There have been MANY incidences where people had equipment damaged, fires, and even been electrocuted because the charger they were using was counterfeit.
DO NOT buy those cheap chargers you see online – I know, that price is VERY tempting – but there significant reasons why the Apple chargers are recommended. There is significant protection circuitry in the Apple chargers that the el cheapo knockoffs leave out [because it’s expensive].
Cables are a bit less of an issue, although the REAL cheap ones WILL cause problems. For best results, choose cables that are MiFi certified.
As we head into the Great 2017 iPad Turnin this Spring, be aware that we WILL be looking at the chargers turned in – and if they are not genuine, you will be charged for a replacement!
A suggestion: do not go out and buy a replacement yourself – we can get them cheaper because we buy in bulk.
Want more info? Keep reading!
Safety probably isn’t something you think about when you plug in your charger, but it’s important. Inside the charger is 170 volts or more with very little separating it from your iPad and you. If something goes wrong, the charger can burn up (below), injure you, or even killyou. Devices such as chargers have strict safety standards – if you get a charger from a reputable manufacturer. If you buy a cheap counterfeit charger, these safety standards are ignored. You can’t see the safety risks from the outside, but by taking the chargers apart, I can show you the dangers of the counterfeit.
These chargers cram a lot of complex circuitry into a small package, as you can see from the iPhone charger below. (See my iPhone charger teardown for more details.) The small size makes it challenging to make an efficient, high-quality charger, while the commoditization of chargers and the demand for low prices pressure manufacturers to make the circuit as simple as possible and exclude expensive components, even if the power quality is worse. The result is a wide variation in the quality of the chargers, most of which is invisible to the user, who may believe “a charger is a charger”.
A poor design can suffer several problems. If the output voltage is not filtered well, there will be noise and spikes due to the high-frequency switching. At extreme levels this could damage your phone, but the most common symptom is the touchscreen doesn’t work while the charger is plugged in. A second problem is the output voltage can be affected by the AC input, causing 120 Hz “ripple”. Third, the charger is supposed to provide a constant voltage. A poor design can cause the voltage to sag as the load increases. Your phone will take longer to charge if the charger doesn’t provide enough power.
Counterfeit chargers pose a safety hazard as well as a hazard to your phone. You can buy a charger that looks just like an Apple charger for about $2, but the charger is nothing like an Apple charger internally. The power is extremely bad quality (as I will show below). But more importantly, these chargers ignore safety standards. Since chargers have hundreds of volts internally, there’s a big risk if a charger doesn’t have proper insulation. You’re putting your phone, and more importantly yourself, at risk if you use one of these chargers. I did a teardown of a counterfeit charger, which shows the differences in detail.
What makes Apple’s iPhone charger special
Apple’s power adapter is clearly a high-quality power supply designed to produce carefully filtered power. Apple has obviously gone to extra effort to reduce EMI interference, probably to keep the charger from interfering with the touchscreen. When I opened the charger up, I expected to find a standard design, but I’ve compared the charger to the Samsung charger and several other high-quality industry designs, and Apple goes beyond these designs in several ways.
The input AC is filtered thorugh a tiny ferrite ring on the plastic case (see photo below). The diode bridge output is filtered by two large capacitors and an inductor. Two other R-C snubbers filter the diode bridge, which I’ve only seen elsewhere in audio power supplies to prevent 60Hz hum; perhaps this enhances the iTunes listening experience. Other chargers I disassembled don’t use a ferrite ring and usually only a single filter capacitor. The primary circuit board has a grounded metal shield over the high-frequency components (see photo), which I haven’t seen elsewhere. The transformer includes a shield winding to absorb EMI. The output circuit uses three capacitors including two relatively expensive tantalum ones and an inductor for filtering, when many supplies just use one capacitor. The Y capacitor is usually omitted from other designs. The resonant clamp circuit is highly innovative.
Apple’s design provides extra safety in a few ways that were discussed earlier: the super-strong AC prongs, and the complex over-temperature / over-voltage shutdown circuit. Apple’s isolation distance between primary and secondary appears to go beyond the regulations.
How to spot a counterfeit charger [from Lifehacker]
See if your iPad charger is a fake before you burn down your house [from cultofmac.com]
iPad charger teardown: inside Apple’s charger and a risky phony [from Ken Shirriff’s blog]
The important differences between Real and Counterfeit iPad Chargers [from macrumors.com]