Apple's phone and tablet chargers may be sleek and stylish, but they aren't very durable. Complaints abound from iPad and iPhone owners of cables that split, break, and stop working, sometimes after only a few weeks or months of use.
While the cables are covered by a one year warranty, it's often difficult or impossible– not to mention time-consuming and annoying– to find an Apple store while traveling.
Wouldn't it be better if they just didn't break in the first place? Here are five ways to make your cables last a whole lot longer.
Careful How You Coil
One of the easiest ways to protect your charger when traveling is being careful about how you transport it. Throwing it in your bag means you're likely to end up with a tangled mess, but tightly wrapping it around your hand and tying it in a knot isn't good for it either.
The delicate wires inside the cable get bent and crushed every time you do this, and it doesn't take long before they start breaking and splitting. The end result? A charger which starts working intermittently, and then shortly after, not at all.
Instead, gently loop the cable on top of itself three or four times, then tuck each end into the loop. The charger is still easy to transport, but there's little chance of it getting snagged or damaged in transit. An alternative is to use a dedicated cord winder, which rolls the cable around itself without creating bends or kinks.
A Bend Is Not Your Friend
Speaking of bends, one of the most common causes of cable breakage is by being squashed and bent by furniture, tension, or gravity. The point where the plug connector meets the cable is the most likely place for it to fray, so when you accidentally jam something against it, there's a high chance of damage over time.
The same thing happens when you add tension to the charger by stretching it, or letting the phone hang down from it. A little care goes a long way. By making sure the cable always has some slack in it and is always lying as flat and straight as possible when in use, you'll greatly increase its lifespan.
Remove It Gently
As with paying attention when connecting the cable, be careful how you remove it as well. Yanking on the cable underneath the connector, rather than gently pulling on the connector itself, is another excellent way to damage it right at its weakest point.
It's easy to just rip the cable out when you're in a hurry, but taking the extra second or two to remove it with a little more care will save plenty of hassle and money in the long run.
Don't Use Your Phone While It's Charging
Have you ever wondered why phone charging cables are so short? It's (probably) not an attempt to save a couple of cents off the manufacturing cost. Apple and other phone makers would prefer you didn't use your device with the cable plugged in, and try to make it harder to do so.
Not only does it reduce your device's battery life, the extra tension, bending, and flexing of the cable as the phone moves around damages the connectors as well.
Resist the urge to lie in bed scrolling through Facebook while the phone is charging. Instead, just pull the cable out first. It's quick and easy to do, and both your battery and charger will thank you for it.
Reinforce the Ends
Given how little reinforcement and strain relief Apple's cables come with, it pays to add a little extra yourself. There are several ways of doing this, none of which cost more than a few dollars.
A particularly low-tech approach is to simply cut the end off a pair of matchsticks and use them as a splint. Run them along either side of where the connector and cable meet, and bind them tightly with duct tape or similar. Just like that, you've got a stronger, if uglier, charger.
You can also use springs out of old ballpoint pen to achieve something similar, just by wrapping one around each of those sensitive sections of the cable to prevent them from getting bent.
For something a little less unattractive, consider using paracord or heatshrink instead.
Sugru is another good reinforcement option. It starts off soft and pliable so you can mold it into shape quickly and easily, but sets solid to provide plenty of protection.
Like many things in life, a little care up front saves bigger problems later. Look after your cable, and you won't be the person walking around for hours trying to find a new one on your vacation.