reality is that Apple does not see it as a sufficiently serious issue to warrant any sort of a recall, which would be a logistical nightmare anyway, nigh impossible given the volumes of iPhones sold.


It's just disappointing that somebody from Apple is not honest enough to admit that the design is lacking and promise that the next model will be better. I think we would all would prefer that to employees blaming moisture exposure and avoiding the real issue. I have great admiration for Apple but a simple act of honesty goes a long way to retaining customers for any business.


The best solution to at least lessening the problem is to always keep the contacts clean, use a little bit of electrical contact cleaner or even isopropyl alcohol on both the plug and the socket and always switch off and wait a minute before unplugging or plugging in the charger. The little dental cleaning brushes that you can buy for cleaning between teeth are great for cleaning the socket, and you'll amazed at the amount of gunk that accumulates in there.

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Nov 23, 2012 5:16 AM in response to stallout In response to stallout

After my post, apple actually called me (using my contact info from my apple ID) and offered to mail me a new cable in exchange for sending the one i mentioned back to them to look into the problem. They paid all the postage and i got a new cable. so if you're near an apple store it might be worth it to take the cable in and see if they'll exchange it.

Nov 23, 2012 5:16 AM

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Nov 23, 2012 1:40 PM in response to bmwraw8482 In response to bmwraw8482

I just returned a month old lightening cable and was told by the store that I had exposed it to moisture! When I said that I had not, they did not belive me, but it appeard that this was not the first one of these that they saw. They told me that they woud replace it this one time but not again. This is why I pay them thousands of dollars, so that when a $3 cost cable fails they give me trouble? Not the way I would have handled it. They have a problem with this connector and are not prepared to admit it, so it is our fault.

Nov 23, 2012 1:40 PM

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Feb 13, 2013 5:59 AM in response to bmwraw8482 In response to bmwraw8482

Me too. I bought the Lightning to 30-pin Adapter for $29 US and there is now corrosion on both sides of the Lightning connector. When I plugin my iPhone, sometimes it charges, other times it doesn't. I've been really carefully with the adapter and it always stays in my car. Maybe the harsh winter months of Chicago are too much for these connectors? I never had this problem with the 30 pin connector. Next time I'm at an Apple Store, I'll show it to them. I hope they replace it.

Feb 13, 2013 5:59 AM

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Feb 18, 2013 4:09 PM in response to bmwraw8482 In response to bmwraw8482

I have the exact same problem. I bought my iphone 5 and after 28 days it stoped charging, when i looked to the cable, the connectors were black. i cleaned the cable with some dry cloth and it started to charge but unable to connect to the computer. tried in different computers and nothing. went to operator store (TMN - Portugal), they tested it and still nothing, so they send the iphone to warranty with no scratches or signs of bad handling. 1 month later i got the response from them, and they said warranty was void because there was few traces of liquid in the charging connector indicating corrosion (wich is impossible because the phone has never been even close to water or any fluids), they also say that all the interior and exterior LCI were not activated. they want me to pay 220€ to fix it. i refuse to do so, because it´s not my fault the equipment is defective, so they send it back to the store (unrepaird). when i looked to thecnical info describing the problem, the company that made the verification is not even apple certified (http://www.tametgroup.com/empresa.php?area=1&emp=1&id=1). I contacted a portuguese consumer organization who recomended me to make a complaint in an official complaint form and not to recover the equipment. so I did, and now i´m waiting for answer.

Feb 18, 2013 4:09 PM

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Feb 18, 2013 4:13 PM in response to bmwraw8482 In response to bmwraw8482

Finally took mine to the Apple Store last weekend. The guy claimed that this could only result from liquid damage. I said that was impossible, that I've taken care of my device and cable, etc. So he checked the liquid indicator on my phone, found no evidence of liquid damage, and exchanged the cable for me. Hooray.

Feb 18, 2013 4:13 PM

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Mar 28, 2013 8:02 PM in response to bmwraw8482 In response to bmwraw8482

I seem to be having the same problem as well. My wife and I have two iPhone5's and an iPad 4G, all which use the lightning connector. For the first time this evening I went to sync her iPhone with our PC and got a 'USB Device Not Recognized' error. After fighting it for an hour, I went and got a different USB-to-lightning connector. It too was not super reliable at first, but after wiggling the cable a bit the iPhone made the 'I'm charging!' sound and became available in iTunes.


On both of these cables I notice two things: 1) plugging in the lightning connector in one particular orientation it doesn't work at all. 2) the middle pins on both sides of the lightning connector have become tarnished (blackish). Not sure if this is the cause but I can't scrape it off.


I do have one additional connector at work that so far seems pretty reliable. Just my $0.02. Congrats on getting a free replacement.

Mar 28, 2013 8:02 PM

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Jun 25, 2013 4:08 AM in response to demerson In response to demerson

Has anyone found any real resolution to this? I am an Electrical Engineer, so I have experience in microelectronics, but this is ridiculous. My wife's iPad mini has had this issue. I leave the lightning connector attached to a USB outlet I installed in the kitchen and we use vinegar as a cleaning product for the counter, so at first I thought that was causing the corrosion, and I just took it to the Apple store for exchange (I had already cleaned off the cable as much as possible, but one side had gone so far as to lose a pin) hoping they would replace it for the lost pin and miss the corrosion. They gave me a new cable and all was working well. Just today I went to charge my wife's iPad mini again and it had a flickering charge indicator (this really cant be good for the electronics). The same problem has occurred on my new cable. I did notice that there is a blue discoloration (kind of looks like a poorly installed car battery color) on the lightning female portion on the iPad mini itself. This is definitely corrosion, but what is the source? The only thing I can think of would be steam from use in the kitchen near the stove, but water alone and at such infrequent times should not cause this kind of corrosion. I think I might take the iPad mini to my lab microscope to see what's going on in there, but otherwise we are off to the apple store again...

Jun 25, 2013 4:08 AM

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Jul 4, 2013 5:38 AM in response to brockap3 In response to brockap3

I've just had a look at mine under a magnifying glass, and after trying a few progressively harder objects to remove what appears to be a carbon deposit, I finally shifted the stuff with some bared copper hookup wire.
After doing that, I noticed the remaining metal formed two peaks, roughly 1/3 and 2/3 along the contact area, and both sides were virtually identical.
My educated guess is that the matching contact in the iPhone/iPad (iPad in my case) is not held against the cable contact with enough pressure, and they are effectively arcing, in the same way an arc welder works. If that is the case, the only real option is for the connector in the iDevice to be redesigned to exert just a little more pressure on the cable plug.

The same thing has happened to a lightning-30 pin adapter I bought (from Apple) with the iPad4, although to a lesser extent, as it hasn't seen as much use.

Frustrated much.

Jul 4, 2013 5:38 AM

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Jul 5, 2013 6:02 PM in response to PeterInAus In response to PeterInAus

I think I am siding with you on this. After talking to my colleagues, I received two plausible suggestions:

1) two gold electrodes placed in an aqueous solution with a positive voltage on one wire and ground applied to the other will corrode the positive gold electrode away

2) electrical arcing causing the corrosion (originally I dismissed this as it is just USB - i.e. 5 V /2 A max)

After examining the male and female sides, it would seem both are likely culprits, but you would have to have some pretty serious condensation on the pins to get this to happen with steam. See the pictures attached (shared images on google drive). You can see in the female side that the number 4 pin is shorter than the others and blackened. In the image of the male cable you can see how the metal is actually gone from the pins, literally holes in the metal. Corrosion due to water damage and such isn't so spot specific and definitely wouldn't leave other portions of the meal untouched. Let me know your thoughts. Enjoy the Apple close-ups.


Female: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-euQuYfdC_QQm9pQnBBbFZNV1E/edit?usp=sharing

Male top: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-euQuYfdC_QUzFidEFJci1oRlU/edit?usp=sharing

Male bottom: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-euQuYfdC_QWU1SMnl4bC1oMHc/edit?usp=sharing

Jul 5, 2013 6:02 PM

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Jul 5, 2013 6:06 PM in response to brockap3 In response to brockap3

Sorry, forgot to note that the corrosion is happening mainly on the VSUB/V++/Power providing pin, and to add this link. It is an image of pinouts for the lightning connector.

http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/english/NEWS_EN/20121001/242892/?SS=imgview_e&FD=15 38214771&ad_q

Jul 5, 2013 6:06 PM

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Aug 27, 2013 1:11 PM in response to bmwraw8482 In response to bmwraw8482

I'm having the same issue with a cable I've only used at the office to charge my phone from the computer. Looking at it closely the corrosion seems to be happening on 2 specific pins, which seems to validate the observation someone made about arcing.

Aug 27, 2013 1:11 PM

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Sep 8, 2013 2:44 PM in response to bmwraw8482 In response to bmwraw8482

I have the same issue with an iphone 5 bought last Nov. One cable does not work at all, a second looks on its way, as does a 30 pin female to 8 pin male adapter I have for my car.

Gonna take the lot of them to a Apple sotre this weekl and see what they say.


I did just get a couple of Amazon Basics cables, and they look sturdier in terms of the cable and its connection to the plugs, so it'll be interesting to see if they wear any better on the pins...

Sep 8, 2013 2:44 PM

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Sep 14, 2013 10:43 AM in response to bmwraw8482 In response to bmwraw8482

I too am having the same problem. This phone cost me a bundle and the mid 2010 MacBook that keeps rebooting because of a faulty (admittedly by Apple) GPU, which they won't warranty because it's more than 3 years old (how convenient for them) wasn't cheap. A life long PC guy I went to Apple products because when they work, they rock....but the little things that cause your device not to work yet cost big money to fix has caused me to go back to the cheaper to buy; cheaper to fix, PC equipment.


Sorry Apple, you've lost another one!

Sep 14, 2013 10:43 AM

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Question: Lightning Cable Corrosion?