AmazonBasics cables: How do they compare for Australians?

Amazon has launched its AmazonBasics range of everyday household items in Australia, including HDMI, USB and Lightning cables. Here’s how three of its most popular cables stack up to Aussie alternatives.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

What is AmazonBasics?

AmazonBasics is Amazon’s generic brand of household items, launched in the US in 2009. In the States the AmazonBasics line of products is huge, covering more than 1,200 items from kitchen knives to gaming headsets. While its line of meat marinade injectors or boat covers might not interest too many Australians, bargain-priced cables will definitely appeal - if Amazon can deliver.

Now that AmazonBasics has launched in Australia we wanted to know if their cables would be cheaper than existing Australian providers, so we crunched the numbers.

We ordered some AmazonBasics cables on the first day Amazon Australia launched! Watch the unboxing below

 

How do AmazonBasics cables compare on price?

In the US, AmazonBasics launched with electronics, and in particular its popular line of cables for USB, HDMI and Lightning connectors. For this comparison, we looked at the AmazonBasics Lightning to USB-A, USB-C to USB-A and HDMI cables, and compared the prices Amazon Australia charges with what's available from major Australian retailers, including Kmart, Kogan, Officeworks, Big W, Target, JB Hi-Fi and Bunnings.

Prices were compared on 5 December 2017. Shipping prices were calculated to the Sydney CBD for products from that were only available online. We looked at regular prices and ignored any temporary specials.

Lightning to USB-A cables compared: Amazon's in the middle

Apple's Lightning cables (used for many older model iPhones and iPads) have two major annoyances: they're expensive, and ideally they need to be qualified by Apple's MFi (Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod) certification scheme. Fortunately, AmazonBasic's cables qualify under the scheme. You can spot an MFi-certified cable from the image on the box:

MFi label

We compared the "official" 1m Apple Lightning to USB-A cable with the 90cm AmazonBasics equivalent, as well as other Apple MFi-certified cables around 1m in length available in Australia.

In our comparison of products from 16 stores, we found the cheapest MFi-certified Lightning to USB-A cable at Kmart, priced at $8. A 2-metre cable is available for $10. The second cheapest was Target’s 1.2m Premium Alloy Lightning Cable at $15. The most expensive cable in our comparison was the Belkin Mixit DuraTek Lightning from Apple, costing $44.95.

How did Amazon rank? The 90cm AmazonBasics Lightning to USB-A cable slotted in just after Energizer's offering from Woolworths, with a price of $20.98 once shipped to our Sydney office. If you're able to get free shipping on your order by spending over Amazon's $49 threshold, this cable slots into second place.

If you’re after an Apple-branded Lightning to USB-A cable, Kogan and Dick Smith had the lowest price, charging $18 for the 1m cable with free shipping. A 2m cable was only $1 more at $19. (The matching prices aren't surprising, as Kogan now owns the Dick Smith brand.)

It’s difficult to measure the quality of one MFi-certified cable over another, but one factor you can consider is user reviews. The AmazonBasics Lightning cable has a rating of 4 stars from over 50,000 user reviews.

ProductRetailerPriceShipping (if online only)Final priceLength (m)
White USB to Lightning Cable (1m)Kmart$80$81
Target Premium Alloy Lightning Cable - 1.2M - Rose GoldTarget$150$151.2
Apple Lightning to USB Cable (1m)Kogan & Dick Smith$180$181
Energizer Hightec Lightning Cable Blue 1.2m eachWoolworths$200$201.2
AmazonBasics Lightning to USB A Cable - Apple MFi Certified - White - 3 feet / 0.9 metresAmazon$14.99$5.99$20.980.9
Cygnett Source 1M Lightning to USB Flexible CableJb Hi Fi$22.950$22.951
Gecko USB to Lighting CableBig W$240$241.2
Belkin Lightning Usb Cable - PurpleBig W$240$241.2
Belkin Mixit Up Lightning to USB 1.2m ChargeSync Cable - BlueHarvey norman$240$241.2
Alogic 1m USB to Lightning Cable - BlackHarvey norman$22.45$5$27.451

HDMI cables compared: Amazon's a dud

Another popular product in the AmazonBasics lineup is the humble HDMI cable. Amazon offers HDMI cables in lengths ranging from 90cm all the way up to 15m. The cables support ethernet and meet the latest HDMI standards, including 4K video support. They are also gold-plated (gold conductive ends won't oxidise like copper can, which reduces performance in the long term). Amazon's HDMI cables have mostly positive reviews with a 4.5 star rating from over 13,000 customer reviews.

We compared the 0.9 metre version with other similar products from Australian retailers. In our comparison of cables between 1 - 1.5m long available through Kogan, Officeworks, Jaycar, Bunnings, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Cablechick, Kmart and Woolworths the 0.9m AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable slotted in at a not-very-competitive 9th place, with a final price of $16.98. If free shipping is secured this bumps the cable up to fourth place.

First place went to Officeworks’ 1.5m Comsol HDMI cable at $3.98. In second place is Jaycar with its 1.5m Bargain HDMI 2.0 cable priced at $8.95.

ProductRetailerPriceShipping price (if online only)Final priceLength (m)HDMI standard
Comsol HDMI Cable 4K 1.5mOfficeworks$3.980$3.981.52
Bargain HDMI Cable 1.5m V2.0Jaycar$8.950$8.951.52
HDMI Cable - 1.5MKmart$100$101.51.4
HDMI Cable with Rotating Plugs 1.5mJaycar$13.950$13.951.51.3
Crest High Speed HDMI Cable (1M)JB Hi-Fi$14.990$14.9911.4
Jackson Hdmi Cable 1.5m eachWoolworths$150$151.5
Antsig 1.5m Gold Heavy Duty HDMI CableBunnings$15.40$15.41.52
Alogic 1m Pro Series High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet V2Harvey Norman$11$5$1612
AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable 0.9MAmazon$10.99$5.99$16.980.92
Economy HDMI 1.4 Cable 1.5mJaycar$17.950$17.951.51.4

If you want to waste a lot of money, the Monster Black Platinum Ultimate 5ft HDMI Cable with Ethernet from Harvey Norman costs $159. This cable supports transfer speeds up to 27Gbps.

Remember that comparing HDMI cables only on price won't tell the whole story. HDMI standards have changed over time, with the more recent 2.0 standard allowing for greater bandwidth and therefore higher frame rates in some situations over the older 1.4 standard. Regardless, right now AmazonBasics is not looking like a great deal for HDMI, even without considering shipping costs.

USB-C to USB-A cables: Amazon's in the middle

With many recent smartphones featuring USB-C ports, USB-C to USB-A cables are getting more popular.

The AmazonBasics USB Type C to USB A 2.0 Male Cable offers up to 480 Mbps transfer speeds. It also has a 1-year limited warranty.

There are currently three main USB versions being used in Type-C cables: USB 2.0. USB 3.0 and USB 3.1. USB 3.2 was recently announced but isn’t widely supported. The main differences between the older 2.0 version and newer 3.0, 3.1 and 3.2 versions are increased transfer speeds and the option for increased power delivery to help with charging.

In our comparison Kmart again came in as the cheapest at $8 for a 1m cable. Harvey Norman took second place with its Alogic cable. The final cable to round out the top three was another product from Kogan, the Kogan USB Type-C Braided Charging Data Cable (1m) with a price of $15 (and free shipping).

The AmazonBasics 90cm cable came in at 5th place with a final price of $17.98 once shipped to our office. If you can get free shipping the AmazonBasics cable shifts up to second place.

ProductRetailerPriceShipping (if online only)Final priceLength (m)
USB to USB-C CableKmart$80$81
Alogic 1m USB-A to USB-C CableHarvey Norman$9.95$5$14.951
Kogan USB Type-C Braided Charging Data Cable (1m)Kogan$15$0$151
Astrotek USB-C 3.1 Type-C Male to USB 3.0 Type A Male Cable 1mKogan$7.22$9$16.221
AmazonBasics USB Type-C to USB-A 2.0 Male Cable - (0.9 Meters) - Colour WhiteAmazon$11.99$5.99$17.980.9
Anker PowerLine USB-C to USB 3.0 0.9m Black (A8163H11)Kogan$190$190.9
Gecko USB-C to USB Flat Cable 1.2m - WhiteBig W$190$191.2
Comsol USB Type-C to Type-A Male Cable 1mOfficeworks$19.880$19.881
Energizer Usb-c 2.0 Usb Cable 1.2m Black eachWoolworths$200$201.2
Alogic 1m USB 2.0 USB-A (Male) to USB-C (Male) Cable - SilverHarvey Norman$15.95$5$20.951

The AmazonBasics USB Type C to USB A 2.0 Male Cable has a 4.5 star rating from 237 customer reviews.

Will AmazonBasics’ cables shake up the Australian cable market?

AmazonBasics cables generally have positive reviews and a warm reception from users, but they probably won’t shake up the market much in Australia initially. This all changes if you score free shipping on your order by spending over a certain amount (which at the time of writing was $49). If free shipping is secured on your Amazon purchase then these cables become much more competitive, and in two cases make it to second place.

One of the most interesting findings from this comparison is that more budget-friendly retailers like Kmart are offering cables that match the current top standards. Kmart’s products took out many top spots for the cheapest cables in our three comparisons. In some cases these products may not use the most current standards (e.g for HDMI and USB-C cables), but the Lightning to USB cable does abide by the Apple MFi certification.

The lesson? Shop around. Right now, AmazonBasics doesn't look like it's the cheapest option, but the wide variations we've seen suggest that there are definitely bargains to be had.

For more information about Amazon Australia head over to our hub.

Pictures: Shutterstock

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