Shorten IPhone 5 Lightning Cable




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I wanted to shorten one of my iPhone 5 lightning cables for my car charging purposes so I thought I'd give it a whirl.  I'm new a soldering and haven't done anything like this previously with this type of cable so I wasn't sure it would work.   I tried this twice, the first time it didn't work, the second time it did.  I wrote this instructable on the fist attempt so read though carefully as I have indicated where I made the error.

The reason I did this was because I also made a custom usb chaging port on the left side of my car steering wheel (which is where my phone mount is) and I did not want it to be overly long.   In the end it became about 10cm long and works great.

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Step 1: Things You'll Need and Time

Time for project: As Im new to this, it took me about 2 hours (including time to document the experience).

Things you'll need:

1. USB Cable $21
2. 30W Soldering iron or better $20
3. Helping Hands (Aligator clips mounted on stand, Radio Shack $20)
4. Sizzors
5. Wire cutter/stripper $5-10
6. Shrink tubing $6
7. Fine Solder  (I used 0.6mm for this project) $7
8. Electrical Tape $1
9. Lighter or heat gun. $1 - $50
10. A Pin (this is not needed for second attempt)

Step 2: Cut and Strip Wire

Use your wire cutter to cut the cable.  Cut to length with the intention of stripping 2 - 3 inches off each side and plan for the stripped portions to overlap in the end to get the cable to the length you want.

Strip off the exterior white sheath.

Step 3: Unweave the Outer Cable


Using the a pin, work your way from the top down, unweaving the cable.  Be careful not to try and unweave more than the top braided portion as the cables will get more difficult to undo as you go.  

Once unweaved completely, pull to one side and twist.


Pull the braided cable down away from the cut.  It will loosen and become wide and expose all the cables underneath.  This interweaved part is just a protective layer.   After pulling it back, I used sizzors to cut it off completely.

Step 4: Unwrap 'Tinfoil' and Other Cables.

Unwrap the insulating 'tinfoil'.   Be careful not to rip, as I am not sure if this is really an insulator or not (IT is simply another protective layer).  I used it again to re-wrap the cable at the end.

Inside there are 3 insulated cables (red, green, white) and three uninsulated cables.  I assumed that the uninsulated cables could be twisted together (This assumption turned out to be correct), because if there was a concern that they couldn't touch, they'd be insulated too....

Step 5: Strip Interior Cables

The interior insulated cables have VERY stretchy plastic. It was very difficult to strip these with fingernails.  So I used the soldering Iron to melt the plastic and it came off very easily.  Be carefull not to melt other parts of the cables.

Strip the three cables at 3 seperate lengths.  The goal is to have connection points at different intervals along the cable so it helps with keeping the cable thin, and helps stops wires crossing.  

I started with the intention of having a 2" length of cable exposed, however I found this too short to work with.  I will do 3" next time. (3 inches worked great)

Strip and cut the cables with 1cm of overlap.   If the green cable is short on one end, it has to be long on the other to line up properly.  It is extremely important that you measure the correct lengths or your cables will not line up in length after you reattach them.  

Recheck the length of each cable versus the other before making cuts so you know they all line up correctly.

Step 6: Reattach

Put a length of shink tubing on one of the cables and slide to one end for later use.

Twist one of the stripped interior cables together, solder using the helping hands to hold the cable. (instructions on soldering on youtube).  Cover the cable with the least amound of electrical tape possible.

Repeat for the other two insulated cables.  Make sure the length of all cables are soldered at the same length.

Solder the three uninsulated wires together.

I cut off the nylon core.  It was annoying.

I wrapped the core cables back up in the existing 'tin foil' but it ended up being too thick at this point, so used electrical tape again.

Solder the exterior interweaved cables. (This is not necessary as this has been cut off)

Step 7: Cover It All Up

Slide the shrink tubing over the entire connection.

I had a big problem at this point.  Everything was too thick so I really had to force it into place.  This may have messed up some internal connections. (ON  second attempt it worked fine as everything was considerably thinner.)

Use a heat gun or a lighter to shrink the tubing into place.  If you use a lighter, move it quickly all around so as not to burn the tubing.  

That's all folks.    

I'll update this on my next attempt if it works properly or not. (NOW UPDATED)


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14 Discussions


2 years ago

I found some "Liquid Tape" made by Gardner Bender at Lowe's that works great for covering these small cables. It is a pain to put on with the built in brush as it was obviously designed for applying to lager cables, but a little paint brush or something like that works fine. Turns out neater than using electrical tape in some cases like the little solders of the insulated cables in this cable. I'm sure there are other brands of this stuff so just look around. It's worth having on your workbench.


3 years ago

If you have mistakenly soldered the wrong configuration of wires and used the charger along with the repaired lightning cable, will it break your iOS device's lightning port?

I've recently had this experience... now my iPhone 6 is not being recognized by any computer, any lightning cable and any usb port of any computer, it only charges the iPhone in both sides but not data sync.

What part of the phone is broken? chip inside the lightning port?

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

I don't know, I have never experienced this. The only way I can suggest troubleshooting is to try different original apple lightning cables as you have done (and since there is no difference, it would suggest the iphone is broken). And also ensuring the cable you are using to test (not the one suspected of breaking the phone) works with other phones. If all fails, try restoring your iphone. If that also fails, unfortunately suggest you'll have to contact apple support.


4 years ago

You can get heat shrink without writing on it (if that matters to you) over at

I've been using their repair kits to prevent my kids from destroying so many Apple charger Lightning cable connectors. Thanks Apple. :-/

Works like a charm and its a cheap fix. Cheers.


4 years ago

BTW. The lightening cable itself is a low voltage data transfer cable. It is a shielded and individually grounded three conductor low voltage data transfer cable. Similar to Ethernet, telephone, or industrial signal cables.
Individual components of cables are all useful and necessary

2 replies

Reply 4 years ago

I agree with you that all components to cables are there for a purpose. i have been using this cable I made since I posted this instructable with no ill effects on both my iPhone5 and iPhone6. As with any electronics, modify at your own risk.


Reply 4 years ago

Individual components of cables all have a function and are all necessary for the cable to perform as designed.


4 years ago

BTW. The lightening cable itself is a low voltage data transfer cable. It is a shielded and individually grounded three conductor low voltage data transfer cable. Similar to Ethernet, telephone, or industrial signal cables.
Individual components of cables are all useful and necessary


4 years ago

The "tin foil" is called Mylar. Both the Mylar and the braided outer jacket are the cable's shield. These shields eliminate any electrical interference "noise" from adversely effecting the circuit by interfering with the low voltage transmission of data. Without the shields, induction from nearby conductors and circuits can interfere and even prohibit the flow of electricity/data through the cable. Induction also causes a change in voltage and current to levels that may damage both the cable itself and possibly any device plugged into it.
Both the Mylar and braided are important components of any signal/information carrying cables. Cut them off, or not properly splice them, and you could experience adverse reactions, or even damage.
This is a risky procedure for anyone not sufficiently experienced in electrical practices with knowledge of electrical properties/limitations. I wouldn't risk damaging my $800 iPhone just to make a $10 cable shorter.


4 years ago on Step 7


The braided sheathing and the tin-foil are both there for good reason; they shield the cable and other devices from interference. Also, the nylon within also serves a valuable purpose as a "strain-relief" to help prevent the cord and your connections from being pulled apart.

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago on Step 7

Agree these "extras" are always there for a purpose. But are not 100% necessary for it to function.


5 years ago on Introduction

video fix give me a heads up if i'm doing something wrong


6 years ago on Introduction

I updated this instructable with a method that made it work properly. Cheers.