Having to replace a frayed cable is an annoying fact of modern life many of us have to put up with. But what if cables were sturdier and less prone to exposing their wiring or breaking? Apple might have the answer to that common problem.
"It is well known that bending of the cable near the termination point may cause unwanted strain on the wire connections, which may lead to cable failure," the company wrote in a "Cable with Variable Stiffness" patent application, which was spotted by Apple Insider. "Accordingly, it is common to provide a strain relief sleeve made of a stiff material around the end region of the cable."
Apple notes that increased thickness for strain relief sleeves "may not be desired" in some cases, so it's exploring a different approach. Along with making cables thicker overall, it suggests extending the strain relief beyond the two ends. One way of doing that, according to the filing, is to have varying levels of stiffness across different "longitudinal sections."
One section is flexible, another is rigid and a third is somewhere in between. The latter, Apple says, can relieve strain on the ends of the cable.
Simply filing a patent application doesn’t guarantee that Apple will beef up its cables (the company notably doesn't include the word "Lightning" anywhere in the filing). Still, it suggests that Apple is taking the idea at least somewhat seriously, so we may eventually have sturdier Lightning and MagSafe charging cables. If you opt to go the first-party route for a Lightning cable replacement, you'll pay at least $19, so improved robustness could save you money in the long run.