Apple's iPhone 5 includes a new Lightning cable that drops the number of available pins from 30 down to eight. Besides its smaller size, the new cable is also reversible and lets you insert the plug without worrying whether it's facing the right way. Apple says the cable has "an adaptive interface," but doesn't provide any additional information on this feature. Thanks to Apple Insider, which collaborated with cable expert Peter from Double Helix cables, we now know a few more details on how this adaptive interface works.
According to the report, the Lightning port determines which type of data is being sent and likely uses the authentication chip within the cable to dynamically assign pins based on the cable's orientation. No matter how you insert the cable, the correct pin assignment is always applied.
This is convenient for users, but it could prove costly over the along run. Third-party cables offer a less expansive alternative to Apple's pricey cables, but these 8-pin cables could be rendered useless if they lack the necessary authentication chip.
You can read more about the pin assignments and the authentication chip in the article at Apple Insider.