Differences Between iPods & iPhone Chargers

By Anthony Oster

Numerous third-party, 30-pin adapters have been created for Apple devices.
i Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

While many Apple products, such as iPods and iPhones, can utilize charging cables interchangeably, there is some discrepancy between various generations of Apple products. Most recently, the introduction of the iPhone 5 and the fifth-generation iPod Touch sparked heavy debate as consumers realized that the charging cables and accessories for previous iPhones and Apple devices were not compatible with their new iPhone or iPod Touch. Apple has created products to support the different generations of its charging technology.

30-Pin to USB

By and large, the most commonly supported charging cable for Apple mobile devices is the 30-pin to USB cable. The 30-pin to USB cable is used to charge and sync the iPhone 4s, iPhone 4, iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 3G, iPhone, the first through third generations of the iPod, the iPod Touch first through fourth generations, the iPod Classic and the first through sixth generations of the iPod Nano.

Apple iPod Shuffle to USB

To accommodate the smaller size of the iPod Shuffle, a smaller, more compact sync and charge cable was designed. Unlike the 30-pin connector, the iPod Shuffle to USB sync and charge cable resembles a microphone jack. The iPod Shuffle to USB cable is only compatible with iPod Shuffle models and cannot interface with other Apple devices.

Lightning to USB Cable

Beginning with the iPhone 5, Apple has switched from the 30-pin connector to the Lightening connector for its mobile devices. In a press release from Apple, the Lightning connector is described as more durable, smaller and smarter than the previous 30-pin connector. Current Apple devices utilizing the Lightning cable include the iPhone 5, the fifth generation iPod Touch, the seventh generation iPod Nano, the fourth generation iPad and the iPad Mini. While the Lightning cable boasts faster transfer speeds, it is still based on USB 2.0 technology and the data transmission caps of that technology.


To avoid potential backlash from consumers, many of whom have purchased third-party accessories designed for the 30-pin connector, Apple created the 30-pin to Lightning adapter. With this adapter, users can continue to use accessories such as stereo docking stations, cases and other third-party creations designed to interact with the larger 30-pin design of older Apple devices.