AppleInsider has spoken with a cabling expert who has examined Apple’s new Lightning connector, and the finding is that the 8 pins on the connector are dynamically assigned.
When it unveiled Lightning earlier this month, Apple noted that the new, all-digital connector “features an adaptive interface that uses only the signals that each accessory requires.” But Peter’s testing has shown that Apple’s cable goes even further to allow for reversible use in either orientation.
Some features of the Lightning cable, such as USB power connections, are symmetrical on each side of the plug. That means that if the pins on Lightning are numbered from one to eight on each side, pin one on the top row connects with pin eight on the bottom row.
This allows users to flip the connector and plug Lightning into an iPhone 5 in either orientation. With this design decision, the lower right pin always makes contact with the same spot in the corresponding Lightning jack on the iPhone.
However, while the USB power connection is symmetrical, Peter’s testing found that the data connections in Lightning are actually asymmetrical. As such, he believes that dynamic Lightning pin assignment is performed by a chip included on the iPhone 5.
Translation? You might want to avoid any unauthorized third party cables you might come across. Apple wants all of that moolah for itself.