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26th #USB #TypeC analysis & critique: the 5A, eMarked Apple MLL82AM/A USB-C 2.0 charge cable. [Model A1739]
tl;dr: This is the best "charge" cable I've ever seen. And Apple is trying to slip this post-recall refresh under the radar!

This post is going to be long and go on a number of tangents. But let me state up front: this cable can do 5a and is eMarked. It will work great with every USB-C product out there, for charging. It also solves the theoretical "Macbook Pro 2016 charging" problem. I recommend it for the Pixel over even the Google OEM cables. Finally, Apple is trying to slip by this cable update completely unannounced because it highlights earlier missteps they made.

If that's all you came for, turn back now. Remember to get the rectangular box, not the square box!

(PSA:) f you have an existing Apple 2m charge cord, check for a serial #. If it lacks one, please exchange it under the "voluntary" recall.

[PDF of Compliance Checklist for Apple MLL82AM/A (A1739)]


The Silent Update.

Apple wants as little fanfare around this cable as possible, even though it is amazing. It is eMarked, 5a rated, very long, reliable, difficult to counterfeit,  easily-sourced from the Apple Store, cheap at $20, with excellent performance. It is so suspiciously good it makes me wonder if Apple is intentionally trying to flood the market with GOOD cables to counteract all the BAD ones.

They likely wants to keep it quiet because the mere fact it exists highlights dead-end decisions and mistakes Apple previously made with USB-C.

In fact, they have silently pulled all of the previous model [MJWHT2AM/A] off shelves and gave the new one [MLL82AM/A] the same exact name, removed any mention of the square-box from their site, bad reviews and all, and "suggest" the rectangular-box in its place. (See the screenshots provided.) It is not even described in the tech specs. That's quite confusing!

The only external change is the size/shape of the box and a serial number prefix. Internally however, the capabilities of the new cable are massively improved. For ease of understanding, on I'll refer to the old 3a [MJWT2AM/A] as "square-box" and the updated 5a [MLL82AM/A] as "rectangular-box".

If you are shopping, DO NOT buy the outdated 3a square-box model! There's currently no warning about this except from myself.

Unfortunately, the square-boxes are still being sold at Best Buy and retailers. To make matters worse they are almost 1.5x more expensive than if you simply went to an Apple Store and bought the BETTER rectangular-box version. (See screenshots.)


Why didn't you mention this sooner?

You may recall I never thought too highly of Apple's USB-C 2.0 Charge Cable. I kept calling it an "inferior 3A cord" -- because way back in June when I tested it in-store, it WAS!

My local Apple Store (and the Palo Alto one) only had square-boxes. These were, to the best of my knowledge and skill, 3A and non-eMarked: for use with the noncompliant, grandfathered, 29W/14.5v Macbook and charger. There were numerous problems with these as evidenced by the terrible reviews. (See screenshots.)

Eventually Apple initiated a "voluntary exchange program" (i.e. only fixed if you ask), changed the manufacture, plus added a serial number on the side. However they were still only 3A.

       Issue #1: Apple (used to) make bad cables.


How to troll hardware engineers for fun and profit

This is where it gets interesting -- and how I got completely trolled, hence propagated bad data. I sincerely apologize for that. This makes a good case study for what pitfalls to avoid while troubleshooting.

When I went in-store to test the Apple cable (July 3rd), I did what any reserved customer would do and used their floor models to run tests on my 6P. They did not have a USB-C cable in their Genius Bar, and did not want to open a 29W charger.

But look carefully at the image provided: the cables Apple sells to the public are NOT the same ones they use in-store!

I'll call these new cables "security cables". They have a little wire extension coming out of the plug that goes onto a pad on the Macbook to prevent people from walking off with them. It's terribly ineffective, but then again it's just there as a polite reminder. (Apple Stores generally are very generous about letting you "try out" products -- to the point they'd rather let you 'try an iPhone 7 in your purse' and risk you walking off with it. Kudos to them for that conviction.)

As a result, when I was probing the floor model and getting data (July 3rd), I didn't see an eMarker -- and my conclusion was made. I went back recently (November 3rd) to check out the updated cable after reports from +Brad Cox  ( +Ventev Mobile ) about the 87W Macbook Pro adapter on +Benson Leung 's Plus thread. This problematic security cable was still being used! They still haven't updated the cables on the floor models.

       Issue #2: floor models that are not the same as what customers are sold.
       Please see the USB-PD traffic dumps from the Twinkie. Also note the complete lack of response to eMarker probe commands in the screenshots.
This lack of replacement is likely because they are "specialty built". It would not make sense for Apple to re-create them simply the post-recall cable design. Similar situations can be witnessed in how Apple Stores still use iPhone 5s in their portable credit card scanners.

However, this also means floor model Macbooks are limited to 60W (3a), and the cables on display have the same problems as the square-box recalled mode. This is the data which showed up in my tests.


Why would they be silent about an amazing product refresh?

I suspect this is since Apple realized their proprietary decisions (14.5v, C-to-Lightning, proprietary pin methods) were highly standards-noncompliant and were causing a mess in the ecosystem.

My citations for this are as follows: (a) the initial cable recall, (b) a firmware update they pushed for their USB-C AV adapters, and (c) problems users are having finding ANY third-party chargers that can fast-charge an iPad Pro, or function well with Apple products.

        Issue #3: Apple painted themselves into a corner. They set up an ecosystem based on proprietary wackiness, so now they had to sleep in it.

As a result, there is a glut of poorly-made, spec-violating, defective, "compatible with Apple"  chargers, AV-port adapters, and charge-through hubs on the market -- because manufacturers view "Apple is more important standards".

Apple isn't a saint. But if they are one thing, they are extremely precise. Even if non-standard their engineering usually follows the spec to the letter... painfully so sometimes. In other words, "Apple doesn't play dice." (Yet I must admit other times they are completely Mad as a Hatter.)

 My citations for the above are:
(a) how the C-to-Lightning cable will not charge an iPad when connected to a non-perfect supply,
(b) how the Apple 29W charger has the paperwork to be "grandfathered" with the USB-IF as USB-C compliant,
(c) how Apple "invented" a seamless power swap technique before PD3.0,
(d) how the 29W charger uses a constant-current source for CC negotiation,

Since Apple figuratively painted themselves into a corner, and their existing cables lacked chips, they couldn't make use of >60W compliant partners. [*cough* Intel Thunderbolt 3 *cough*]. Plus, they already had a bunch of these 3a Apple branded square-box cords floating around. Apple couldn't very well make their brand-new product (Macbook Pro 2016) incompatible with cables they themselves released, then had to recall and replace once already.

Enter the silent refresh approach.

In preparation for the Macbook Pro 2016, before they are even hitting the floor, Apple is taking what I would call very aggressive steps to flush the old cables out of the system. Unfortunately, this has had the side effect that eBay and secondary markets are flooded with "bad" square-box cables right now. Best Buy is only selling square-boxes. The rectangular-box is listed as "Preorder".

This exemplifies something I really dislike: old, not-well-made products are being "flushed" to consumers without warning, rather than have the situation clearly explained, or being disposed of responsibly.

Given this mad dash for compliance, I'm supremely surprised Apple still decided to break with the USB-C Power Rules for their 60/87W chargers. (5v/2.4a 9v/3a 20v/3a. 15v is missing. 5v is only 2.4a not 3a.) I'm thinking these are the last vestiges of their prior indiscretions.

Perhaps the wiring in their C-to-Lightning adapter is only physically capable of 2.4a safely? Perhaps their Apple-DRM chips will only acknowledge devices with the PDOs mimicking their first, "no-longer-compliant" 29W charger? This would explain how some noncompliant clones are working, but legitimately engineered third party solutions are not.


In conclusion -- and back on-topic -- this 5a cord leaves two concerns:

        (1) How is Apple going to address the 3a square-box cords already in the market?
        Free exchange "only if you ask"? Or "only if you own a Macbook Pro"? Or "model updates happen all the time, just buy a new cable" (deal with it)?
        (2) Is Apple going to re-engineer the "security cables" to use the new 5A design?
        If you think about it, if they do not, they will have to secure the Macbook Pro 2016 another way. Such as chaining it to a desk. But that would be un-sightly, and un-Appley. I suspect they'll just leave it untethered, or worst case, they'll do the same thing that trolled me -- and use the old 3a "security cable" on the 87w Macbook Pro 15".
I'm likely completely off base with all my speculation above. Apple isn't exactly transparent. But Benson and I support the open-spec because it permits consistent, well-defined behavior. As a result I don't like delving into the mysterium of Apple proprietary too much. But in this case, with the "rectangular-box" cable, they've hit it clean out of the park.

Christopher May's profile photoConnor Brooks's profile photopaul poco's profile photoNathan K.'s profile photo
Will this be added to your pixel recommendation sheet?
+Alex Hatzenbuhler Yes. This cable is a "+3: Take my money."  Google's cords are demoted to "+2:Nice".  People can walk to a local store and get one easily. They're $19 [-$6 cheaper]. Longer. eMarked. Carry more  current at a lower drop.

See my PDF of test results vs N6P OEM. Relative IR drop is NEGATIVE. On a 2m cord. That's bonkers.

Well, if you want just a "charging" cord that is. Data is a separate matter.

AFAIK there are no 5a/100w TB3 cords (period) or 2m-long 5a/100w USB3.1 cords. Closest is 60w 2m [TB3 20gbps+USB3.1Gen1 5 bps] Plugable Thunderbolt 3 cord.

Cable Matters also makes a 2m TB3 cord but I'm really skittish about some engineering decisions they made. So I wouldn't recommend it to a friend.
Something is seriously wrong if a $20 cable is considered cheap. Sorry. Especially with these tiny ports (I assume they are just as fragile as miniDP, so break up to 4 times a year...).

I'd rather have bigger more solid connectors instead of these tiny fragile beasts.
+Nathan K. Awesome, I think I'll be picking one of these up later today. I have been looking for a longer cable. Thanks for the all the work!

+Julian Andres Klode If I said "I'm selling a prefabbed programmable 32bit ARM Cortex-M0 controller in an RF qualified housing for $20" would you take me more seriously? eMarked cables are significantly harder to pull off than "dumb copper" cables. Especially well-engineered ones that come from a company with a worldwide distribution and retail store network second to none. I factor all that into account. $20 is a steal.
Well, the price is OK if it is durable enough. I would not want to buy 4 of them per year because they break every 3 months. :)

With miniDP I eventually gave up and bought a used docking station and a keyboard for my laptop, so I can connect it to my screen without my pile of cables with broken connectors growing larger every few months :/

After that experience, I just don't trust any cables anymore :(
+Julian Andres Klode I think USB-C is rated for 10,000 insertions? Don't quote me. Another reason I recommend it highly is it's Apple. If you are worried about durability, don't be. They are OCD about quality control. If only they would devote the full power of their capabilities as an org towards cooperation instead of their proprietary nonsense.
+Nathan K.
Great investigation work and I praise you for going in this much detail and research. I'm shocked these stores are that open to you bringing your gadgets in and testing with their product.

A couple comments:
$20 is crazy cheap for a 2m charging cable especially one that is 5A capable and made my Apple (typically much more expensive).

I wonder if them claiming there is intermittent issues with the older C-C 2m charging cable is also allowing them to secretly remove a product off of the market. Having one C-C cable makes shopping much easier for the consumer. Makes me think since there is only 1 charging cable they sell, it only takes up one peg on the wall and it simplifies buying for the consumer and Apple "Geniuses" by not needing to know, I need to buy the 3A cable for this MBP or power supply and the 5A cable for that MBP or power supply. This is all speculation of course.

If there isn't any major design issues with the 3A cable and I assume there isn't since it is a voluntary recall, the 3A cable can still be used with both 61W and 87W supplies. The only difference is using the 3A rated cable with the 87W will only result in a maximum of 61W from the 87W charger.

What I think is strange about the whole situation is that they left out the 15V profile on the MBP chargers. So now their USB-C chargers are 29W (5V/2.4A, 14.5V@2A), 61W (5V/2.4A, 9V/3A, 20V/3A), and 87W (5V/2.4A, 9V/3A, 20V/4.3A). Last night I tested the iPad Pro 12.9" with the 61W and 87W and both of them charged the iPad Pro at 9V @ 1.8A with iPad at 19%. The 12" MacBook at 5% charges at 20V @ 1.3 A with the 61W power supply.

I checked the cable from the 12" MacBook that I purchased in April 2016 and it is a 3A rated cable as it only registers 20V@3A with the 87W supply. The overmold on the cable is also larger for the cable shipped with the MacBook Pro, see the images below. This is likely due to the e-Marker in the MacBook Pro cable whereas the 12" MacBook cable doesn't have an e-Marker.

The other interesting thing I noticed was the cable that shipped with MBP doesn't have all the pins in the Type C connector. It seems it's missing pins for the high speed data lines and the SBU pins. Not sure if this is required or not for certification but this is different than the cable that shipped with the 12" MacBook, that cable had 24 pins.

On a side tangent Apple has also recently dropped a lot of prices on USB-C accessories due to some backlash from MBP users complaining about needing adapters to use legacy devices. Check out the link below. - Apple cuts USB-C adapter prices in response to MacBook Pro complaints
+Brad Cox The Apple Store isn't "open" or "not open" to me testing. :) In fact, I like the Microsoft Store better. In any case I only prefer testing products I can afford, but I am running into budget problems.

When I went I just said "can I plug in my stuff into the demo model to see if it works?" and they said OK. I used my Surface Pro 3 with a Twinkie. The Twinkie is very covert. :)

I'd only bring the lab-grade stuff if I were at a MS Store, and only under exigent circumstances.
+Brad Cox Thank you for the excellent pictures! You should make a gallery/post about that, I'd love to reshare it giving you attribution!
+Brad Cox About your "12" MBA cable 24 pins" and "13" MBP clearly missing some pins": this actually shows Apple violating the USB-C spec I think. p.55/56 [3.2.3 Pin Assignments and Descriptions] ("Contacts B6 and B7 should not be present in the USB Type-C plug.").

I think this again shows Apple painting themselves into a corner with some proprietary shenanigans for the D+/D- lines on the other side (B5/B6)... I don't know what though exactly. My pin conductivity test doesn't highlight anything weird.
+Nathan K. The cable that is missing pins on the bottom row from left to right would be ground, Vbus, CC, d+, d-, Vbus ground. The pins missing would be Tx1-, Tx1+, SBU, and Rx2+, and Rx2-. Numbers might be a little off their but was just mentioning this as to what pins are missing, the SBU pins on both sides and the high speed lanes. And yea I'm not sure if this is required or not.
+Brad Cox I should be clear, the problem may be they have the USB D+/D- pins on the bottom, not lack them! However the wording is "should" not "shall" so I think it's just a suggestion.

A lot of cable makers ignore this and use 24 pins anyway -- including Google (Pixel). As long as they are not internally routed through, that's all that matters. ("Stub length" is a concern for electrical noise, and max length commented on in the spec.)

However, when they are depopulating pins, THEN you can scrutinize why they did or did not depopulate certain ones. +Benson Leung actually discovered a problem with the Samsung Note 7 A-to-C cable related to this that will cause it to "not work" on a Mac. So I'm starting to look at every design decision a lot more critically.
+Nathan K. I'm sure what Apple did is to the spec I just don't know for a fact, and it looks to me like USB 2.0 data pins are on both sides. 
For the 5A charging cable you should test Huawei's Mate 9 cable, because they claim that charging is done at 5v 5A 
Hopefully Apple will release USB-IF compliant (and, even better, also Certified) chargers in Autumn / Fall 2017!
+Michael Tan Per this video the Huawei Mate 9 is blatantly noncompliant. It uses USB Type-A charger to Type-C device and claims "converts voltage" at 5a over Type-A. So it is right out.

5a over Type-A is bad. "Converting voltages" over Type-A-to-C is worse. This is exactly why QuickCharge3.0 is banned. It is likely OK to stay within USB3.1 voltage thresholds. But anything outside that is not.

More proprietary cable/charger nonsense IMO. - Huawei Mate 9: Huawei SuperCharge
+Michael Tan More evidence the Huawei Mate 9 is noncompliant:

"With a new "SuperCharge" standard capable of not just the run-of-the-mill 9V/2A speeds, but also 3.5-5V / 5A charging for even quicker refills."

3.5v is outside the spec of permissible USB A-to-C "Vsafe5V" voltages. Again, you are not allowed to modulate voltages outside of USB-PD. Instead of high (QC) it is low (SuperCharge). In addition 5a is only permitted by the Power Rules at 60w+ (20v).

The Mate 9 may support USB-PD in addition, like the HTC10/LG G5 did, but as is, the charger they come with is noncompliant.
+Nathan K.​ It says specifically that it doesn't do voltage conversion. And if type A is not connected to a corresponding 'correct' receiver it doesn't allow 5A.

If the charger is intelligent enough to act as compliant type A if no compatible 'special' protocol detected, is it still considered non compliant? 
+Michael Tan It claims 3.5v voltage modulation over Type-C. Therefore bad. [11.4.5 Vbus Electrical Characteristics]. Also uses 5A over Type-A.Therefore bad. Also does not honor the normative USB-PD requirements of 25W power profile. Therefore bad. Please read the summary and review I linked above.

Also please review the rules in the USB-C spec about how devices may not break "power profiles" even if using [4.8.2 Non-USB charging methods] (p.174)

More fundamentally, you are arguing minutiae over the fundamental issue. The Mate 9's charger won't work on other USB-C products. The Mate 9 (may not) work on USB-PD chargers. This breaks the entire principle behind the USB-C standard.

The only permissible way for Huawei to do what it wants is to (a) not use USB-C or (b) use USB-PD at (1) many small voltage increments and use (2) negotiate these small changes using PD (3) have a 5v PD profile at 5a, (4) use eMarked 5a/100w USB-C-to-C cables, then  (5) also support [i.e. work 100% at] all NORMATIVE USB-PD levels at 25W (5v/3a 9v/2.78a) on both the (6) CHARGER and the (7) PHONE.

Huawei can do that voltage-thing if it wants, but it has to approach the problem form a COMPLETELY different way.
+Nathan K. you continue to produce invaluable work for the community and provide info that we would otherwise never know!

Would you mind if I condensed and relayed the information in your post in a Youtube video as a bit of a PSA?
+Graham Bae I appreciate your asking for permission, but this is publicly shared so you are free to comment however you'd like.
Sorry just trying to get a handle on this, I have an Apple USB-C Charging Lead 2m on order from a company. I emailed them to ask if it was in a square or rectangular box and they said "These cables are bulk packed and not in boxes". Now I have tried to follow the thread. I know that apple made a bad USB-C 3A cable which they have a voluntary replacement program for. Are the square box USB-C 3A cables those cables, or is their a legitmate USB-C 3A cable now as well as a USB-C 5A? Also pictures of text printed on the side of cables on apple replacement page has no serial number for the 3A bad lead, but a picture in the discussion shows serial numbers and the 5A one does not match the serial on the replacement page? Sorry to ramble, my question is, is there anyway for me to tell if my lead is the 5A version of not? Thanks
+Christopher May​​ There are three types. Bad 3a, post-recall 3a, and new 5a. I've NEVER heard of Apple cables being bulk packed. Those is why you should always buy straight from the Apple Store to prevent counterfeits. To tell if your cable is 5A or not you need to look at the model number, the box, or the letters used in the serial number. If the serial number has the same starting letters as the picture I posted it is likely 5a.
+Nathan K. Thanks that makes it clear, think I will just send it back and buy from Apple directly to be sure.
Hi +Nathan K. Very interesting analysis, thanks a lot ! I'm writing an article for the french website MacGeneration. What is the performance difference between the 2d gen and the 3d gen ? The new cable is charging faster ? Is it worth it to buy the new cable to replace the 2d gen ?
+Stéphane Moussie I have only tested the "old" one on floor models in stores, and based off data other experts I trust have shared.  However, I can speak to the clear differences between them with some certainty.

The "2nd gen" cord as you call it [MJWHT2AM/A] is a non-eMarked, passive, C-C, USB2.0 cord. It is rated for 20v/3a maximum. This rating is directly related to the lack of an eMarker. (It also had extremely poor reviews for durability!)

USB3.1(Gen1/Gen2) cords, or cords capable of more than 3a current, MUST have one (or two) IC chips located in the ends of the cable called eMarkers. The cable is called an eMarked Cable Assembly (EMCA).

[Active cords have "repeater electronics" in them. The Belkin 2m Thunderbolt 3 40gbps cord is an example of one. However, Belkin botched the implementation.]

This chip electronically describes characteristics of the cord to "smart" (USB-PD) devices it is plugged into such as cord length, what company made it (VID), part numbers (PID), firmware version, what connectors are on it, maximum current, maximum USB speed, and USB-IF Certification test number, among other things. This chip bridges the electronic<->physical divide so devices know exactly what the interconnect is capable of.

The "3rd gen" [MLL82AM/A] is passive, USB2.0, C-C, and *eMarked* (!!). More tellingly, it is rated and tagged in the eMarker for 5A of current. This means the wires in the cord are thick enough to safety carry high currents without "losing" voltage to resistance losses. (IR Drop.)

The maximum tolerances are specified in the USB-C Specification, if you are interested. The closer the IR losses are to zero, the better the cord. [This "3rd gen" cord has amazing performance. It rivals Google cords half its length! And those Google cords are NOT  eMarked, nor 5a! (non-eMarked are 3a max, remember?)]

I think this is noteworthy because of the Macbook Pro 2016 15" with Touchbar's 87W charger. 100W (>60W) charging is only possible with an eMarked 5a cord. Chargers that output >60W are supposed look for an eMarker before telling devices how much power they can output. If there is no eMarker response, or the eMarker states 3a, the charger restricts itself to only provide 60W max.

Before this cable was released, I (and many others) were distraught that Apple might use *PROPRIETARY* voltages to use currents under 3a on the Macbook Pro 15" so their existing "old", non eMarked cords worked. (They did this once before with their 14.5V iPad Pro and Macbook.)

Instead, Apple pulled all the old cords off the shelves and silently upgraded to this 5a version. Now their course of action is perfectly clear! The only thing I find extremely regrettable is despite going through all this effort to follow the USB-C rules, Apple still decided to break a few.

The 61W and 87W Macbook Pro still break the Power Rules. (Please see Benson's post.) The 61W should offer (5v/3a 9v/3a 15v/3a 20v/3a) and the 87W should offer (5v/3a 9v/3a 15v/3a 20v/4.35a [20v/3a if 3a cord]). However, Apple only put 5v/2.4a [5v/1.5a for non-Apple devices], and skipped 15v entirely. This will cause big problems with other devices like the Nexus 6P or certain laptops that need these levels.

Still, it is a major improvement. I can describe this more, but it is already quite lengthy. Please contact me via a private post if you would like more thorough explanations.
+Nathan K. just picked up for my Nexus 5X. Not showing as "Charging Rapidly" with the OEM charger. Is this normal?
+Robert Nye​​​​​​​​​​​ I am 99.5% certain you have a defective Google Nexus 5X OEM charger, as I warned about a few months ago. Link below. Please contact your place of purchase and get it exchanged under warranty. This is a manufacturing defect AND safety issue. Cease using it immediately. - Please check your chargers! Some Nexus 5X/6P chargers are defective and potentially unsafe. (Video) • /r/Android/

Please see the "bridged CC" slide from my recent presentation. I've been fighting with Google internally for MONTHS to get them to acknowledge responsibility for this known-defective equipment sold to customers. (As an external volunteer, so only at arms length.)

This occurs because some N5X chargers have defective engineering. (Amongst other safety failures.) It uses a single signaling Rp resistor across both CC lines shorted together, instead of two independent ones. This causes big problems electrically.

USB3.1 or eMarked cables (like this Apple one) use an Ra on the second line. Bridging them together causes the CC signal on the first line to be corrupted. As a result, the "charge at 3A" message gets corrupted into a "charge at 1.5A" message. Translation: no "charging rapidly" -- as the phone limits itself to half speed.

Additionally this indicates there are greater, more fundamental safety issues with the charger (depending on variant). Can you take a picture of the back of your charger? What is the model number? Who was the subcontractor?
Hi +Nathan K.​ I just got the new USB C cable for my Pixel XL.
Other than length, May I know how is it better to use for Pixel comparing to the OEM one's which comes with the phone?

Other than that, I found that there's actually 3 pins in the Google's USB C cable, whereas the Apple one's only have two. Does it affect anything?
+Darren Soh Colz​ This cable will show no appreciable benefit FOR THE PIXEL beyond length. However for other high-power devices going forward, this one is much better. Pixel cord = 3a/60w max. This cord = 5a/100w max.

If I got the Pixel one for free, I'd use it. But if I had to buy one, I'd buy the Apple one since it is better. (And cheaper.)
I’ve just got one, and I wanted to point out that the European version is called “MLL82ZM/A” (that is, it ends with ZM/A instead of AM/A; this is the case with all the Apple products, as far as I can tell).
I noticed that the cable has two pairs for data and checked the discussion here. Here are my two cents:

+Nathan K. cited 3.2.3. I’d say that Note 2 below Table 3-11 would be a better reference as it specifically addresses USB 2.0 cables. It still says “should not,” though.
And regarding “However the wording is "should" not "shall" so I think it's just a suggestion”—it’s a suggestion indeed. “Should” is defined in as “a keyword indicating flexibility of choice with a preferred alternative.” So, yeah, the cable definitely complies (in this part, at least), although I would really like to know why they decided to leave the pins in place.
+Kirill Elagin Apple uses the USB pins on the opposite side of CC for something proprietary. I am unable to discuss it however.
So should the USB-C cables spreadsheet mention if a cable is eMarked or not? Presumably Power Delivery won't work if it is not? Is this implied if a cable is rated at 5Amps? Will non eMarked cables still charge a Pixel XL at 18W with a PD charger or do you need eMarked cables?
+Christopher May No need, since it's a requirement if a cable is USB3.1 or 100w. If there is a problem with the eMarker it would affect the cable's score.

PD works on any C-C cable. Doesn't need to be eMarked.

Yes it is implied of 5A.

Any C-C cable can fast charge the Pixel since it's only 3a max. (At 5v. At 9v it uses 2a max.)
+Nathan K. Just in case you weren't aware, Apple has updated a support article on its site for how consumers can check which cable they have (e.g. if they no longer have the box). Serials starting C4M or FL4 are the old 3A type; serials starting DLC or CTC are the new type. 
+Nathan K. When you depopulate pins, doesn't that make the physical connection worse? Wouldn't the connector fall out easier?
+paul poco no, there are separate lugs on the side for "snapping" the connector in place. The central pins are for communication/data/voltage only.
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