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Musing #43: Some cables are more equal than others

Purchasing cables online is a tricky proposition. This is the reason why I have a USB voltage/current tester in my possession to ascertain a cable’s mettle. I normally restrict myself to Amazon fulfilled orders so that I can return a cable should it be deemed to be unworthy of its price. However, the more esoteric products from China are rarely available locally and even if they are, the mark-up in pricing is absolutely astounding. Going by the reviews, it seems most are unaware of the source of these products.

With the way standards work and with more devices incorporating anorexic batteries, the need to carry a universal cable with a power bank has never been greater. The Floveme 3-in-1 cable caught my eye on AliExpress this singles’ day and I purchased two of them without much hesitation. In principle, the cable solves one of modern life’s vexatious problems by providing a single cable solution to all charging needs. However, there’s always a catch.

One assumes cheap cables to do their thing but to not last too long. Unfortunately, in the case of Floveme and I assume for [insert any generic brand name] cables, the compromise seems to be made in the worst area possible – quality. On the outside, it looks as good as any other cable, but it is the inside that matters. I put this cable with the Type C adapter attached up against the Mi 2-in-1 cable that comes with the Mi Power Bank Pro as well as the Type C cable bundled with the Mi A1.

The results can be seen in the image below:

The brand new 3-in-1 cable from Floveme supplies a significantly lower current of 1.25A compared to its more established Chinese peer which hovers close to the 2A mark, the maximum current that the charging device is capable of drawing at 5V. The fast charging claim on the product page, unsurprisingly, turned out to be fluff. So, the next time you purchase a cable online, consider something more than the looks, colour and the superficial “excellent cable” reviews. After all, all cables are not created equal.

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