Tangle-free magnetic USB cables are here


Tangle-free magnetic USB cables are here

What if your cable could stick magnetically? eventhat forms a neat coil that won’t go completely limp and get tangled up in your drawers and pockets? What if they were also good cables that could charge and sync anything via USB-C, Lightning and more?

Well… you can now buy USB cables that do that first part! And they’re cool enough that I really wish the cable makers would figure out the rest of this shit.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been testing some really nifty USB cables that can actually do the magnet snake trick. Originally brought to the attention of the English-speaking world by a brand called SuperCalla, they are now sold by a whole range of no-name brands such as Amazon and Alibaba. And they’re incredible fidget toys, just like SuperCalla’s Indiegogo campaign promised over two years ago:

Image: Super Calla

As you can see in my photo below, they wrap just like the GIF! They’re not exactly “self-winding” as some sellers claim, but the two meter long ones are definitely easy to wind.

Your coil can be taller or wider depending on how many magnets there are per circle – but just those two meter cables will give you enough to work with.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

They work by threading magnetic beads and silicone sleeves onto a thin cable like this:

See, it’s just a magnetic bead when you pull away the silicone case. Both float freely on the cable.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

You can also stay with yourself in other ways:

You can double a cable on itself.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

And of course you can attach them to all sorts of other ferrous metal objects and spend as much cable as you need. I currently have one of these cables hanging from my metal mic stand, another dangling from the corner of my wall, and another neatly trailing along the edge of my keyboard while charging my phone:

The magnets stick to the steel deck of my Razer keyboard. This would not work with an Apple keyboard, for example, since it is made of aluminum.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

Ready to catch? I’ve bought four different types of these cables, and they all suck big time (that’s a technical term) when transferring data, when charging, or both.

This one, which also has its own built-in blue LED light and magnetic interchangeable tips for USB-C, Micro-USB, and Lightning, won’t charge most of my USB-C devices at all, but I was able to sling some files from an external one drive with lackluster USB 2.0 speeds and charge my iPhone via Lightning. It also has super weak winding magnets and feels even cheaper than the others.

Magnets on magnets.

This USB-C to USB-C device was pretty decent when charging and gave me 65W of USB-C PD power and had the best magnets of the bunch — but it wouldn’t connect to a Pixel 4A phone or my external USB-C drive at all. They just didn’t show up on my desktop!

This USB-A to USB-C cable was the worst of them all. A simple wiggle disconnected everything I had plugged in and it charged at 10W – not the 15-18W I usually see on my Pixel.

Finally, this USB-A to Lightning cable appears to be a SuperCalla cable that comes in an “Original SuperCalla” box, despite being sold by a brand called “Tech”. Slow loading, slow data, but at least it seems to stay reliably connected to my iPhone so far.

But those aren’t the only types of magnetic cables I’ve found. I also bought this lovely accordion which is perhaps best of all: I charged 15w and it feels better built than the others.

The accordion cable can become twisted when you pull it apart.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

But it’s less fun to play with, the magnets aren’t that strong, and it has a bit of an odd shape when it’s fully extended because the hinges are always sticking out. It also achieves USB 2.0 speeds of 480 Mbit/s (or around 42 MB/s in practice). I couldn’t find a C-to-C or Lightning version.

I would definitely pay good money for a solid, reliable, two-meter USB-C to USB-C easy-coil cable with powerful magnets, 100W USB-C PD charging, and at least 10Gbps /s Pay for USB 3.x bandwidth.

However, the flexible ligaments and joints feel durable.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

Or, if I’m really dreaming, how about 40 Gbps for USB 4? Let’s go all out and craft the ultimate cable – add a built-in power meter while you’re at it.

Right now I’ve only found these cheap $10 novelty cables and that’s a real shame. The magnet design deserves better, and so do we.

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