When looks trump function, though, you end up with designers opting for a particular aesthetic, even when it goes against the engineers’ advice -- or massive complaints from users. Simply put: an elegant design is more important to Apple than one that prolongs the life expectancy of a product.
So that, very likely, is why the chargers fray and fall apart -- and will continue to do so. It's not just because they want us to keep sinking money into replacement cords. One former Apple employee claims on Reddit that the Industrial Design team just hates the look of popular “strained relief”-style cords, which exist specifically to prevent cords from bending at harsh angles, and they insist on sticking with the more elegant-looking white brick with USB cord.
The other obnoxious thing at play here is that all the frustrated customers like myself are left pretty much optionless -- Apple cautions against using non-Apple chargers for laptops and iPhones because they can be detrimental to the machine and fry your battery.
So until Jony Ive and the rest of the Apple design team fall out of love with their darling charger designs, we may all just have to suck it up and be a little more careful.
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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. He has zero objections to strained relief-style cords.