2018 iPad Pro & the Mystery of Cables

From what I have gleaned, the supplied USB-C cable is not as fast (5 Mbps) as it could be for data transfer. My 2016 MacBook Pro, 2018 Mac mini & even my ASUS laptop are all USB-C equipped, so I am all in.

I do know that USB-C is just the connectors, and there can be a lot of difference in the actual cable. Since I have one of the LG 5K UltraFine displays, I know that it came with my one and only actual TB3 cable.

As a long time Apple customer, I still use iTunes for my iPad/iPhone backups, and iMazing, not to mention doing my iOS updates viTunes. So my belief is that I could benefit from a true Hi-speed cable.

So I am looking for input on confirmation of the data speed spec on that Apple cable, and a potential 10 Mbps cable from Anker to speed things up. I don’t think that my use case would benefit from TB3, but that is part of the mystery!

Federico Viticci clarified it on the latest Canvas podcast: The cable supplied by Apple in the box just supports USB 2.0 speeds. Therefore, you would see a speed increase by using a USB 3.1 cable. There are two USB 3.1 standards:

  1. USB 3.1 Gen 1 (sometimes referred to as SuperSpeed)
  2. USB 3.1 Gen 2 (sometimes referred to as SuperSpeed+)

I‘m not sure whether the difference between the two generations is noticable for your tasks but both standards will definitely be a lot faster than what the cable supplied in the box will offer.

Thunderbolt 3 is not supported by the iPad. So no speed benefits there.
As a side note: Even though the new iPad Pro supports external 5K displays, the LG UltraFine 5K will not work with it as it is a Thunderbolt 3 display. The iPad can only connect to USB-C monitors (same connector but different technology).

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Would really have broken the bank for Apple to have included a full speed cable?

They are in the habit of cheaping out on the supplied accessories unfortunately

Thank you for the added info. I will grab that podcast. I was aware that the Ultrafine is not compatible with the iPad.

I did get an Anker PowerLine USB-C to USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 Cable, so I have achieved something then, since it is rated at 5 Mbps.

Is the Gen 2 cable the one good for 10 Mbps?

AFAIK, there is actually a valid reason for including a USB 2.0 cable. Cables with USB 2.0 speed (as long as they are 1m or shorter) can be a lot thinner than the USB 3.1 cables. I have both the cable that came in the box as well as Apple‘s 2m charging cable (with is also just USB 2.0) and the difference is pretty big.

Considering that most people likely do not plug in their iPads to transfer data and just use it for charging, I think this might be the right call for most people. However, I find it frustrating that there are so many cables with hugely different specifications and often with no way to tell the difference by looking at them. This makes the USB-C world so much more complicated - especially for people who are not power users and who (justifiably) expect a cable that fits in a port to just work.

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Yes, a Gen 2 cable would provide support for 10 Gbps.

I just did some research: If you wanted an Anker USB 3.1 Gen 2 cable, you would have to buy their Thunderbolt 3 cable which is backwards compatible with USB 3.1 Gen 2. However, at $30 this is much more expensive than a USB 3.1 Gen 1 cable. For me, this would not be worth the extra cash. Especially as these are theoretical speeds which means that the real-world benefit is probably a lot smaller. And if you wanted to transfer data from an external USB hard drive and not from the internal SSD of you Mac, there would very likely be no benefit at all.

The differences between Gen 1 and 2 are more important if you want to connect external displays because I believe for a 5K display you need Gen 2.

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