The products and services mentioned below were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Don't Waste Your Money may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer's website.
Have you ever gotten a great deal on an Apple accessory—say a charging cable or a speaker—only to get the thing home and find it doesn’t work with your iPad or iPhone? It’s such a frustrating experience. But, you can prevent it from happening to you again.
Before you buy any accessories for Apple products, look for a sticker on the packaging that indicates it is “Made For iPod iPhone iPad” (like the one shown below). Products may also be labeled “MFi” or “MFi Certified.”
Apple started the MFi certification program back in 2005 to provide a way for third-party developers to assure consumers that the accessories they were selling would be compatible with Apple devices. The MFi certification was initially only for docks and cables, but has since been expanded to include speakers, smart home devices and other accessories.
However, not every company that creates Apple accessories is MFi certified. And consumers are paying for it.
In order for developers to become MFi-certified, they have to pay a fee to the program. With that fee, developers can place the sticker on their product boxes to let consumers know that their product definitely works with iPhones, iPads and iPods. But, in an attempt to cut costs and remain competitive in the marketplace, some smaller companies decide not to pay for the certification program.
If you buy an uncertified product, there’s no guarantee it’s going to work with your Apple product. For instance, there have been multiple complaints about Lightning cables not working on Apple devices. Sure, these cables are cheaper, but if they don’t work at all, well, then you didn’t really score a great deal in the end.
Not every accessory you use with Apple products has to be certified. For instance, if you have Bluetooth headphones or keyboards, those products don’t necessarily need to have the MFi sticker because Bluetooth is a universal product.
As a consumer, though, the best way to protect yourself is to look for boxes with the MFi sticker. Yes, MFi-certified accessories are going to cost a few dollars more than those without the guarantee.
But, least you won’t get stuck with a dead iPhone battery and a cheap charging cable that doesn’t work. And that—as anybody who’s ever been unable to revive their dead phone at the worst possible moment knows—is priceless.