Some early iPhone 5 adopters stuck by Lightning -- literally

Some users with Apple's new Lightning cable say that the USB end is getting stuck in their computers and other USB devices.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
Apple's Lightning USB plug (bottom) and Apple's previous-generation 30-pin plug (top).
Apple's Lightning USB plug (bottom) and Apple's previous-generation 30-pin plug (top). Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple's new Lightning cable technology has gotten kudos from reviewers for its smaller size and reversibility, though some users are experiencing troubles getting the USB end of the cables to unplug from their computers and other devices.

CNET readers have e-mailed us, pointing to a pair of support threads on Apple's site (here and here) in which several people describe problems getting the cables out of the USB ports on their computers, with some going so far as to break out pliers and even take their machines into one of Apple's retail stores to get the cable unplugged.

Apple support forums user Nclose offers up one possible explanation by noting that the indentations on the bottom side of the USB plug (pictured right) are far deeper than older plug models, giving the built-in securing latches more -- and perhaps too much -- to grab on to.

While USB is a standard spec, manufacturers can have design variations. On Apple's most recent machines, the company uses what look like ball-bearings on springs, whereas some others use cut-out metal tabs that have been bent up into an arc.

Users on the forums say AppleCare support told them "they were aware of the problem" and providing replacement cables to those with any issues. It's unclear whether those cables differ from the ones available at launch.

CNET has reached out to Apple for comment, and will update this post when we know more.

Lightning is Apple's new plug technology, which replaces the 30-pin adapters that date back to early iPods. Its key benefit is the smaller iPhone connector, which is 80 percent smaller than the previous connector. Users can also plug it in with either side up. Despite these benefits, the new technology presents a costly change for people who have multiple cables that they use in their car, home or at work. Apple includes one out of the box with its latest iPhone, and will do the same with its soon-to-be-released iPods -- but additional cables run $19.