back to article Thai man reportedly dies clutching his scorched iPhone 4S

A 28-year-old Thai man has become the latest to die after talking on his iPhone whilst it was charging, according to local media reports. The man from Chanthaburi province was discovered lying face down on the cement floor of his room clutching a black 4S device which was plugged into the wall through a charger. His 52-year- …

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  1. You have not yet created a handle
    FAIL

    It's all about the money

    Unfortunately this will keep happening whilst Apple are charging £15 for a cable when I can buy 2 off eBay for 99p. 30 cables for the price of one is a no brainer.

    The Apple ones do take longer to fall apart, and even when they have they do continue to work, but they don't last 30 times longer.

    1. Turtle

      Re: It's all about the money

      "Unfortunately this will keep happening whilst Apple are charging £15 for a cable when I can buy 2 off eBay for 99p. 30 cables for the price of one is a no brainer."

      Except maybe when the money-saving merchandise comes with the risk of death - unless one actually gets a thrill from living dangerously. Would you pay the extra money for the sake of, let's say, staying alive?

      Even when they are selling poorly manufactured adapters at the lowest imaginable prices, there is NO excuse for any company to peddle goods with potentially lethal defects.

      1. Cliff

        Re: It's all about the money

        Third party adaptors from reputable shops in Europe at least will all be CE tested and safe. Safe adaptors cost more, but as their less likely to kill you or melt or catch fire, it's worth the extra.

        There's still no way they need to cost what Apple charge, though, that's just an abusive relationship where they won't use industry harmonising micro USB/whatever specifically so they can charge more.

        1. zaax

          Re: It's all about the money

          Those ce marks are easily forged

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's all about the money

          £15 for a good quality, branded / original 2A charge is not that outrageous - sure you can buy cheaper but is it worth it? There is no way I would skimp on a few pounds when the thing is plugged in 24x7 and often unattended.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's all about the money

          Apple do a micro USB to dock or lightning adapter - I actually carry a micro USB cable and a lightning adapter so can use one cable for my iPhone and also for my bluetooth headset that uses micro USB. But saying that I've never damaged an Apple cable - guess it could get trapped / pulled but think they are about £15 for a new one and not seen 3rd party makers selling lightning cables for much less (that actually work).

          I have also seen more rugged 3rd party cables available from known manufacturers - so assume these may be a good option if you need something tougher.

        4. Wize

          Re: It's all about the money

          "Third party adaptors from reputable shops in Europe at least will all be CE tested and safe. Safe adaptors cost more, but as their less likely to kill you or melt or catch fire, it's worth the extra."

          A local shop (well, one of those mini shops in the middle of a shopping centre) was selling the fake chargers, along with its CE mark. So it isn't always easy to tell when an item is genuinely safe.

          The downside is Apple will probably change their phones to not charge when plugged in to a non-Apple charger. For safety of its users, not for the extra profit it will make from selling more chargers.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's all about the money

            "The downside is Apple will probably change their phones to not charge when plugged in to a non-Apple charger. For safety of its users, not for the extra profit it will make from selling more chargers."

            I find it strange that those who happily throw money at Apple (when equivalent quality WP or Android phones are hundreds of quid cheaper) should carp at paying a fairly small sum for a decent safe Apple branded charger. OK, Apple will charge a fat premium, but the cheap and dangerous charger is like buying a Porsche and fitting some completely unheard of make of tyres bought from a bloke on the street corner, rather than premium branded tyres.

            If there's an issue with paying Apple's accessory prices, why not invest in a Sammy, Moto,or a Nokia phone where the savings on the phone will free up the money for a drawer full of chargers, and those chargers are cheaper and the OEM premium is less than for Apple kit?

        5. Volker Hett

          Re: It's all about the money

          At least they'll have a more durable CE sticker :)

      2. Longrod_von_Hugendong
        FAIL

        Re: It's all about the money

        Turns out my life is worth than 99p - so i buy the Apple one and i keep living, pretty good value for money if you ask me.

    2. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: It's all about the money

      Don't Apple don't supply a charging cable when you buy an Iphone ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's all about the money

        Apple DO supply a cable with the iPhone and a charger - but this was not caused by either a fault with the Apple charger or cable but a 3rd party one.

        The Apple USB charger is about £15 - yes it's more than a cheap clone but perhaps they are cheap for a reason. In this case cheap and dangerous.

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: It's all about the money

      This will keep happening while people buy crappy black-market chargers rather than just cheaper alternates (i.e. properly CE-marked unofficial chargers), and have houses without RCD's or decent fuses, and don't check their cable before they plug it into the wall.

      Fair enough, you could get a zap off a dodgy charger, but electrocution? That shouldn't happen unless you are somehow part of a circuit to ground and there's no RCD / ELCB at all. It's possible that with a fuse you might get a nasty shock but it should only be very temporary with a proper, compliant, modern fusebox.

      This is little to do with crappy chargers, and much more to do with crappy house electrics AND crappy chargers combined.

      And he was on a cement floor - so what the hell was forming the circuiting? The DC cable into the phone shouldn't even be able to carry that sort of power enough to actually electrocute you before melting / blowing an internal fuse and how the hell did it manage to arc from the AC to the DC side of the transformer?

      Fact is, if he'd had anywhere near decent electrics, he could have stuck his fingers into light sockets and still not died (Fact: Have seen this done any number of times, including once in a lecture hall - maths lecture, so completely unrelated - where people were told they wouldn't do X so would they just stick their finger in a light-socket? Some idiot volunteered and did it in front of us all while the lecturer ummed and arred about whether to actually let him try it. And I know electricians who work with live sockets as a matter of course).

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: It's all about the money

        properly CE-marked unofficial chargers

        A CE marking means nothing. There is no formal 3rd-party test bureau, manufacturers self-certify and put the CE mark on by themselves. Any maker of dangerous, counterfeit, rubbish can do the same. Some even claim that on their products "CE" means something like "Compatible Europe" or some such nonsense.

        The only protection for those who don't want to pay the inflated prices charged for official spares is to use some common sense,. and pay a reasonable price from a known high-street name. A 99p bargain from eBay will give you exactly what you pay for

        1. JohnG Silver badge

          Re: It's all about the money

          "A CE marking means nothing"

          Whilst it is true that manufacturers apply the CE and RoHS marking themselves and some cheat, it is illegal throughout the EU to sell products which are falsely labelled or which do not comply with CE and RoHS rules. Those that sell this crap on ebay risk prosecution for manslaughter if their defective product kills someone.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's all about the money

            No this may come a HUGE surprise to many out there banging on about CE marks, but wait for it........

            China is not in the EEC (not EU, different things)! I know craaaazzeeeeee. So local products, even decent ones, may not actually carry it.

            Still at least they can rely on a the Kite mark eh?

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              CE Mark

              China is not in the EEC (not EU, different things)! I know craaaazzeeeeee. So local products, even decent ones, may not actually carry it.

              Whether China is in the EEA (not EEC) or not is irrelevant. CE marking is not an indication that a product is made in the EEA, but that it can be legally sold in the EEA. It is not mandatory for all products, but is mandatory for many categories, and "low voltage" is one of them. All such chargers must carry a CE mark if they are sold in the EEA, and importers/distributors must verify the presence of both the CE marking and the necessary supporting documentation.

              1. I like noodles

                Re: CE Mark

                Yes, but you misunderstand the op - the op isn't talking about them being on sale here, they're talking about them being on sale in China.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It's all about the money

              But the point is that Apple make one charger to cover various markets and test this to comply with US, Asia and EU rules.

              So while they could produce a cheap device with no testing for non EU markets they won't.

              1. Ted Treen
                Alert

                Re: Is it only iPhones..?

                Have only iPhone users using cheap third-party chargers shuffled off this mortal coil?

                Or is it not deemed worthy of reporting Sony/Samsung/HTC/Motorola etc. users who have departed via the same route?

        2. darklord

          Re: It's all about the money

          Partly true re CE. the Mark is equivalent to the BS kite mark of yesteryear.But the CE means nothingin itself its the test documentation and spec reports Cof C's and D of C's which back this up and is only applicable in the european community.

          Non european companies does not have to comply nor mark its products CE certified but do so they can sell in europe. as most people will now notice no CE mark in might be dodgy. but the mark doesnt mean that the relavant supporting tests and documents are actually in situ if coming from outside europe.

          TUV are one of the european test centres and trhere mark should back up the CE mark. Before some one jumps in yes i know there was an issue and fine a regarding fake tits in france.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: It's all about the money

            And the CE/TUV/Kitemarks are relevant regarding cheap Chinese crap sold in Thailand, exactly how?

        3. paulc

          Re: It's all about the money

          Apparently the CE marking as the Chinese are using it means Chinese Export...

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's all about the money

          Even CE marked chargers are not what they appear.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CE_marking#China_Export

          Just another con from the country trying to make some quick money and not bothering with the consequences.

          1. Thomas_Kent

            Well,

            This story may be apocryphal, but I remember reading some 30 years ago about goods marked "Made in USA" actually meant that they were made in a city named Usa.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's all about the money@ Lee D

        "That shouldn't happen unless you are somehow part of a circuit to ground and there's no RCD / ELCB at all."

        Not all of the UK, never mind the rest of the world is wired to the latest regs. Or even the 1997 version when I *think* RCD's became mandatory for new build in the UK (someone round here will know better). As for a cement floor conducting electricity, why not? Ever heard of the concept of "earth"?

        I would add that sticking fingers in a (powered) light socket might not kill you, but it certainly could, and is likely to cause a nasty and deep flesh burn in the fingertip. For those who think electricity can be messed with, I can assure you (having unintentionally messed with it) that it is dangerous, it can and does burn, it is painful, and you feel a right tit turning up at A&E having done this - typing this looking at the entry and exit scars on my right hand :(

      3. Number6

        Re: It's all about the money

        A concrete floor is considered to be a fairly low impedance to ground.

        As for dodgy chargers, it's worth looking on Google for articles where someone strips down a dodgy charger and explains all the problems. You'll find that many of them don't use properly rated components, the design often doesn't meet the performance specification, the safety clearances are not met and the isolation transformer is not double insulated. No wonder there are failures - it might still be a one-in-a-million chance, but if you've got ten million out there, that's ten people getting zapped, and more likely than winning the lottery jackpot.

        There's also a fire hazard - if you leave your phone charging overnight, you might be woken early by the smoke alarm. Approved devices are usually more fire resistant than the dodgy ones.

      4. Triggerfish

        Re: It's all about the money

        I can assure you the electrical standards in the average Thai house fall somewhat short of British standards.

        Not sure about sticking your finger in a socket much either, still have a couple of small burn scars from touching a live socket by mistake - that was in the UK.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Must have been one hell of a heated conversation.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Was

      Was he in the shower like the last one?

    6. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: It's all about the money

      Unfortunately this will keep happening whilst Apple are charging £15 for a cable when I can buy 2 off eBay for 99p. 30 cables for the price of one is a no brainer.

      The cables are not the problem, the charger inbetween the socket and the cable is. Unless you're in the habit of jamming your charger cable directly into the mains socket, in which case I can guarantee that that UKP15 Official Apple Cable will kill you just as dead as a crappy 99p one, all other conditions being equal.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's all about the money

      It's not the cable it's the charger.

      Doubt anyone is going to get scorched using a genuine Apple charger even with a fake cable - that 5v at around 2a max is not likely to be fatal. These are when obviously mains voltages are being allowed to pass to the cable - so again IT'S THE CHARGER NOT THE CABLE.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's all about the money

      You must be pretty rough with your cables - I have original Apple cables that sit in my backpack, get used every day and folded / unfolded repeatedly - I've not had one fail. It's not to say they could not - accidents happen and there are physical limits to anything like this.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's all about the money

      The Apple parts have been tested and approved under CE and other regulatory schemes required to sell products in the EU and US. The cheapo parts will be unsafe and therefore cheap and nasty.

    10. MrGoggle

      Re: It's all about the money

      There is no point in saving money at the risk of losing your or a loved one's life.

      Majority of the charges from reputable companies go through a variety of safety tests as not to kill or injure a person. There is a cost involved and the customer pays either with their life by taking a chance or buy paying more to have a safe charger.

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    The wonders of having a metal phone body

    If the phone has a plastic body (like my Xperia Arc S) a deffective charger leaking 220V onto it will kill the phone and do nothing to the user.

    If, however, it has a nice shiny and conductive metal rim... If the user is holding it tightly by same said rim (I know - holding it wrong)... If the rim is connected directly to bits of the circuitry because it is serving as an antenna... If these connections have no means of limiting the current to a sub-letal < 200mA by design...

    1. Michael Thibault

      Mandating the dogfooding of their own charger designs—for example, by using each until an internal component (diode, resistor, heart, etc.) fails—would likely have a salutary effect on what's produced in pursuit of the quick buck made off the backs of the cheap and the not-so-swift. You buy cheap, you get cheap—and you encourage cheap to enter the marketplace.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Dogfooding...?

        1. Turtle

          "Dogfooding".

          "Dogfooding" - Forcing a group of engineers, product designers, company employees to actually use the products they design on a daily basis. They make the dogfood and they have to eat it. So they better make it good.

          Example: the bosses of the local mass transit department have limousines and so do not actually have to use the mass transit which they oversee. "Dogfooding" would have them stripped of their limousines and compelled to use the public transport for which they are responsible.

          Ha-ha-ha - like *that* would ever happen.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Dogfooding".

            I guess it does at Apple as their stuff works - remember this was not due to a fault with the Apple charger / cable - he was using some (defective) 3rd party cable.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Holmes

      Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

      @Voland's - "If the phone has a plastic body (like my Xperia Arc S) a deffective charger leaking 220V onto it will kill the phone and do nothing to the user."

      I agree.

      Funny that the defective charger gets all the blame. Not sure how the various national Product Safety Commissions allowed a metal-frame phone that you hold to your face to ever make it onto the market.

      You've got to be a fool to hold one to your ear while its plugged into a wall outlet. Any frayed or loose wiring, even on a professionally-designed charger cord, could give you quite a jolt.

    3. poopypants

      @Voland's right hand (Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body)

      So his death was a direct result of product design choice. Lucky for Apple this didn't happen in the USA.

      Anyone remember the Ford Pinto?

    4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

      As the charger is only designed to deliver a few volts, and almost any plug you think of has the zero/earth on the outer shell of the plug, a metal casing should be perfectly safe. An old-fashioned charger with transformer would insulate the low voltage circuit completely from mains, and is therefore the safer option. However, with copper prices the way they are, and the weight and bulk of a transformer, most supplies are now switching power supplies, in which there is a potential conductive path from mains to low voltage. Properly designed, there should be fail-safes that should prevent accidents happening. In cheap replacements, these can apparently fail. So while I can understand why phone designers can get metal casings approved, a plastic case would provide an extra fail-safe. Not buying dodgy chargers is another.

      1. Wyrdness

        Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

        Apparently the switching power supplies actually deliver half of the mains voltage though the metal case. So if you're in a 230v country, the phone will be live with 115v. The current is so low that this is considered safe. However, a cheaply made and uncertified power supply might well be capable of delivering a much higher current through the case.

        1. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

          Then why hasn't there been more reports of burnt-out JesusPhones? Or House Fires caused by these cheap Chargers for that matter?

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

          @Wyrdness

          Switching power supplies tend to contain a noise filter on the mains side that can make the output appear at half the mains voltage, but at a high resistance. Usually enough to light up a neon bulb as used in those mains probe/screwdrivers (those work on less than 0.5mA), and you can sense it if you have conductive skin and a good path to ground (for me, just once with an old XT plugged into an unearthed socket, but I'm rather resistant; I usually go "hmm, tingling, must be live" when I accidentally touch hot mains circuits).

          When one of the capacitors comprising the filter shorts out, and I've seen quite a number of cheap PSUs where that had happened, you have 50-50 chance of the PSU output going hot. And without a GFI/RCB you're now getting mains into some organs that don't quite appreciate that

        3. Number6

          Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

          If it's a 2-pin supply then yes, there's usually some EMC suppression capacitors in the supply that cross the safety barrier. I think it's about 3nF, and if you've got an AC (milli)ammeter you can measure the current between the supply output and a convenient ground point.

          Ironically, the cheap supply probably won't bother fitting EMC capacitors, so might not have this small leakage current.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

        most supplies are now switching power supplies, in which there is a potential conductive path from mains to low voltage

        Beg pardon?

        Switching PSUs have transformers just like conventional power supplies, only much smaller: a transformer's power capability is [some factor] * [core area] * [working frequency], and by driving a SPSU's transformer at >50kHz they can be made sufficiently small to get >10W from a small (and light) wallwart. The feedback to regulate the output is via optocoupler (I've not seen otherwise, even in the crappiest units), and the only possible galvanic connection between mains and output is via the filter, as noted. or insufficient isolation (PCB or transformer) between mains and secondary.

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

          @ Stoneshop Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

          You are right: the filter is the main culprit. Possibly the reduced distance between mains and low-voltage ends of the small transformer (compared to the beefier old ones) increases risk, but that distance is not smaller that the distances typically found in optical couplers (and they are safe, as a rule).

        2. Robin Bradshaw

          Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi-b9k-0KfE

          Have a watch of the EEVblog teardown of a pair of chinese fake apple chargers and stare in awe at the piss poor creepage distances and shoddy manufacturing.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

      Until you touch the metal connector of the micro USB cable. It's not the iPhone or the Apple charger or Apple cable at fault - the guy was (unfortunately) using a 3rd party charger which was a bit like sticking wired direct into the plug socket.

    6. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

      a deffective charger leaking 220V onto it will kill the phone and do nothing to the user.

      Probably not even kill the phone, as long as the charger's output voltage doesn't rise beyond what the phone can take. That the entire phone is at 230V AC is irrelevant in this respect; it's similar to birds sitting on an overland power line.

    7. Don Jefe

      Re: The wonders of having a metal phone body

      That's not how insulators or touchscreen phones work. Firstly 220V at mains amperage will jump right across a plastic phone case, there simply isn't enough insulator there. Calculate it yourself, it isn't hard. Besides, charging socket has nothing to do with the case anyway, that's all board.

      Secondly, that big ass conductive screen you've got stuck to the side of your head is the quickest way out of the phone, not the case, regardless of its composition. In an oversupply situation the entire touchscreen is going to carry that load straight to your head in a very consumer unfriendly high surface area kind of way.

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I wonder if the noises at night

    were really a clean up squad.

  4. James Boag

    dogfooding

    dogfooding means "using your own product"

  5. Syren Baran
    Boffin

    How is this even possible?

    Low voltage, low frequency currents are generally only lethal if the current passes the heart. So, if you hold the phone in one hand, having some burn marks or whatever, understandable, but how can you even get into a situation where you die from it?

    Did this guy stand in salt-water while using his phone? Clutched some metal piping with his other hand? Magical device defies laws of physics?

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: How is this even possible?

      If he was in bare feet, damp concrete would suffice.

      The problem with a live phone housing is that when electric current passes through your hands it causes the muscles to contract, which causes the hand to close, as the grabbing muscles are stronger than the ones that open the hand. The result is that your grip tightens on the very thing you need to let go of.

      This is why firefighters feel their way in dark buildings with the back of their hand, not their fingertips - if your hand should touch something live, the muscle spasm will pull it away from the object, rather than gripping it.

      Not exactly Apple's fault - but it shows that a design choice that has no problems when used in affluent countries can become problematical where there are less stringent controls on its operating environment.

  6. Michael Habel Silver badge
    Boffin

    Really I just have Two questions to raise here.

    1) Can you be "Electrocuted" at such low Voltages Now I don't know Apples direct Specs. But, I gather its likely somewhere in the 5V 2A range. Like it is on my Samsung Phablet(s).

    And he was on a cement floor - so what the hell was forming the circuiting? The DC cable into the phone shouldn't even be able to carry that sort of power enough to actually electrocute you before melting / blowing an internal fuse and how the hell did it manage to arc from the AC to the DC side of the transformer?

    Thanks for posting that, Cause that's the exact Question that was rolling though my mind!

    2) If (Cr)Apple know People are dying 'cause they can't afford to purchase a Device Legal Charger (Kinda begs how the can afford the JesusPhone to begin with!?), then why cant they just bung them in to the actual Package?

    Bonus Question: Why hasn't the EU smacked (Cr)Apple down yet for not switching over to the MicroUSB Standard(s) yet?!

    1. Chris Walton

      I watched a documentary on fake chargers where they took one apart, it had virtually nothing inside and was delivering 230 volts straight to the device (a Nintendo 3DS in this case). That's how a fake charger electrocutes you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I just have the one question, Oh, and one comment. And one answer.

      Question:

      Why would a commenter think that anyone would take their point seriously when they use those stupid "hater" phrases like "(Cr)Apple" and "JesusPhone"?

      Comment:

      Please use some sort of grammar and spell check.

      Answer:

      Apple comply with the agreement that many phone manufacturers made to standardise on Micro USB charging - the agreement was to either use Micro USB, or to make adapters available to allow charging from Micro USB chargers. Apple have done so, and in the spirit of the conversation I'll provide links to genuine Apple ones rather than cheap ones you can buy off eBay:

      http://store.apple.com/uk/product/MD820ZM/A/lightning-to-micro-usb-adapter?fnode=48

      http://store.apple.com/uk/product/MD099ZM/A/apple-iphone-micro-usb-adapter?fnode=48

      This way, they would I am sure argue, you can use your existing charger cables (perhaps ones, like mine, built in to your car) but still get the benefits of the advanced connector which carries audio and video as well as power and sync abilities and in the case of Lightning is reversible (which is nice).

      1. bpfh Bronze badge
        Trollface

        Re: I just have the one question, Oh, and one comment. And one answer.

        JesusPhone is the correct and official name for phones designed by Apple boffins and built by underpaid Chinese slave labour when used on El Reg...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      (Cr)Apple - really. How old - 12, 14 perhaps?

      Apple supply a charger and cable with each phone. A spare charger is £15 or you can charge from most computer USB ports.

    4. Ted Treen
      Childcatcher

      Since you insist...

      ...on using Kiddietalk like (Cr)Apple, might one point out your omission in not referring to the EU(SSR)?

    5. Tom 260

      Not the voltage...

      It's not the voltage that kills you, it's the amps. Going by a site with info on PAT testing, and it quotes 60mA AC and 300mA DC as sufficient to induce ventricular fibrillation, passing through the chest (direct to the heart is as little as 1mA).

      As for concrete providing an earth for the current, it does have a resistance of about 120 Ohms, but it will still conduct (concrete also corrodes through a process of electrolysis, which progressively lowers the resistance to below 80 Ohms).

    6. John Tserkezis

      Long post alert:

      Since everyone voted you down, and not for entirely valid reasons, I'll try answering.

      "1) Can you be "Electrocuted" at such low Voltages Now I don't know Apples direct Specs. But, I gather its likely somewhere in the 5V 2A range. Like it is on my Samsung Phablet(s)."

      As others have mentioned, it's the amps that kill you, not the volts. Not quite right. If you equate electricity to water, amps would be the volume of water, and volts would be the pressure. You can have a substancial volume of water waiting to bowl you over, but if there's no pressure in the garden hose - nothing's going to happen.

      Likewise with electricty, it's considered 30mA (0.030amps) is the maximum safe amount of electricity you can have pass through you, without reliably killing you. But that's only part of the story - how many volts do you need to reliably push 30mA through you? That's the question - the are a WIDE range of conditions that affect how many volts are going to be presented to your skin, not only that, your skin conditions vary WIDELY that affect the number too. Short answer, 5 volts is considered nowhere near enough, 110 is considered plenty.

      That's where the faults come in. Due to the cheapness, unreliability, and outright dangerous design practices of the fake chargers, it's possible for the mains voltages to appear on the 5v low voltage side.

      THAT'S what kills you.

      "2) If (Cr)Apple know People are dying 'cause they can't afford to purchase a Device Legal Charger (Kinda begs how the can afford the JesusPhone to begin with!?), then why cant they just bung them in to the actual Package?"

      Two points, it's not Apple's job to police the fakes. It's a good idea to - after all, the fakes are considered to be rubbishing their name - but it's still not their job. Apple has a strict sales system that means, if you want an Apple product, you MUST go through their outlets. If you buy them on eBay, rest assured they're fakes. The users know this, make no mistake about it. They can't prove otherwise, but I'll bet in their respective afterlives, they're thinking that ten bucks wasn't worth it.

      Second point, the mains wall wart is not included to reduce the inital cost of the phone, and knowing you MUST have a computer to use it at all, they let the user decide. This is not an Apple "thing", it's common practice, and personally, I always use my USB ports to charge my phone.

      A third point you didn't mention but is still worthy: Why is Apple implicated in this issue, when technically, ANY phone manufacturer is suseptable to fakes? Easy. Apple marketing for some time now, has been centered entirely around not so much the relatively modest products, but around what they stand for. The "name" if you will. Apple users commonly buy because of the name, so much so, that even their fakes must have the apple design and name. Yes, the marketing is of Apple's making, but still not their fault, every other fashion label that's considered famous (and even some not so famous one's) do exactly the same thing.

      There is a plethora of third-party no-name cheapies that are sold to just about every phone market (including Apple). All of which exhibit the same issues, or at least have the potential issues, but let's just say that users of other brands are perhaps not so driven on name of pheripherals, rather than function.

      "Bonus Question: Why hasn't the EU smacked (Cr)Apple down yet for not switching over to the MicroUSB Standard(s) yet?!"

      It's not their job. There is no law that says you MUST have a partiular interface, even if most everyone else does. It's great for us CONSUMERS if they use a standard interface, it's great for APPLE if they use a proprietary one. They're a business after all...

  7. Lockwood

    Jesus Phone shall smite those who darest to use an unapproved charger in violation of the Commandments with lightning

  8. Arachnoid

    Failing to Danger

    The cheaper components used in this type of charger have a lower insulation rating which over time degrades to such a level the current passes through them to at least some lower or greater degree.Because they are poorly designed for minimal function they fail to danger instead of failing to safety i.e. the full power input is directed to the USB output port instead of being isolated.The USB cabling itself is not designed or insulated enough to carry a full mains charge safely without hazard to the user ergo the user is in effect a conductor from the cable or device which is now at mains power to any lower voltage or Earthed surface they touch.

  9. Sceptic Tank
    Alert

    Circuit breakers

    Isn't the wiring in the house supposed to contain a circuit breaker that will trip if there is a short circuit or an overload?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Circuit breakers

      Maybe in the UK it would - but this guy was in Thailand and perhaps they do not have the same safeguards.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Circuit breakers

      Circuit breakers are rated to trip at currents over the nominal circuit load, and even at their smallest rating, that's about 100 times over the average lethal current. Ground Fault Interruptors/Residual Current Breakers are meant to trip when about 30mA worth of electrons decide to take a path to earth through your body instead of back via mains neutral as would be proper, but clearly this guy didn't enjoy the benefit of having one installed.

    3. P0l0nium

      Re: Circuit breakers

      There's supposed to be an 'earth leakage trip' that will save your life if more than a few ma passes from live to Earth. Grabbing Neutral in one hand and live in the other ... it won't trip, and you will die. (Or more likely have a memorable few seconds, pick yourself up and say "ouch!").

      Killing humans doesn't count as a "short".

    4. John Tserkezis

      Re: Circuit breakers

      "Isn't the wiring in the house supposed to contain a circuit breaker that will trip if there is a short circuit or an overload?"

      You're thinking of earth leakage current safety devices, and they're not fitted everywhere. At least here in Australia (not sure about the policy of other countries), they're manitory for new installations, but for existing installs, only if the owner specifically requests an electrician retrofit it - and then, if the panel is old and not compatible, it has to be replaced - ends up being quite an expensive retrofit.

      Short answer is, even in this first world country, most don't. If you're talking third-world, there are enough non-qualified electrician installs that will probably give you an idea of how many have it.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheap Chargers

    There are teardowns of clone chargers online. Some of the cheap ones from fleabay are terrifying.

    What's worse is that many of the cheap clone devices are stamped with CE and other regulatory markings. Of course they aren't certified but that doesn't stop them putting it on there anyway.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Cheap Chargers

      The 7-11 near me sells iPhone chargers for $1.29 that are stamped with the UL logo and all the correct fine print on the prong side. The font it wrong and it just says 'Apple' not 'Apple Japan' like all my others, but I like to think I know what I'm looking at. I can easily see how people could be fooled.

      The UL or CE or whatever stamped on a product lost its usefulness about 1.7 seconds after somebody figured out that you could print whatever you wanted if you rearranged the letters on the press. Holograms, watermarks, all that stuff, none of it serves a purpose to the average consumer. It doesn't really serve a purpose to most resellers either beyond citing it in a court case.

      The vast majority of people don't know what those things are really supposed to look like anyway. In all my years of shifting products towards the end user I've worked with maybe 12 companies who had requested the hologram/watermark/certification validation kits that have a sample of how they're really supposed to look and documentation describing it all. You've got to have the validation kits and actually check the products against them or any point in the chain is open to intrusion by counterfeit products.

      Thing is, even among the small set of suppliers that actually have the validation kits (free on request) checking inventory against them is a big, time consuming task that actually requires discrimination so it isn't an appropriate task for warehouse staff so you've got to have an origin validation officer/agent to deal with it all.

      My point in all this is that even if something is marked appropriately, 99% of people in the supply chain don't know how to validate those markings as genuine. You can get away with printing just about anything you want onto anything you want and nobody is going to know. Even if something goes horribly wrong it's impossible to track the products back to their original illegitimate origins. It's all a huge mess with zero accountability.

  11. David Pearce

    Thailand has very high lightning strike rates, that cause frequent nuisance tripping and wear out ELCBs in no time. A direct strike on the house will blast straight through even a genuine power supply insulation

  12. sisk Silver badge

    This really doesn't make sense to me. Either these cheap chargers are feeding the iPhones with AC power or they're pushing an absolutely insane amount of DC power. The AC power would fry an iPhone in very short order (negating the need to talk on it), and anything pushing the kind of amperage it would take to electrocute someone with DC would not be using 'cheap knockoff' type components. How is this happening?

    1. P0l0nium

      My lord, you're ill informed.... Do you get to vote?

      Get a physics book and start with "Ohm's Law".

  13. P0l0nium

    With modern cheap switch-mode PSUs you are separated from rectified mains (400V) by a single oxide thickness or an opto-isolator. Given that 4 Bilion of them are made every year it is truly remarkable

    a) That anyone is left alive at all.

    b) That everyone's house hasn't burnt down.

    It just proves how wonderful semiconductor reliability engineers really are!

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