Rarely, when you plug an iPhone or iPad into a particular Lightning charger cable you’ll see a pop-up or lock screen message on the device that says something to the effect of “This cable is not certified and may not work reliably”. This usually prevents the lightning cable from charging the device as well. Though most users will never see this error, if you do see that message, there’s almost always a reason why.
We’ll cover the three most common reasons you’ll see the “not certified” message on an iOS device, and also what you can do about it.
Perhaps before anything else, try pulling the cable out of the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, then putting it back in. Also, try plugging the cable into either a different USB port on a computer, or into a different all outlet. On rare occasions where the message is displayed erroneously and for no good cause, this can be a solution, which is probably indicative of a power issue with the source, and not the cable. These situations can also sometimes lead to an appearance of a device that refuses to turn on, though in such a situation just plugging it into a different outlet can be the remedy.
So assuming that is not the case, here are the most likely reasons why you’d see the “This cable is not certified and may not work reliably” error message with an iPhone or ipad.
The Cable is Junk or Poor Quality
The first and most obvious reason to see the error is when a cable is not certified by Apple, which is often the case with a cheap replacement. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, when they don’t work is when you’ll see the “This cable or accessory is not certified and may not work reliably with this iPhone.” error message show up.
Because the iPhone and iPad Lightning USB charger cables can be expensive, many users will turn to the third party offerings to replace a torn or frayed cable, and these cheap low quality replacements are the most common causes of that error message. Those cheap cables are not recommended for exactly that reason.
Rather than risking it and throwing away money, just buy a cable that will work. If you don’t want to spring for the Apple cables, the AmazonBasics Apple Certified Lightning Cable from Amazon are cheaper, stronger, and work really well.
While I like the Amazon brand, any certified cable should work, and a legitimate Apple Certified cable will usually have a “Made for iPhone / iPod / iPad” branding logo on it, kind of like a stamp of approval from Apple (you can read more about that here).
The Cable is Damaged
You may also see the “This cable or accessory is not certified and may not work reliably with this iPhone” error message with a damaged cable. This is particularly common if the charging cable has been submerged in water, corroded, or obviously damaged in any way, with fraying or chew marks that are clearly visible. If that’s the case, you’ll want to replace the cable anyway.
Again, the Amazon brand cables are good replacements and reasonably priced.
Less Likely, Something is Obstructing the Cable Charger or Port
A much less likely reason to see the error message, but still a possibility, is that something is physically obstructing the port or the charger. Basically if something is stuck or obstructed just enough to send a signal but not work properly, you may get the error message.
Most commonly however, is that something like pocket lint or pocket crud gets jammed in the port and will prevent charging from happening entirely, and in those situations you usually don’t get an error message at all because the port is so jammed that no current or signal is passed. This is more likely to happen with an iPhone, but I’ve seen it on an iPad where carpet lint and even Playdough was jammed in the charger port, and causing a periodic “not certified” message to show up. So check the ports and clean it out if you see anything in there, in some situations it can be a simple solution.