The Important Differences Between Real and Counterfeit iPad Chargers

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 13, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    One of the side effects of the tremendous popularity of iPhones and iPads has been the counterfeit Apple product market, which looks to lure in consumers who want to purchase items like chargers for less money than Apple's official offerings.

    However, those counterfeit chargers can be fairly dangerous, as highlighted by the tragic story of a Chinese woman who was electrocuted by a counterfeit charger while charging her iPhone last year. Following up his look at the difference between real and counterfeit iPhone chargers, Ken Shirriff has taken to his blog (via Daring Fireball) to explore the differences between the real and fake iPad chargers.

    Apple's official iPad charger (left) vs counterfeit (right).
    He compared the differences between Apple's real $19 iPad charger and a $3 he found on eBay. While they look exactly the same on the outside, he found major differences on the inside. Apple's charger is crammed full of bigger, higher quality components while the counterfeit has low-quality components and more space. Another difference was a safety measure:
    Flipping the boards over reveals another obvious safety difference: Apple's charger includes red insulating tape while the counterfeit does not. One not-so-obvious difference is the space between high and low voltage currents running through the boards. While Apple's charger includes a safe 4mm separation between the two, the counterfeit only features a 0.6mm separation. Shirriff notes this means a simple drop of condensation could cause the charger to zap the user.

    Another key difference is the power output. Apple's charger outputs 10W at a steady rate while the counterfeit outputs 5.9W with frequent spikes, which means that Apple's charger charges the iPad quicker with a higher quality of energy.

    Shirriff goes into far greater detail with extensive images and graphs detailing the specific differences between Apple's real iPad charger and the counterfeit. The full comparison is available on his blog. Users who believe they have a counterfeit charger may take part in Apple's third-party charger takeback program.

    Article Link: The Important Differences Between Real and Counterfeit iPad Chargers
  2. macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2011
    Vilano Beach, FL
    Dinky little caps in the bogus charger. I’m always surprised the poor component quality in “expensive” gear too.
  3. macrumors 603

    Jan 20, 2010
    This video is a great overview/teardown of the differences of iPhone chargers (I know this article is about iPads). Great YouTuber as well (fellow nerds will know what I'm talking about) :D
  4. macrumors 6502


    Mar 25, 2009
    I'm pretty sure Apple's isn't brown…
  5. macrumors newbie

    Jul 7, 2011
    Apple Chargers

    Having gone through 2 ipad chargers and 3 Macbook chargers in the last couple of years (all failing at the device connector end) I'm sure Apple could kill the counterfeit market simply by stopping theirs from breaking on a regular basis. The guy in our local apple shop even recommends to people that they wrap a spring out of a pen around the end to give it more support!
  6. macrumors 6502


    May 10, 2005
    Apple's take back program ended months ago it ended October 18 2013
  7. macrumors 68040


    Sep 29, 2009
    I never bought any counterfeit power supply since it is THE most vital component of all electronic devices - the energy source! Poor power supplies can kill your devices or even yourself.
  8. macrumors regular


    Apr 24, 2014
  9. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I've actually done design work on power supplies. The hard part is not simply designing something that works but one that remains safe AFTER a major component failure. You you ask "does the unit remain safe AFTER a short inside the transformers. If a capacitor blows and bits of metal are scattered around does the unit remain safe. The trouble is that there are about a b-zillion ways things can break and you can't think of them all so you use general purpose "backups" like wrapping the higher voltage part in tape. This is a "backup" and costs money but contributes ZERO visible features. It's the same with the gap on the circuit board. board manufactures charge by the square inch, so gaps cost money can add no visible features. The better design will have two or three backups and will remain safe even after a major component failure but people don't like paying for this

    My bet is that if air bags and seat belts were an optional higher priced option on cars, many people would not spend the money. Same with power supplies consumers mostly buy based on price.
  10. macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2014
    If you go to his blog, you'll see both of the chargers in their cases side by side. They do look exactly the same.
    I think the brown stuff is merely the innercase.
  11. macrumors regular


    Jul 18, 2004
    Leesburg, VA
    Now we know why the counterfeit version masquerading on eBay as apple OEM is $3. Now apple just to need to make it as similar and we won't need knock off versions

  12. macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2003
    Who cares if it might kill me! I saved $4! Woo!
  13. macrumors 6502

    Mar 7, 2006
    Knutters Knoll, Melbourne
    I only buy genuine Apple chargers but I do buy knockoff USB to Lightening cords. Is that a safety concern?
  14. macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2009
    By far, the worst I have at my home, is a genuine Samsung charger form a Galaxy Nexus.

    IDK if it's safe or not, but it makes a very-high pitch noise when charging.

    I couldn't sleep, I couldn't find the noise in my bedroom, until I found it was the charger that started whining when I charged my phone.

  15. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 13, 2013
    Perhaps you're addicted to risk taking. If / when it catches fire you may wish you would have taken advantage of the replacement warranty it came with.
  16. macrumors 65816


    Apr 4, 2003
    No, because the usb cable is low voltage and not an electrocution hazard. The bits inside the charger are what matter.

    That being said, I never had a knockoff lightning cable last more than a few weeks, so I now only buy MFi certified cables. Haven't had a problem since.
  17. Editor emeritus


    Jul 10, 2003
    Falls Church, VA
    As others have said, no because it's all low power. However, the question "is this a safety concern" made me think of this:

  18. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 18, 2012
    As others have said it isn't, but the fact that you would buy one without knowing that answer in advance is.
  19. Guest

    Nov 18, 2012
    What did the chargers ever do to you? Why do you need to abuse them? From my experience, Apple chargers take a lot to break.
  20. APlotdevice, May 13, 2014
    Last edited: May 13, 2014

    macrumors 68030


    Sep 3, 2011
    Also the power socket on the official adapter is polarized, whereas the counterfeit one isn't.
  21. macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2013
    $15 actually, and with the extra cash I can pick up some burn cream and a spare charger.

    Everybody wins!
  22. macrumors 6502


    Feb 23, 2004
    San Diego, CA, USA
    Well, if you'd click through to the blog post, you'd find that in the first side-by-side picture, the counterfeit charger is more of an off-white, not brown (it's the picture that shows the counterfeit charger listing/lying-about all the standards that it doesn't actually meet, e.g. the UL certification symbol - they just took Apple's text/graphics and dropped a few words). You'd also find that the author of the blog post doesn't say that they look "exactly the same", he says they appear "almost identical" from the outside (credit for the word "exactly" goes to the MacRumors editors). And given that they have the same shape, the same dimensions, the same configuration of connectors in the same places, and roughly the same coloring, and almost the same labeling, they do, indeed, appear almost identical.
  23. CarlJ, May 13, 2014
    Last edited: May 13, 2014

    macrumors 6502


    Feb 23, 2004
    San Diego, CA, USA
    That's weird - I'm still on the original charger for my late 2008 MacBook Pro (the first unibody one, with the first MagSafe connector, IIRC), and I only have the one charger, and I carry the machine (and charger) around a lot. The cord isn't as white any more, sure, but it works fine. Also I've never had an iPad or iPhone charger die on me, either. Had a couple knockoff 30-pin cables die on me, back in the iPhone 4 days, but never had any of the Apple cables (or 3rd party MFI cables) go bad.

    I did kill an Apple charger for my old PowerBook once, years ago - it got cord-dragged off a coffee table (BTW, I love MagSafe now), and landed on the power connector - PowerBook's case was wrinkled around the power socket a bit, and the pin on the charger's connector stuck out at a 45 degree angle and was hopeless. PowerBook worked fine with a new/replacement charger, though.

    You haven't perchance hired a gorilla to plug and unplug the cables and chargers for you, have you? :rolleyes:
  24. macrumors newbie

    May 13, 2014
    Apple MacBook Pro ac power adapter wall plug duckhead EU European Union Standard

    Hi guys,
    Reading this I grow concerned that the US -> EU adapter I just bought for my brand new MacBook Pro could cause me problems. It is only the plug, which I have bought counterfeit as I live in Denmark and the computer comes with a US plug. So I will be using an official Apple charger with this Chinese-made European wall plug.
    Should I be concerned?
  25. macrumors 65816

    Aug 13, 2011
    Apple's charges with higher quality energy? Maybe Apple should produce cars, exhaust probably smells of strawberry.

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