iPad charger teardown: Inside Apple’s charger and a risky $3 phony

“Apple sells their iPad charger for $19, while you can buy an iPad charger on eBay for about $3,” Ken Shirriff blogs. “From the outside, the chargers look the same. Is there a difference besides the price? In this article, I look inside real and counterfeit chargers and find that the genuine charger has much better construction, power quality, and most importantly safety. The counterfeit turns out to be a 5 watt charger in disguise, half the power of a genuine charger.”

“The Apple charger uses larger, higher-quality components (in particular the capacitors and the transformer),” Shirriff explains. “The Apple charger has much more insulation. The upper (high-voltage) half is wrapped in yellow insulating tape. Some components are encased in shrink tubing, there are plastic insulators between some components, and some wires have extra insulation. The counterfeit charger only has minimal insulation. The build quality of the Apple charger is much higher. In the counterfeit charger, some components are visibly crooked or askew. While this doesn’t affect the circuit electrically, it indicates a lack of care in construction.”

Shirriff advises, “Apple’s charger is expensive compared to other chargers, but is a high quality product. You should definitely stay away from the cheap counterfeit chargers, as they are low quality and dangerous.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. “Apple’s charger is expensive compared to other chargers, but is a high quality product. You should definitely stay away from the cheap counterfeit chargers, as they are low quality and dangerous.”

    Yep. Especially the “dangerous” part. I use lots of cheap knock-offs still for the old style on my iP4S, but when my wife’s iP5s seemed to die after using a Lightning cable knock-off, it was nothing but the real deal for her now. And I’ll be upgrading… SOON! 😀

  2. And Apple chargers last a LONG time. I still have a FireWire power adapter, which came with the first three generations of classic iPods, and it still works fine. It even works with my older iPhone.

    1. Yes! While apparently nobody uses Firewire any more, the Firewire 400 connector was the best non-locking wire interface ever to grace the consumer industry — then Apple abandoned it. The Dock connector is wobbly/sloppy in comparison and the miniscule Lightning connector just doesn’t seem very strong.

      But let’s not kid ourselves, Apple has had a number of charger problems over the years. The wires on the PowerBook chargers (pre-MagSafe) were wimpy. We went through several random failures before abandoning the Apple charger for a 3rd Party design that was much more durable. Apple has also had rashes of bad MagSafe chargers, with Apple redesigning it into MagSafe II to get it right.

      Apple wouldn’t have to worry as much about inferior knockoff chargers, cables, and adapters if it stopped gouging customers for them.

      1. I think the point of the story is that Apple is NOT gouging its customers. Customers are paying a premium price for a premium product that is better than the knockoffs in virtually every way. I’m not doing the analysis here. I am merely pointing out the bottom line assertion of the article.

      2. On the charger for my 2005 PowerBook G4, the cable insulation cracked where it came out of the power supply “box” due to insufficient strain relief. Apple replaced it, no questions, no cost, cross shipping the replacement. The replacement is still in active service.

      3. Fact check:

        MagSafe 2 was released to be thinner and able to fit the new retina display MacBooks., and not as a fix for defective MagSafe design. Apple still sells plenty of MagSafe notebooks.

  3. My daughter’s new Macbook Pro charger (1500 one-star ratings on the Apple Store) cable broke after about five months. Apple said it was not covered by Apple Care (Australia), and we had to buy a new one one for $100. Shabby treatment from Apple, I reckon…

    1. Good thing just the cable broke. If you had taken the risk of buying $3 counterfeit cable, you could easily have a power surge brake your $1000-2000 computer, or possibly even cause a fire.

  4. My daughter’s new MacBook Pro charger (1500 one star ratings on the Apple Store site) cable broke after five months. Local Apple Store would not replace it saying that it was not covered by Apple Care (Australia). Shoddy treatment (and manufacture) by Apple, I reckon…

  5. A portable ipad charger is the best charger that one can purchase. There are so many types of chargers for ipad, but the portable one is the perfect choice. You will be able to carry this charger with you and use it whenever your ipad runs out of battery. You do not have to miss capturing those special moments simply because the ipad is out of battery and it has been totally drained since you do not have access to a power socket. The portable ipad charger is, thus, a convenient and easy to use charger. The charger I am talking about will be fine here CHOETECH Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HZF6UD4

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