One of the side effects of the tremendous popularity of iPhones and iPads has been the counterfeit Apple product market, which looks to lure in consumers who want to purchase items like chargers for less money than Apple's official offerings.

However, those counterfeit chargers can be fairly dangerous, as highlighted by the tragic story of a Chinese woman who was electrocuted by a counterfeit charger while charging her iPhone last year. Following up his look at the difference between real and counterfeit iPhone chargers, Ken Shirriff has taken to his blog (via Daring Fireball) to explore the differences between the real and fake iPad chargers.

ipad-chargers-top

Apple's official iPad charger (left) vs counterfeit (right).

He compared the differences between Apple's real $19 iPad charger and a $3 he found on eBay. While they look exactly the same on the outside, he found major differences on the inside. Apple's charger is crammed full of bigger, higher quality components while the counterfeit has low-quality components and more space. Another difference was a safety measure:

One safety difference is obvious: 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.

Flipping the boards over reveals another obvious safety difference: Apple's charger includes red insulating tape while the counterfeit does not. One not-so-obvious difference is the space between high and low voltage currents running through the boards. While Apple's charger includes a safe 4mm separation between the two, the counterfeit only features a 0.6mm separation. Shirriff notes this means a simple drop of condensation could cause the charger to zap the user.

Another key difference is the power output. Apple's charger outputs 10W at a steady rate while the counterfeit outputs 5.9W with frequent spikes, which means that Apple's charger charges the iPad quicker with a higher quality of energy.

Shirriff goes into far greater detail with extensive images and graphs detailing the specific differences between Apple's real iPad charger and the counterfeit. The full comparison is available on his blog. Users who believe they have a counterfeit charger may take part in Apple's third-party charger takeback program.

Top Rated Comments

ck2875 Avatar
96 months ago
While they look exactly the same on the outside, he found major differences on the inside.

I'm pretty sure Apple's isn't brown…
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ChrisA Avatar
96 months ago
I've actually done design work on power supplies. The hard part is not simply designing something that works but one that remains safe AFTER a major component failure. You you ask "does the unit remain safe AFTER a short inside the transformers. If a capacitor blows and bits of metal are scattered around does the unit remain safe. The trouble is that there are about a b-zillion ways things can break and you can't think of them all so you use general purpose "backups" like wrapping the higher voltage part in tape. This is a "backup" and costs money but contributes ZERO visible features. It's the same with the gap on the circuit board. board manufactures charge by the square inch, so gaps cost money can add no visible features. The better design will have two or three backups and will remain safe even after a major component failure but people don't like paying for this

My bet is that if air bags and seat belts were an optional higher priced option on cars, many people would not spend the money. Same with power supplies consumers mostly buy based on price.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bjb568 Avatar
96 months ago
Having gone through 2 ipad chargers and 3 Macbook chargers in the last couple of years (all failing at the device connector end) I'm sure Apple could kill the counterfeit market simply by stopping theirs from breaking on a regular basis. The guy in our local apple shop even recommends to people that they wrap a spring out of a pen around the end to give it more support!

What did the chargers ever do to you? Why do you need to abuse them? From my experience, Apple chargers take a lot to break.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ammanas Avatar
96 months ago
I'm pretty sure Apple's isn't brown…

If you go to his blog, you'll see both of the chargers in their cases side by side. They do look exactly the same.
I think the brown stuff is merely the innercase.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
haruhiko Avatar
96 months ago
I never bought any counterfeit power supply since it is THE most vital component of all electronic devices - the energy source! Poor power supplies can kill your devices or even yourself.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gasu E. Avatar
96 months ago
Apple's charges with higher quality energy? Maybe Apple should produce cars, exhaust probably smells of strawberry.

The article demonstrates that Apple's electrical products are markedly safer than some of the knock-offs. There are objective standards for making this determination. As an electrical engineer, my professional opinion confirms the writer's conclusions. The evidence presented in the article is very clear, and the writer appears to be very knowledgable.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple california streaming event

Apple Event Announced: 'California Streaming' on September 14 With iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7 Expected

Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple today announced that it will be holding a special event on Tuesday, September 14 at 10:00 a.m. The event will take place at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with WWDC and last year's fall events, this new event will be held digitally with no members of the media invited to attend in person. Apple will likely provide pre-taped segments for...
iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived in October 2020 in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone...
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
maroon5memories

Apple Collaborates With Maroon 5 to Add 'Memories' Song to Photos App

Wednesday September 25, 2019 12:02 pm PDT by
Apple has teamed up with Maroon 5 to add the group's new song "Memories" to the Memories feature in the Photos app, allowing it to be used for photo slide show creations, reports Billboard. "Memories" will be available as a soundtrack option for a limited time and it is available to iPhone and iPad users running the latest iOS 13 and iPadOS software. Memories in the Photos app are created ...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
Top Stories 75 Thumbnail

Top Stories: Last-Minute iPhone 13 Rumors, Apple Announces App Store Changes, and More

Saturday September 4, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
The finish line is in sight! Apple's annual iPhone event is likely just a week or so away and all eyes will be on the company as it unveils the next version of its most popular product line. With any luck, we'll also see the next-generation Apple Watch and perhaps even some new AirPods. Other news this week saw Apple making some more changes to its App Store policies in response to a...
Top Stories 74 Thumbnail

Top Stories: iPhone 13 Nears Launch, Larger Apple Watch?, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini Rumors

Saturday August 28, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
August is rapidly drawing to close, which means Apple's annual iPhone launch event is right around the corner. iPhone 13 and Apple Watch Series 7 rumors are continuing to circulate, and we're also hearing about Mac updates likely coming a bit later. Apple is also finishing up work on its upcoming software updates like iOS 15, with some late-addition features starting to go live in beta while ...
iPhone 13 Wi Fi 6E feature update

Wi-Fi 6E Explained: What It Could Mean for iPhone 13 and Beyond

Monday August 2, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 is widely expected to come with Wi-Fi 6E capabilities, and while it may seem rather nuanced to the average consumer, with only improved speeds and being "up to date" in the realm of Wi-Fi technology, it's actually a fairly significant improvement, laying the groundwork for much of what we know the future holds. To truly understand Wi-Fi 6E, MacRumors sat down for an exclusive...