Guess what's the lowest rated Apple product in Apple's online store? (Hint: It's a tie.)
Many of Apple's products get rave reviews from users, but it does have a few products that receive a large amount of critical reviews.
David CarnoyExecutive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
ExpertiseMobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakersCredentials
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Most Apple customers feel pretty good about the products in Apple's online store. They generally rate them pretty highly -- most products have ratings between 3 and 4.5 stars out of 5. But a couple of products stand out for their negative reviews.
Both of them are Apple accessories and both have an average score of 1.5 stars out of 5: the Apple Lightning to USB Cable and the MagSafe power adapter for MacBook Air and Pro laptops.
In Apple's US online store, Apple's Lightning to USB Cable ($19, £15 or AU$29) has over 2,000 ratings, including over 1,000 1-star ratings.
Most people are simply upset that the cable broke sooner than they thought it should.
Dans J wrote in a recent review on September 26:
"4th cable already done, if it was cheaper then I'd be ok with it breaking in like a year, but it's too overpriced for its quality."
Thomas W from Hong Kong wrote:
"I must have gone through 10 of these cables. It's always the same - you buy them, they work fine. But after a few weeks the center contacts start to discolour until they actually physically disappear. They basically rot away. I think this must be due to high humidity where I live."
It's interesting to note that Apple also makes a 2-meter Lightning to USB cable and that product has a slightly higher average rating despite its higher price. It comes in at 2 stars.
The other product that gets panned in hundreds of user reviewers is Apple's Apple MagSafe Power Adapter for the old MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro, which comes in 45-, 60- and 85-watt versions. It costs $79, £65 or AU$129.
Once again, many of the negative reviews point to users being disappointed that the product isn't more durable.
On October 19 John B posted:
"Reading the reviews should wake the people at Apple up. The common thread is that the cords fray and become unusable. I take great care with my MacBook Pro and yet my cord frayed in the same place most of the other reviewers cords did. I only use it at home so I never wrap the cord and always let it lie straight from my laptop. The MacBook Pro is great, but the cords are garbage."
For the record, there is one product in the online store that is rated lower than both these products: Yurbuds Powered by JBL Focus 400 Sport Headphones. It has an average rating of 1 star, but was only reviewed by three people, which we didn't think was a big enough sample size to declare it the worst-rated. That said, I recently tested out a some wireless Yurbuds and they really were subpar.
Apple did not respond to our request for comment.
To give Apple the benefit of the doubt, however, we can't be certain that users bought the items they reviewed from the Apple Store -- anyone can write a review by simply signing in with an Apple ID -- nor that they were even using official Apple merchandise. Also, with staple accessory products likes these, it's the people who have problems with them who tend to be the ones to take the time to post a review.
That said, while a fair number of CNET staffers have had their Lightning cables or MagSafe adapters break over the years, neither one has been a chronic problem for me. When I do go out and buy replacement cables, I don't buy them from Apple, simply because you can get better built cables for half the price. Amazon Basics' cable, for example, is sturdier and around $10 or less. I've never had a MagSafe Power Adapter go bad on me, although I have lost one and was a little upset to have to pay $80 to replace it.
Interestingly, the power adapter for the new 12-inch MacBook is less expensive -- "only" $49 -- and uses a removable USB-C cable, rather than the hardwired proprietary MagSafe connector used on earlier MacBook power adapters. But that new model is already averaging only 2 stars (albeit with just six user ratings so far).
What's your experience been with Apple's Lightning to USB cable and MagSafe Power Adpaters? Are their 1.5-star ratings justified? And is it time for Apple to redesign its cables? It upgraded its bundled earphones three years ago -- perhaps it's time to do the same for its other bundled accessories.