The Lightning connector is one of the more exciting new pieces of technology in the iPhone 5, replacing the decidedly long in the tooth dock connector. But what exactly is going on in this all digital connector that makes it so special? AppleInsider has teamed up with Double Helix Cables to look inside the connector, and reveal what makes it tick.
As bizarre as it might be to be excited by a piece of cabling, the Lightning does so by simple virtue of working no matter what way you plug it in. So, how does it do that? Apparently it dynamically assigns pins on the fly. The power pin is in the same spot on both sides, but apparently the data pins are asymmetrical. Which means the phone has to dynamically register what pins are where, and reroute the information flow as needed.
The other interesting addition is that the Lightning connector features an authentication chip. That means that those cheapo Lightning adapters that have already shown up on Amazon probably won’t work. However, it’s not clear how much it will or won’t work — if that means that the third party cables will be completely non-functional, or if maybe they’ll only work partly. Maybe they’ll be able to charge your iPhone 5, but not transfer data.
UPDATE: More discussion here, much of which is beyond my ken.