Inside the Chip Apple Uses to Stop You Buying Cheap Cables

People looking for cheap, third-party lightning adapters and cables for their new iPhone 5 are out of luck because of an authenticator device hidden in the official products. Here's what's lurking within that infuriating piece of technology.

Chipworks has torn right into a Lightning-to-USB cable, and found a total of four chips lurking within the cable: two of them simple, just a couple of transistors apiece, and two more complex. But one of them, made by Texas Instruments, has really caught its eye.

The chip in question is a TI BQ2025, and it's not documented on a single Texas Instruments data sheet. No worries, though, because Chipworks knows its stuff and has taken a very close look indeed at the silicon. The findings? It's consistent with a communication chip employing some "simple security features". Chipworks explains:

The security does not come close to the herculean approaches that are used in (for example) today's printer cartridges, but resembles the level of effort that cartridge manufacturers used to implement in the olden days. This is likely a calculated decision by Apple to keep costs to a minimum knowing that their core customer base prefers to shop in Apple stores or for brand name peripherals. In these places, piracy is not a concern. In other words, at this time the security is "just enough."

In other words, the technology will only serve to delay third-party cable manufacturers, rather than stopping them from making replacements altogether. That's good new for cash-strapped iPhone 5 users everywhere—you just need to be patient. [Chipworks via Apple Insider]