MacBook Charger Teardown Highlights Dangers of Counterfeit Adapters

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 21, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Manufacturers of counterfeit Apple products often go to great lengths to make their knock-offs look genuine, which brings the added risk of concealing potentially dangerous flaws in substituted electrical components.

    In the past we've covered the efforts manufacturers go to when counterfeiting iPhone and iPad chargers, courtesy of product teardowns on Ken Shirrif's technology blog. Now, a new post on Shirrif's site offers a detailed teardown and analysis of the differences between a counterfeit MacBook charger and a genuine unit, providing a great example of how cosmetic similarities can hide major safety defects.

    A counterfeit MagSafe 45W charger (left) and a genuine 60W charger (right).

    Shirrif notes that counterfeit chargers he's examined in the past have usually had external flaws that give them away, but that this latest MacBook charger knock-off almost had him fooled, too.
    Only when Shirrif cracks open the charger are the differences laid bare. A real Apple charger is packed full of complex circuitry, but the counterfeit contains a fairly low density board that uses a simpler power supply with a dangerously small isolation gap between the AC input and the low-voltage output.

    Shirrif also identifies a distinct lack of insulation tape between the two voltages on the circuit board, a metal grounding pin not connected to anything, and a fluctuating power output. See his post for the full comparison.

    Three years ago, a Chinese woman was electrocuted by a counterfeit charger while charging her iPhone, highlighting the significant dangers these products pose to consumers. Users who suspect they have a counterfeit charger can take part in Apple's third-party charger takeback program to safely dispose of the adapters.

    Article Link: MacBook Charger Teardown Highlights Dangers of Counterfeit Adapters
  2. PFKMan23 macrumors regular

    Jan 12, 2012
    And here's me hoping they don't dump magsafe.
  3. jayhawk11 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 19, 2007
    Using a fake charger is certainly a terrible idea, but so is charging $80 for a replacement MagSafe charger.
  4. Zen5656 macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2010
    I use the charger on a daily basis at university. Already my third now in 2 years as the cable breaks all the time. I bought the best fake charger I could find on amazon for a third of the price. 89€ are just too much Apple. I even went to Apple Store in person to complain but they did not give a ****. They said you could do Apple Care and then it is maybe replaced in case... ratings of the original MagSafe 1 and 2 in the online apple store are also very very bad (1 star):

    Attached Files:

  5. randyroverly macrumors newbie


    Feb 5, 2010
    Danville PA
    Apple's version looks vastly superior compared to the knockoff but the problem is, they are just as faulty. I've personally replaced 4 power adapters in the last 3 years. Consider me unlucky, but I never had to replace any power cords on any other laptops I've owned. I didn't mind it so much until the Applecare ran out, then you have to pay retail for replacements. I love the design of the magsafe (having small children), but it definitely needs improvement on reliability.
  6. MasterMac macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2003
    The rest of the thread will be filled with one of the two types of replies:

    I have taken care of my cables and have never had to replace them ever.

    I have had to replace it 10 times in my 6 months of owning it.

    Take your pick on the more popular one this time!

    Edit: seems I was a little too slow to catch the first two :(
  7. OldSchoolMacGuy macrumors 68000


    Jul 10, 2008
    And yet people will still save the $15 and risk their lives.

    Friend's cousin ended up in the hospital from being shocked by a cheap knockoff.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 21, 2016 ---
    You can grab Apple original chargers for $40 from Groupon.
  8. Crzyrio macrumors 65816

    Jul 6, 2010
    i have a 2010 white MacBook, I used through university, and now with my parents. Only had to replace it once cause I yanked it when stuck under a chair.

    I have neither had any problems with my 2 year old MacBook Pro.

    My sister has had hers for 5 years and did not have to replace it until recently. Even then it still works but just a bit frayed so she keeps it plugged in table.

    So you see for every one bad story there are like 2 good ones. Their cables are actually good. Like any other cable, if you treat it badly it won't last.
  9. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    1, I don't understand people going cheap
    2, apple care covers replacements
    3, the new rMB charger with USB-c solves most the issues as you just replace the cable.
  10. Cwolk macrumors regular


    Jun 3, 2015
    NJ, USA
    This is titled kind of weird. It sounds like it's saying the dangers are counterfeit, which doesn't make sense.
  11. fixmymac macrumors regular

    Jun 8, 2009
    Tranent, East Lothian, Scotland
    If only the lead emanating from the charger body was also a MagSafe connector, with a bigger, stronger magnet.

    AT the very least, it should be the case that the lead is replaceable by the user. Charge for replacement leads, of course.
  12. JoelTheSuperior macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2014
    London, UK
    $80 is probably about right based on what a good quality ATX PSU will cost you for a PC.
  13. Zen5656 macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2010
    Yeah totally accaptable to have a 33% chance that a charger gets broken right? :)

    I don't understand people not being rich.
  14. timmyh Contributing Editor


    Mar 18, 2016
    Bath, UK
    Changed to clear that up for you.
  15. foobarbaz macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2007
    No no no!

    Such deals are a surefire way to get counterfeits. There are no great deals on originals. Retail margins are too low. If its even 20% off, be very suspicious.

    If it says "bulk packaging" (and it does!), stay the hell away. Apple doesn't sell them in bulk. But counterfeiters want to avoid the expensive trouble of faking the packaging. But some still do, so everything other than big retailers is kinda risky.

    I personally don't mind cheaper 3rd party alternatives. But if the manufacturer tries to deceive or is too ashamed to put their own name on the box, I don't trust them with my life.
  16. acedout macrumors 65816

    Jul 18, 2011
    Forget AppleCare. Consumer Law in the UK covers it for free.
  17. Derekuda macrumors regular

    Oct 2, 2004
    You can say what you will about knock off chargers being dangerous, but at the end of the day, people will still buy them 9 times out of 10 because of the price difference. If apple cared about peoples safety, they would lower the cost on replacement adapters, but the truth is, they only care about money.
  18. randyroverly macrumors newbie


    Feb 5, 2010
    Danville PA
    AppleCare is only good until it expires. I've had this happen on two different laptops, then it's completely out of pocket. Though I don't support knock off chargers, I understand why someone would want to try it.
  19. zorinlynx macrumors 68040


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    What do you people do to your chargers? Seriously?

    I've only had one magsafe charger go bad in the history of my using them, back in 2007. Even then it was a known defect at the time; the springs that push the pins out failed. The cable itself was fine.

    I've had my current chargers ever since then, and never has one broken since. I also see people who go through lightning cables like water; they break all the time for them, whereas I still have my original lightning cables going back to my iPhone 5 three years ago.

    I suspect most people are really rough with their chargers. I treat my stuff with care. Maybe ya'll should too?
  20. doubllane, Mar 21, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016

    doubllane macrumors newbie


    Mar 21, 2016
    It's just plain wrong to call every charger that isn't OEM "counterfeit". I mean, seriously, if you replace your car stereo with an aftermarket model, is that a "counterfeit" car stereo? If you upgrade your RAM with a brand that Apple doesn't use, is that "counterfeit" RAM? You are undermining the entire 3rd party market, and in fact the very concept of competition, by framing the conversation in this way, and that's not good for the industry. I realize that people have a degree of love for Apple that blinds them to common sense, but if you think about it for two seconds, it's dumb to hand over $80 to Apple out of fear and simply because that's what they want you to do.

    The only time a charger is actually counterfeit is if it claims to be an Apple-brand charger, which quality 3rd party chargers do not do. And most of the crappy ones don't either.

    There are LOTS of good 3rd party chargers out there. I buy hundreds a month for my business, and the defect rate is very close to Apple's. Sure, if you buy the cheapest one you can find on eBay, chances are it's going to have a high failure rate. But if you have relationships in China with quality manufacturers, or at the very least deal with suppliers who care enough to buy quality parts, then you'll be in good shape.
  21. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68000


    Sep 23, 2005
    The 6ix
    I have taken care of my cables and have never had to replace them ever.
  22. Zorn, Mar 21, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016

    Zorn macrumors 6502a


    Feb 14, 2006
    I wouldn't consider $80 to be in the realm of rich people, especially when the computer costs well over $1,000. If the thought of possibly needing to replace the charger for 80 bucks at some point is daunting, you probably shouldn't be spending the cash on a Mac.

    You can't say Apple doesn't care about safety because some people choose to buy a knockoff charger to save a few bucks. It's not their job to try and price their products below counterfeits just because someone might be stupid enough to buy them.

    It's a bit like someone buying a new Mercedes Benz, then getting angry about the $300 the dealer charges for your oil change. That's just the tip of the iceberg, and if you can't afford that, you buy a different car. It's incredibly stupid to buy something you can't afford, then go buying counterfeit parts/pieces for it if anything goes wrong.
  23. DogHouseDub macrumors regular


    Sep 19, 2007
    Not to mention another chunk of plastic going into a landfill.
  24. Mr. Buzzcut macrumors 65816

    Mr. Buzzcut

    Jul 25, 2011
    I don't know. I've never had a problem with the wire but the brick runs extremely hot and I've had two just stop working.

    This is mostly a replacement part and not an accessory. It's frustrating that Apple feels the need to profit so much from them.
  25. laszlo182 macrumors member

    Nov 17, 2013
    Bratislava, Slovakia
    If you have money for a ~ 1000+ $ Macbook then 80 bucks shouldn't be problem for you :D

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