19 Mar 2021

Think Twice Before You Buy That Cheap Charger

Ashli LoppNews  

In online marketplaces, it is easy to shop for the best deal. However, buying the cheapest charger for your smartphone is risky. Here’s why.

In online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, it is easy to shop for the best deal. While being a bargain hunter can help you save money, sometimes it can get you into trouble. One product for which this holds true is mobile phone chargers. Buying a cheap charger for your smartphone is risky.

Locked down in his house due to COVID-19, a tech expert recently decided to purchase some cheap chargers ($10 or less) from eBay to find out the risks firsthand.

Although he ordered more than 20 chargers for his investigation, he received only 10 of them, five of which were iPhone chargers. Here is what he found when he examined and tested the five iPhone chargers:

  • All five chargers were counterfeits, even though the sellers’ descriptions claimed they were genuine Apple products.
  • One charger was dead on arrival, which was probably a good thing. Upon examination, it was found to be improperly grounded. Had the charger worked, it could have given the user an electric shock.
  • One charger died within minutes of being plugged in.
  • The three working chargers became overly hot when in use.
  • The three working chargers were not able to sustain the maximum stated output.

High-voltage tests were also performed on the three working iPhone chargers to see how well they handled a voltage spike (i.e., a sudden increase in voltage that lasts for less than 3 nanoseconds). While well-made chargers can safely handle 1,000-volt spikes, the counterfeit chargers allowed the spikes to enter the low-voltage side of the charger, which can injure users and damage phones.

Although the results of the tech expert’s investigation are unofficial, they are similar to the findings of other research conducted on counterfeit chargers. For example, a Trading Standards Institute study found that 99% of counterfeit Apple chargers bought online failed a basic safety test.

Counterfeits of other brands of chargers are also widely available in online marketplaces. Those knockoffs are also plagued by serious problems. For instance, when the charity Electrical Safety First tested a wide variety of counterfeit chargers, it found that 98% of them had the potential to cause a lethal electric shock or start a fire because they used substandard components and did not meet safety regulations.

When it comes to chargers, you are much better off purchasing one directly from the phone’s manufacturer. Another viable option is to purchase one directly from a well-known accessory manufacturer such as Belkin, Kensington, or Monoprice. That way, you will know that it is the real deal and not a counterfeit.

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