Ratty Lightning cables bricked my phone, or did they?

Broken Apple Lightning charging cable

I don’t do the hypebeast-y things you’re “supposed” to do as a tech nerd, like watch Apple keynotes or install new software versions the millisecond they drop. So when I had the bright idea to finally update my phone to iOS 14, but then got an Error Code 14, I was stuck with a bricked iPhone for 24 hours.

Was it liberating not having a phone at the time? I would’ve luxuriated in it more, were I not stressed about other things—critical work stuff; typhoons about to hit the country for the nth time this month; power and internet outage. No big deal /s. I had to decide quickly what my next move was.

I was also set on getting the Anker Powerline, specifically during the 11.11 sale, but this fustercluck forced my hand to find something immediately instead of enjoying the free shipping and sweet discount.

So when I decided to play it safe and purchase the Apple-branded one—notorious for being the flimsiest and most overpriced accessory out there—and I STILL got the same Error Code 14?

It’s what us Filipinos call a budol.

OK but what does Error Code 14 mean

When you get the error dialog, the “More info” goes to this list of things to check, specifically under the heading “USB connections”.

Which led me to fixating on the reliability of my cables. The Apple one was on its last legs: the rubber casing crumbled to expose the wires, and the plastic case cracked. I had another, supposedly MFI, that gets the “Not Charging” and “This accessory may not be supported” rejections with increasing frequency.

But they’ve been chugging along for the most part, even with data transfer, like when I use an iDevice as a webcam with Reincubate Camo.

Back to troubleshooting

I considered booking a service center appointment, the nearest being 4 kilometers and 24 hours away. Or pick up a feature phone and live like that for a while.

Then I decided to carpe diem and choose the other option, Restore, which would wipe my phone and needed to be rebuilt from a backup.

After lots of waiting and verification, it eventually worked. I got it back to a good state like nothing bad happened.

So it got me wondering.

Did I really need a different, new Apple cable?

If my existing cables were in significantly better condition, I would’ve immediately thought no.

If the brand new cable still gave an Error Code 14, then it wasn’t the quality of the cable.

Back on the support page, there were additional possibilities mentioned like software versions, third-party security, and other hardware. Too many factors to test one by one, so now I’ll never know.

But I’ll go ahead and justify my purchase as long overdue. An ecosystem tax I’ve put off as long as I could.

And this whole post is probably just a lengthy, typed out, public reminder to myself that if you run into an error with a company that for some reason still requires going through iTunes to do an update, maybe it’s not so bad.

Try the other option; just make sure you got a good backup.


Do I want to do those uber customizations that iOS 14 widgets will let you? Yes, I am sorely tempted. Did this incident make me want to change phones already? Not so much.

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