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The C-Force CC02 Lightning cable enables a Quick Charge charger to fast-charge the iPhone 8 and iPhone X

By Ng Chong Seng - 27 Dec 2017

The C-Force CC02 Lightning cable will enable a Quick Charge charger to fast-charge the iPhone 8 and iPhone X

Update, Mar 30, 2018: Note that with the official release of iOS 11.3, C-Force's CC02 and CC05 cables can no longer fast-charge the new iPhones at 9V. C-Force has since released a new CC06 cable to re-enable the functionality; but as history has repeatedly shown, this is a cat-and-mouse game, and Apple can always issue another software update to "break" the function on non-official cables. You've been warned.

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Qualcomm Quick Charge, meet USB Power Delivery

As your probably know by now, in addition to the iPad Pros, the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X now also support fast-charging via USB Power Delivery. More specifically, the new iPhones support 9V, 12V, and 15V for fast-charging over USB PD.

But what many still don’t know is that USB Power Delivery is a different standard compared to, say, Qualcomm’s Quick Charge. This led to many people buying QC3.0/2.0-enabled chargers/USB hubs/power banks (they assumed anything 9V and above in the specs means it supports PD), later to find out that these chargers weren't able to fast-charge their new iPhones.

While there exist dual QC and USB PD chargers (e.g., this Xiaomi 45W USB-C power adapter), until USB PD 3.0/PPS (Programmable Power Supply) or Quick Charge 4+ power sources become the norm, the can’t-go-wrong way to fast-charge the new iPhones is still with one of Apple’s USB-C power adapters, or from third parties, a USB-C/PD-compliant USB hub or power bank, such as the ZMI 10 QB820.

The problem is, neither of these options is exactly cheap. Apple’s 29W USB-C adapter costs S$68; and the ZMI 10, which is already one of the more affordable PD power banks out there, goes for 299 CNY (~S$61). Not to mention, you still need a USB-C to Lightning cable, which starts at S$34 if you get it from Apple.

Now, if only there’s a way to use a Quick Charge charger to fast-charge the PD-capable iPhones.

Turns out, there actually is.

 

It's called the C-Force CC02

The C-Force CC02 is a China-made USB-A to Lightning cable that you can now find on Taobao. Available in 1 and 1.8-meter lengths priced at 39 CNY (~S$8) and 45 CNY (~S$9) respectively, the company claims this cable is able to convert power from a Quick Charge charger into PD-compatible signals to realize fast-charging on the new iPhones. According to C-Force, the cable can carry up to 9V at 1.8A (16.2W).

This cable has the "force", yo!

Overall well made nylon-braided tangle-free cable.

Versus a regular Lightning connector.

That's a rather large USB-A connector housing you got there.

 

A few words on performance

So, does this thing actually work? In a nutshell: yes.

But there are a few things to take note of. The following is a summary of my findings and observations:

  • The nylon-braided cable has a rather big housing at the USB-A end because within it is where the secret sauce resides. For those interested, it uses Shenzhen Legendary Technologies’ LDR6033 chip; it’s this 32-bit microcontroller that converts power from a QC charger to one accepted by the new iPhones.
  • If you were to believe the manufacturer, the cable comes with several protection mechanisms, including input and output over-voltage and over-current protection, over-temperature protection, short-circuit protection, electrostatic protection, along with automatic cutoff when things go south.
  • While the manufacturer recommends using a Quick Charge-certified charger, the cable should also work on QC-based chargers, such as Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging adapters (which actually support QC2.0). Using the black AFC adapter that comes with the Galaxy S8, I noted that the iPhone 8 pulled down a more-than-decent 11.8W. With a regular Lightning cable, the Samsung charger could only manage 5W.
  • For the fun of it, I also tried Apple’s 12W iPad adapter with the C-Force cable. Expectedly, Apple’s 2.4A charging scheme wasn't recognized for 12W charging, but it still managed to charge the phone at 9.7W. Interestingly, instead of maintaining 2.7V on the D+ and D- lines, I recorded 3.25V on both lines, a signaling that’s usually used for enabling QC 20V and other proprietary fast-charging methods. Moral of the story: if you're already using Apple's 12W charger, there's no need to get the C-Force cable.
  • For what it’s worth, the C-Force cable should also work with iPad Pros that support USB PD. But since the cable is capped at 9V/1.8A, it won’t charge the iPad Pros as fast as, say, Apple’s 29W USB-C adapter, which can do 14.5V at 2A.
  • Finally, note that I used the iPhone 8 for the tests. As I noted in an earlier article, the smaller 8 doesn't benefit that much from USB PD over Apple’s 12W charger. The ~12W charging rate I observed using this C-Force cable with a QC charger on the iPhone 8 is consistent with when I got when testing Apple’s USB-C adapters on the same phone. With the iPhone 8 Plus and X however, the draw was higher, typically hovering around 14 to 15W (still at QC 9V, but with a higher current).


So, can buy or not?

If you’ve one of the new iPhones (especially the iPhone 8 Plus and X), already in possession of a Quick Charge charger or power bank, and are feeling adventurous, this C-Force CC02 cable is easily the most affordable way to enable fast-charging on the phone. Even if you’ve to buy the QC charger, the total QC charger + CC02 cable cost is still going to be lower than a USB-C/PD charger + USB-C to Lightning cable combo.

That said, the C-Force CC02 cable isn’t perfect. For one, there’s no way to tell if the 9V fast-charging mode is really engaged. It also doesn't support Apple’s 2.1A or 2.4A charging scheme, which is a bummer if you’ve chargers or power banks that have a dedicated Apple port or if you’re using an iPhone 7 or earlier model that doesn't support PD. Luckily, an improved version of this cable (model CC05) that remedies these problems and which supports data transfer during charging is already in the works, and C-Force is now seeking backers on Indiegogo.

And finally, while C-Force says the cable will work with all iOS versions up to 11.2.5 (which is currently in beta), there always remains the possibility of it being rendered useless by a future iOS update. (Update: This cable's fast-charge function no longer works with iOS 11.3. Oh well.)

But here's the ultimate question: despite C-Force's claims on safety, are you willing to take a chance with a non-MFi cable, especially one from a brand that you most likely haven't heard of until today?

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