USB cables, braided or silicone

As you know, usb is being used more and more. Europe wants all small electronics to have usb port for power.
I think this is good because some devices can share the same cable.
But then it means usb cables will get more wear, so I think we need better made usb cables.
I was looking on Aliexpress and I’ve come across some usb charging cables that have silicone insulation. They are very flexible and silicone is supposed to withstand a high temperature range.
Then there are the braided cables that are supposed to be more durable.
What do you guys prefer and why?

For whatever type of cord I'm after, I frequently try to get nylon braided cords.

I also try to get cords that have good customer feedback like on Amazon or AliExpress.

The braided cords that I have bought are more durable and nicer than regular cords.

I don't think I've tried silicone insulated cords, but I could be wrong.

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Braided cables are mostly for the look and feel. They might be slightly more abrasion resistant, but that was never an issue for me. Most important is a very good strain relief and kink protection. Never found a good one that was not too expensive.

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The copper inside (or more often the lack of same :person_facepalming: = high resistance), the quality of the connectors (sloppy connections that wear easily), and the strain relief. IMO, after that braided or silicone doesn’t matter, mostly preference. If you don’t have the ‘working’ qualities, what covers them becomes inconsequential.

For charging stuff, I try to look for a thicker gauge wire. Often not listed or lied about in the specs.
All the best,

Important specifications for charging are the wattage rating wire gauge and quality of the connector. I match these to the device. While one can use a 100 watt cable to charge an 18 watt phone this is not convenient due to bulk and stiffness. Consider that legacy USB was limited to 5.2V. As wattage increased a limitation in power handling was reached. By increasing allowable voltage this was overcome and lighter gauge cables could still be used up to a point.

Also consider that with 5V-only devices the voltage drop seen in longer cables reduces charging efficiency and increases charging time. A good example is older GoPro cables. These are heavy gauge and quite short which is why I collect them. Many rechargeable flashlights are also 5V only and many charge faster with a GoPro cable or similar especially if the device is 5V and 2-3 amp capable.

Connector: Type C specification physical size is not adhered to. The outer shell is either too large and can stretch the port or undersized and not fit well. Better tips are one piece without seams.

Consumers want Type C ports. There is no electrical advantage in eliminating USB mico B for small low wattage 5V-only devices. Implementing the change over has actually resulted in performance issues such as we see with some flashlights. There is an easy way to charge micro B port devices with a C to C cable using a tiny C-micro B adapter held captive on one end of a C-C cable but the proper Type C ac adapter must be used.

The cables that cost $2- $3 are all the same decent Chinese crap. Good for phone charging and basic stuff, all low current applications.

I didn’t even know silicone usb cables existed until about six months ago - or rather, I’d heard of them but assumed they were kind of the normal sheathing until I held one in hand. They’re a thing of beauty really, super supple and flexible. That said, both of mine seemed to be well constructed at the connector ends but both died very early deaths with pretty minimal use. Uncharacteristically for me, I tossed them after determining conductivity was broken and didn’t take them apart for a look, but I suspect that the wires must be very fine, perhaps not top grade copper and/or just not robust enough to handle the extra flexion the soft silicone allows. I don’t think I’ll buy another one unless I find out there are some on the market that are more dependable.

The key points, other than port/connector standards adherence, are the quality and size of the conductors…then strain relief…then sheathing or jacketing. Braiding does little good if the sheathing is poor to begin with.

The old OEM Motorola and HTC cables were excellent but it seems like most these days are more fragile. I’ve had good luck with Anker so even though they’re overpriced I mostly stick with them. Had some good ones from Monoprice and Startech, and picked up a DeWalt cable at Home Depot a couple years ago that was surprisingly an excellent cable. Not sure if any of that helps you in Europe with what brands you may have available. Aliexpress is a real crap shoot when it comes to items like this.

Also picked up a very nice one in the “USB 4” 4K/100W/HD flavor last year from some CableDeconn brand on amazon which thus far is proving to be very nice although on the stiff side (aluminum connector housings, a tad bulky for some ports maybe, braided jacket, robust sheathing, very good strain relief if not a little longer/stiffer than would be desired for some devices like phones being used while connected). Pricey but I may pick up a couple more if I can find them at a discount or a lower price under some other brand.

Do you have a link to the silicone cables that died?

I don’t, sorry. One came with the Miniware hotplate (they do sell the cables separately) and the other was on a friend’s aliexpress order, no idea who he got it from and there was no branding. Miniware sent me a spare not long ago but I’ve not used it yet.

That said, after I posted here I started browsing amazon for these…doesn’t seem to be as much available there but Anker and a few others have some. They’re fatter than what I’ve had. I did come across this one with a 40% off flash deal which brought it down to $5.39, so I ordered it. 6’ but I’m not sure if it’s actually a 100W or a 20W with the conflicting mumbo jumbo on the page…we’ll see. The seller is Weduda and it looks like they’ve been on amazon for quite awhile…not sure if that “brand” is anywhere besides US amazon.

The Anker cables are very good, I have been using them for years and will continue to. Many of theirs list the wire gauge and they are accurate based on the cables I have killed and dismantled. Their strain relief also works very well. I mostly use their braided cables, but do have a few of thier A to C silicone cables. Oddly, our cats tend to chew the silicone cables and leave the braided cables alone.

I really like the Anker 641 cables (Formerly PowerLine Flow; I don’t like their new naming scheme though, heh). Really nice in the hand, durable, somewhat tangle-resistant.

I’ll use those for my stuff when travelling etc, especially a short cable in a minimal carry. In general, past that I ten to just buy any decent quality USB cables, usually braided ones if they’ll get a lot of use or me moved around a lot, like the ones at my desk.

I like the Anker braided cables. The silicone cables are more difficult to untangle where the braided slide more easily apart without sticking together. The Anker also seem to have more durable ends on them compared to other brands I used to use.

It is a wrong tactic to chose a cable, silicone or braided is irrelevant, I had pretty much all types of cables, all have same lifespan, about 1-2 years if used daily. some went sooner, some failed to work, yet they looked intact from the outside. cheap quality internal wires failed.
The best cables are apple cables, they have thick gauge wires inside, that allow 3+ amps charging, and they are braided under the vinyl shield.

Funny, the ones I receive with my work laptops (only iProducts I ever use) tend to break within 6-12 months just with normal light travel in a backpack (so I keep them at my desk and bring an Anker or other high quality cable when out). I don’t think they’re bargain basement quality, but they’re definitely at the level of being a $10 cable sold for $40 (like everything else apple sells…).

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it is funny, ours lasts for 3-4 years minimum, some are still going strong after 10 years. (my iphone 4 still used for games) I suspect the reason why yours fail, is not the cables themselves.