Cheap phone charger cords; why you should STAY AWAY!
Have you ever been out and about, check your iPhone and notice you’re almost out of power? Panic starts to set in, and you need to figure out where your iPhone charger is. Only to realize you left it at home. It may be tempting to run to the nearest convenience store and grab a cheap cord. Please do not do this.
I’ll admit I am guilty of this myself, I have even bought them bulk from China (which is probably where they get them anyway). If your lucky to get one that actually connects and delivers power to the iPhone you are one step ahead of me. Most iPhone charger cords I bought usually didn’t work right away. Essentially garbage because it really wasn’t worth the drive back to the store for the few bucks it cost.
Here’s why you should stay away
IPhone’s are designed to regulate your charge. They have a chip in them (U2) which regulates how much voltage is sent to the motherboard inside your device. A real iPhone charger cable has a second chip inside it (E75) that validates the voltage entering the phone before it gets to the U2 chip and potentially fries it.
Are you stuck with only Apple branded charger cables?
No, surprisingly you’re not. There is an Apple program called MFi (Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod). What this program does it licenses the E75 chip to legitimate accessory manufacturers so they can produce products for Apple devices.
There are counterfeit E75 chips that have been reverse engineered to trick the Apple device into allowing the charger to give power to the device, but with anything counterfeit you run the risk of poor quality. Charging your $800-$1000 – now $2000 iPhone on a cheap iPhone charger cord seems kind of foolish if you understand the risks.
What could go wrong? I love taking risks
Well if you decide to buy a cheap iPhone charger cable, you could get lucky. If could work flawlessly for a short time (maybe the life of the cord as they don’t last as long as iPhone charger cords in my experience). However you could have a multitude of problems as well.
- Non Charging / non connecting
- Fake Charging (says its connected and charging, but the power level never increases)
- iTunes errors when trying to connect to your computer.
- random disconnects
- Cannot charge from completely dead (only from mid charge)
- battery drops percentages randomly
- iPhone wont charge past a certain percentage (random %)
- iPhone suddenly dies when the battery shows power.
Unfortunately the above are all signs of a potentially damaged E75 chip. If this chip is fried, changing out the battery or charging port will not correct the issue. The E75 chip is attached to the motherboard.
Meh! it’s just a phone. I’ll be upgrading soon
Understandably so, you could get away with these cords for the life of your phone. This is true. However another major concern, which is #1 in my opinion is improper isolation.
Inside the charger it converts 120V AC (or 240V AC in some areas of the world) into 5V DC for charging purposes. If the cord or charger block is built poorly you could potentially have insufficient isolation between the AC and DC lines. Theoretically you should be able to stand in the tub, plugged into your wall and not receive any issues.
If you have a poorly isolated device you could get 120V or240V) AC sent to your device and kill you.
Even if you have an Apple charge or MFi approved charger DO NOT TRY THIS. Also using an electrical device in a wet environment is a bad idea all around. Even the best manufacturers can have defects. It’s not worth trying.
How to tell if you have a knockoff iPhone charger cable?
Legitimate manufacturers need to pay licensing fees to be MFi certified. After paying the license fee and cost to make the product they will not make profit selling an iPhone Charger cable for $5. This is a very simple way to tell.
Unfortunately, if they are counterfeiting the E75 chip, what stops them from printing off a “Made for iPhone” sticker for their product? Nothing! The simple answer is you can buy from Apple directly, or a trusted source for Apple accessories.
The guy at the flea market selling apple cases and accessories out of the back of his truck, is probably not buying from licensed suppliers.
If you would like to know a bit more about these iPhone charger cables check out this article that got me to change my mind. Also it includes a nice little interpretation of the U2 and E75 chip communication process.
Do you use counterfeit (cheap) iPhone charger cables? Or do you specifically go for the MFi program products? lets discuss in the comments.