back to article Apple's shock treatment: An authentic charger-spotting guide

Apple has responded to a recent spate of incidents in which iPhone users were electrocuted whilst apparently charging their handsets with a new guide on its Chinese site detailing how to identify an official power adapter. Clicking on a prominent link on the homepage will take visitors to a dedicated web page explaining how all …

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So now they have explained how to identify a genuine Apple Charger, the fake producers can finally get it right.

Still metal is a great conductor of electricity, stick to a polycarbonate shell and you will be fine.

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Spotting a clone

Well, what's funny is that they seem to deliberately try to avoid getting it right. While there probably are some that are true clones, most are easy to spot given even a cursory glance. My fake says "Abble" instead of "Apple". There are other fakes that says "Designed by California" instead of "Designed by Apple in California" and leave out the little "Apple Japan" mention.

I assume they're doing this because they're afraid of getting sued so they carefully avoid using the Apple name. Why, I'm not really sure, since Apple trying to sue some fly-by-night company in China that could shut down and spring up the following Monday under a new name seems like a waste of their time.

I probably should worry about using the fake given recent events. I bought it (them, I bought two) because I wanted to have one spare I keep in my suitcase and one I keep in my laptop case so I wouldn't have to remember to take the real one I use at home for nightly charging whenever I'm on the road. When I last used the suitcase one a few weeks ago I had to plug the lightning connector in about 4 or 5 times until the phone gave an indication it was charging, I guess that's the tradeoff. The real one connects perfectly every time.

Whatever money Apple makes from selling chargers is probably about .00001% of their total profit, it probably would give them some good publicity if they said "from now we're going to sell our chargers at cost" (which I've heard is $5 - $7, presumably because they use better components than the cheaper clones) and gave as the reason the desire to avoid any more unfortunate deaths. If Apple's were $5 or $10 I'd have bought two more of theirs, but at $29/ea I didn't really want to pay that for spares I only use occasionally...

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Re: Spotting a clone

Why by a fake Apple charger? Why not just buy some other USB charger that was neither fake nor expensive?

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Alert

Re: Spotting a clone

If your fake is the tiny form-factor, DESTROY AND THROW IT AWAY IMMEDIATELY.

Or better, carefully pull it apart and post photos, then throw it.

I'm serious, those really are incredibly dangerous!

Every single one of the UK smaller-than-a-normal plug fakes I've seen have such tiny clearances that they will connect the USB shell (and thus phone chassis) to the mains merely by slightly wiggling the cable in the wrong direction.

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Re: Spotting a clone

My experiences with spare chargers for kit boils down to there being roughly 4 grades of kit. I'll go for PC laptop chargers, since that's what I see more off.

Grade 1: Official replacement branded new charger might set you back $65, and will work perfectly.

Grade 2: Second hand official chargers are usually pretty good and you can get them for about $30ish but no security of supply. Retired corporate is often the best, you can pick up unused ones that have been sitting in a drawer for years.

Grade 3a: Now we get onto the generics and knock offs. These are the good quality ones, often from the same runs as the official one, but not branded. These run to about $25-30, and appear to have gone through at least basic QA, and work consistently with stable outputs, and don't go crazy hot when left on for more than 6 hours. But you should still check them :)

Grade 3b: A few companies sell chargers with a variety of output settings and different adapters. Usually these are very good (or a complete dog), since they've also been tested, and would seem to be made of fairly decent grade components. However, they do run to $50+

After that anything else starts to have corners being cut which will end up damaging the device or generating excess heat (ie catch fire). My advice to people who have a dead charger on a 200 buck laptop is to either plan on a new machine, or a halfway decent charger, as a $10 charger from eBay is probably going to be a health hazard.

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Re: Spotting a clone

Or buy a *decent* smaller USB charger, like this - https://www.themu.co.uk/

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Re: Spotting a clone

I automatically toss anything that wouldn't be bs1363 compliant. 10mm distance from pins to the edge.

If they didn't even bother to read our standards, they definitely didn't care about the quality inside.

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Coat

Yup.

Selling millions of hunks of electrified metal for people to stick to the sides of their faces is never a great idea.

My coat - the one with the non-electrocuting plastic Sammy Android in the pocket.

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Re: Spotting a clone

First, because Apple. It's a status symbol, to a large extent. If you've gotten yourself one of the most expensive phones on the market, you want to flaunt it - not buy a cheap-looking charger.

Secondly, USB charging isn't quite that simple. It is on the iPhone - that's a basic USB power thing. Give it five volts and it'll be happy to draw the 500ma USB permits. The iPad, however, demands a bit more power than that - which means it can't just run off of any charger or USB port, it has to be a device that supports both the high-current mode and the negotiation to tell the iPad it is safe to draw that much. This is why the iPad won't charge normally from the USB ports of most non-Apple devices* or USB power adapters not specifically designed for such devices.

The situation isn't any different on Android tablets. It's a basic law of USB: If you draw more than 500mA without checking the device is ready, you'll either crash the USB controller or trip the polyfuse.

*I understand it will charge but only when in sleep state - there isn't enough power available to run the pad and charge the batteries at once.

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Re: Spotting a clone

Why by a fake Apple charger? Why not just buy some other USB charger that was neither fake nor expensive?

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I actually only needed the extra lightning cables, the charger came with it for "free". I only ever use the fake charger that I keep in my suitcase for travel (the laptop bag just needs a cable since I use the USB port on it for charging/syncing)

I should dig up another USB power adapter to use for it because the other posters are right that it may be dangerous to use. I don't much care if it is the same size or looks like the Apple one, a charger is a charger.

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Random standard??

Anyone explain this to me please?

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Re: Random standard??

Maybe someone dictated it over a bad phone line and they actually said 'branded'? (I'm munching on straws here.)

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Re: Random standard??

I assumed that was Goggle Transtate.

It's better than most of the Chinglish manuals I run into.

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Re: Random standard??

I suspect that the PR was chucked together with some boiler bits to be clarified by the techies later.

i.e. Think of it as saying ${random_standard}, or "chuck in some standard or other that ours comply with here, as appropriate to each market this is released in".

In other words: "oops".

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Re: Random standard??

@dank

Indeed, but proper translation costs time and money. Far more efficient to chuck the sentence in Google Translate, and have a commentard rectify the nuances later.

The articles usually tell us when they've done that, though.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: Random standard??

"Far more efficient to chuck the sentence in Google Translate, and have a commentard rectify the nuances later."

Far more efficient to email corrections@thereg :-(

C.

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Anonymous Coward

Intentionally or unintentionally buying fakes?

What we don't know if these unfortunate souls bought an adapter in good faith thinking it was genuine or they deliberately sought out a cheaper fake charger.

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Re: Intentionally or unintentionally buying fakes?

Oh, they've always been duped into buying a fake when they thought they were buying the real thing in good faith - according to their interviews in the rags... Oh, and they paid full whack for it as well...

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A self proclaiming prophesy

Im always amazed by people purchasing a relatively expensive phone then baulking at the price of the official adapters and attachments.

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Re: A self proclaiming prophesy

The same can be said of phone and laptop batteries. Given some of the horror stories (icon) in the media, and my own bad experiences with the lifespan of "compatible" batteries, I'm sticking with branded from now on.

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How to identify a fake charger

1) Plug charger into phone;

2) Check if you've been electrocuted.

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You can't electrocute somebody into a coma, you can only electrocute them into a coffin.

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Trollface

Obvious...

I always thought you could spot the official accessories simply by the fact they cost 300% more than unbranded ones?

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Anonymous Coward

The Register ...

An Apple story with only one Fanboi and no RANDOM caps?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Register ...

I can only assume the rest are lying on the floor near their phones dribbling and frothing at the mouth with frazzled hair stuck up on end?

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Trollface

How to tell a fake one from a real one

There is a fool proof way of telling a fake apple product from a genuine one.

Fake - you get a shock after you have purchased it

Genuine - you get the shock before you purchase it - you want WHAT for a simple charger!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How to tell a fake one from a real one

I think it'd surprise you the amount of innovation that goes into your average iphone charger. To meet the low standby power requirements, etc., the low heat dissipation, the high reliability, etc. yadayadayada. The things are actually pretty complex and to make them as small as they are is actually a pretty sweet feat of engineering. I'm not saying they don't make a tidy profit, but it's also FAR from simple...

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Coat

Re: How to tell a fake one from a real one

Maybe they just need stop wasting money then and just go for a standard USB Micro B connector then!!

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Right brand

Buying cheap chargers from eBay is stupid — as is buying official istuff.

Best to stick to known brands. I got a Belkin charger from ebuyer which cost three times as much as an eBay cheapie but still much less than igear. It is beautifully constructed.

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Re: Right brand

Ahhh... belkin- one of the few firms to offer lifetime warranties.

Apple- one of the few firms that try to charge you extra for your statutory rights.

Just out of interest, does anyone know why so many double insulated products have no earth lead. I appreciate that the item doesn't need earthing but what about the lead itself? Is it a cost thing?

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Electrocution = DEATH

Seriously, how many seemingly intelligent people don't know that the word 'electrocution' means an electric shock that ENDS YOUR LIFE. That's like saying he had a nasty case of execution, but got better.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Pedant.

PS. On a similar vein, a person killing themselves with a noose is HANGED, not HUNG. ;)

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Re: Electrocution = DEATH

cue obligatory pTerry reference to dead meat being hung...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Electrocution = DEATH

Since you began the pedantry, I'd like to point out that being "HANGED" and being "HUNG" are not mutually exclusive.

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Re: Electrocution = DEATH

I beg to differ, sir. A picture can be HUNG but not HANGED. A person can be HANGED (to death) but they can also be HUNG (from a harness - presumably alive.) Strictly speaking, I suppose it's possible to use HUNG if you managed to die whilst being held up on a rope by something other than your neck. Possibly it's more about intent than it is about which bodily appendage is inserted into the rope. I'll let the linguists argue about that one. ;)

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/hang?q=hanged#hang__15

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A shock in either case

iGenuine_Charger: cost

iFake_Charger: electric current

I still think there's more to this story than meets the eye. It'll come out eventually.

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Test your RCD monthly!

That is all.

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Re: Test your RCD monthly!

This is China. The RCD is probably fake too.

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.......BA DA BOOM

Of course if the battery's actually lasted longer it would greatly reduce the risk of electrocution.

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