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I’ve seen quite a few Lightning to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapters that only claim compatibility with iOS 10.2 or lower. I found that very strange, since I generally expect my adapters to keep working even after I update an OS.

What does the iOS version have to do with a simple adapter like this? Does an obvious reason exist for why sellers make this claim?

  • Pure guess - they're not 'Made for iOS' certified… ie 'cheap cr*p'. – Tetsujin Jan 9 at 20:04
  • @Tetsujin Why does lack of certification equal ‘crap’? – Andreas Jan 9 at 20:06
  • Certification needs a specific chip in the cable. No chip, no certificate.. which means recent iOSes will reject the cable & not allow it to connect other than as a charger. – Tetsujin Jan 9 at 20:07
  • I see. Sounds more like my iPhone is being the cheap piece of crap then! – Andreas Jan 9 at 20:09
  • Any chance they were released at the time iOS 10.2 was the latest public version of iOS? – Nimesh Neema Jan 9 at 20:10
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Apple has had a Made for iSomething (MFi) program since 2005, though initially it wasn't strictly enforced.

Anecdotally, because I can't find any announcement, only user complaints - ref Reddit: [Request] Tweak to enable non Mfi chargers on ios 10.2 & others - with the introduction of iOS 10.2 the requirements became more stringent.

MFi cables & devices require a certification chip in them, licensed from Apple, otherwise they will be rejected by the iDevice.

The implication for cables being sold as 'works up to iOS 10.2' is that these are inferior cables - they are certainly chipless.
It's probably impossible to determine at such remove whether they were of sufficient quality to become certified, but made before the chip became compulsory & are now simply old stock, or whether they are just cheap knock-offs that would never gain certification.

Certification doesn't seem to be that difficult or expensive [It's been described as a 'tax', being a percentage of sale price] & I doubt anyone would even bother to make non-certified cables these days, as they would just be returned by any customer using a recent iOS.

I found a good blog about it on HowToGeek: What Does Apple MFi-Certified Mean?

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  • Thanks! Good info. I couldn’t make sense of the reddit post though. The actual chargers stopped working? As though implying that every single USB port on the planet where I can charge from has been certified? Sounds improbable to say the least. It’s just a 5V line. HowToGeek’s article looked trustworthy, until they started FUDing by comparing new MFi connectors with worn out non-MFi connectors, implying that the cable could cause the battery to overheat, and assuring me that all I need in order to understand that uncertified accessories “generally are trash” is Apple’s word 🤔 – Andreas Jan 10 at 13:59
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Lightning to 3.5mm audio jack adapters are not iOS dependent...

No matter who makes them.

This is a hardware solution to go from a lightning port which has no audio signaling whatsoever, to an analog connector.

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Inside the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter is a DAC or digital audio converter that takes digital signals and converts them to analog signals.

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TL;DR

What you’re seeing is marketing verbiage that doesn’t belong as this adapter is not tied to the OS. That said, I cannot warn strenuously enough against getting knock off (uncertified) adapters because they’re cheaper than the original then plugging them into an iPhone or iPad that can cost upwards of $1,000USD

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  • Thanks for the explanation! A question: considering the data lines are generic, doesn’t the cable have to first negotiate the delivery of an audio stream? If so, isn’t that firmware dependent, and can’t firmware updates occur alongside OS updates? At that point, is it really exclusively a hardware solution? – Andreas Jan 10 at 12:10
  • Not a software issue per se, but firmware of the chip that handles the lightning connector (like a USB controller). It’s unlikely to be updated with the OS. Think of it like a smarter version of the audio jack found on MacBooks. In other words, it’s all handled in hardware. – Allan Jan 10 at 12:31
  • Thanks. What I was trying to ask was whether the firmware doing the negotiating on behalf of the iPhone can be updated by doing an OTA update of the OS. If so, isn’t the adapter in practice iOS dependent at that point, assuming that firmware updates are generally delivered together with a particular iOS version? – Andreas Jan 10 at 12:40
  • Can it? Yes, but it’s Not likely. Firmware updates have the potential of “bricking” things. Looking at Apples downloads, there’s relatively few device firmware (like SMC) updates – Allan Jan 10 at 12:51
  • Thanks! All it takes is one though. And I have to assume then that it actually occurred in iOS 10. – Andreas Jan 10 at 14:02

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