Manufacturers of counterfeit Apple products often go to great lengths to make their knock-offs look genuine, which brings the added risk of concealing potentially dangerous flaws in substituted electrical components.

In the past we've covered the efforts manufacturers go to when counterfeiting iPhone and iPad chargers, courtesy of product teardowns on Ken Shirrif's technology blog. Now, a new post on Shirrif's site offers a detailed teardown and analysis of the differences between a counterfeit MacBook charger and a genuine unit, providing a great example of how cosmetic similarities can hide major safety defects.

Counterfeit MacBook charger comparison

A counterfeit MagSafe 45W charger (left) and a genuine 60W charger (right).

Shirrif notes that counterfeit chargers he's examined in the past have usually had external flaws that give them away, but that this latest MacBook charger knock-off almost had him fooled, too.

The exterior text on this charger was correct, no "Designed by Abble" or "Designed by California". It had a metal ground pin, which fakes often exclude. It had the embossed Apple logo on the case. The charger isn't suspiciously lightweight. Since I've written about these errors in fake chargers before, I half wonder if the builders learned from my previous articles.

Only when Shirrif cracks open the charger are the differences laid bare. A real Apple charger is packed full of complex circuitry, but the counterfeit contains a fairly low density board that uses a simpler power supply with a dangerously small isolation gap between the AC input and the low-voltage output.

Shirrif also identifies a distinct lack of insulation tape between the two voltages on the circuit board, a metal grounding pin not connected to anything, and a fluctuating power output. See his post for the full comparison.

Three years ago, a Chinese woman was electrocuted by a counterfeit charger while charging her iPhone, highlighting the significant dangers these products pose to consumers. Users who suspect they have a counterfeit charger can take part in Apple's third-party charger takeback program to safely dispose of the adapters.

Top Rated Comments

jayhawk11 Avatar
70 months ago
Using a fake charger is certainly a terrible idea, but so is charging $80 for a replacement MagSafe charger.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
70 months ago
What do you people do to your chargers? Seriously?

I've only had one magsafe charger go bad in the history of my using them, back in 2007. Even then it was a known defect at the time; the springs that push the pins out failed. The cable itself was fine.

I've had my current chargers ever since then, and never has one broken since. I also see people who go through lightning cables like water; they break all the time for them, whereas I still have my original lightning cables going back to my iPhone 5 three years ago.

I suspect most people are really rough with their chargers. I treat my stuff with care. Maybe ya'll should too?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
randyroverly Avatar
70 months ago
Apple's version looks vastly superior compared to the knockoff but the problem is, they are just as faulty. I've personally replaced 4 power adapters in the last 3 years. Consider me unlucky, but I never had to replace any power cords on any other laptops I've owned. I didn't mind it so much until the Applecare ran out, then you have to pay retail for replacements. I love the design of the magsafe (having small children), but it definitely needs improvement on reliability.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
foobarbaz Avatar
70 months ago
You can grab Apple original chargers for $40 from Groupon.

https://www.groupon.com/deals/gg-apple-magsafe-2-power-adapters-for-macbook-1
No no no!

Such deals are a surefire way to get counterfeits. There are no great deals on originals. Retail margins are too low. If its even 20% off, be very suspicious.

If it says "bulk packaging" (and it does!), stay the hell away. Apple doesn't sell them in bulk. But counterfeiters want to avoid the expensive trouble of faking the packaging. But some still do, so everything other than big retailers is kinda risky.

I personally don't mind cheaper 3rd party alternatives. But if the manufacturer tries to deceive or is too ashamed to put their own name on the box, I don't trust them with my life.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MasterMac Avatar
70 months ago
Using a fake charger is certainly a terrible idea, but so is charging $80 for a replacement MagSafe charger.
The rest of the thread will be filled with one of the two types of replies:

I have taken care of my cables and have never had to replace them ever.

I have had to replace it 10 times in my 6 months of owning it.

Take your pick on the more popular one this time!

Edit: seems I was a little too slow to catch the first two :(
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coolfactor Avatar
70 months ago
Using a fake charger is certainly a terrible idea, but so is charging $80 for a replacement MagSafe charger.
I've written to Apple (via Feedback forms) about this. The price is $99.99 here in Canada. Absolutely disgusting how Apple gets away with this. If you're going to charge that much, at least make the low-voltage cable detachable and replaceable on its own, as that's the one part that is usually the reason for replacing. Why replace the entire power adapter block every time? Apple REALLY needs to fix this flawed design!
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Pro Display XDR Yella

Apple Working on External Display With Built-In A13 Chip

Friday July 23, 2021 9:37 am PDT by
Apple is developing an external display that includes an A13 chip with Neural Engine, according to a new rumor from 9to5Mac. The A13 chip with Neural Engine would presumably serve as an eGPU, though details are light at this time. Having a CPU/GPU built into the external display could help Macs deliver high-resolution graphics without using all the resources of the computer's internal chip....
airpods 3 gizmochina Feature

AirPods 3 Rumored to Launch Alongside iPhone 13 at Expected September Event

Friday July 23, 2021 12:54 am PDT by
The third-generation AirPods will likely launch at the same event revealing Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup, according to a report from DigiTimes, which makes the claim citing sources familiar with the matter. The report as a whole echoes previous reporting that production of the third-generation AirPods will kickstart in August, meaning a launch shortly after can be easily expected. DigiTi...
discount m1 macbook yellow

Deals: Shop Record Low Prices Across Apple's Full MacBook Pro and MacBook Air Lineup (Up to $499 Off)

Friday July 23, 2021 8:23 am PDT by
Apple's MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lineup is seeing all-time low discounts across the board today, including the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro, 2020 13-inch MacBook Air, and 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. 13-Inch M1...
iPad mini pro feature

Next iPad Mini Won't Feature Mini-LED Display, Claims Display Analyst

Friday July 23, 2021 8:07 am PDT by
Yesterday, DigiTimes claimed that the upcoming iPad mini will feature a mini-LED display, but now, display analyst Ross Young is going at odds with that report, claiming that while the updated iPad mini continues to be on track for a release this year, it won't feature a mini-LED display. Young says he "confirmed" with Radiant Opto-Electronics, who DigiTimes claims would provide Apple with...
idos 2 app ios

Apple to Pull 'iDOS 2' DOS Emulator From App Store

Thursday July 22, 2021 3:22 pm PDT by
iDOS 2, an app designed to allow users to play classic DOS games, will soon be pulled from the App Store, the app's creator said today. According to iDOS developer Chaoji Li, he tried to submit an iDOS update with bug fixes to the App Store, but was told that the update was rejected because it violated the 2.5.2 App Store guideline that says apps cannot install or launch executable code.Durin...
m1 macbook air

Kuo: Mini-LED MacBook Air Coming in Mid-2022

Thursday July 22, 2021 7:48 pm PDT by
Apple will release a new version of the MacBook Air around the middle of 2022, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in note to investors seen by MacRumors. The upcoming MacBook Air will feature a 13.3-inch mini-LED display, which would make it the second Mac to gain mini-LED technology after the 2021 MacBook Pro, which is rumored to include a mini-LED display and is expected to launch later ...
iphone12cameras

iPhone Helps to Identify Rare Form of Cancer

Friday July 23, 2021 4:00 am PDT by
A photo taken on an iPhone has helped to identify a rare form of cancer, according to news reports. A mother of three from Gainesville, Florida took a photo of her three-month-old son using her iPhone and its True Tone flash, which highlighted an abnormality in his right eye. The boy's mother, a labor and delivery nurse, recalled learning about retinoblastoma during her training....
iphone 13 blue with text

iPhone 13 May Support 25W Fast Charge Power Adapter

Friday July 23, 2021 2:52 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 may support faster-charging speeds with a 25W power adapter, compared to the current limitation of the iPhone 12, which only supports fast charging at up to 20W, according to a rumor originating from China. The iPhone 12 supports fast charging with a 20W or higher power adapter; however, even if users use a more powerful wall adapter, the iPhone itself only supports up to 20W....
iPad mini pro feature

Next-Generation iPad Mini Will Reportedly Feature a Mini-LED Display

Thursday July 22, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple is widely rumored to be planning a new iPad mini with a significant redesign, including a larger 8.5-inch to 9-inch display with slimmer bezels, a Touch ID power button instead of a home button, a USB-C port instead of a Lightning connector, and more. According to a paywalled preview of a DigiTimes report today, the sixth-generation iPad mini will also feature a mini-LED display:BLU...
magsafe battery pack iphone 12 mini

Top Stories: Hands-On With MagSafe Battery Pack, iPhone 13 Always-On Display?

Saturday July 24, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe Battery Pack is now available, and we went hands-on this week for some early impressions of the new accessory to get more battery life out of Apple's iPhone 12 lineup. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. This week also saw a number of rumors about the upcoming redesigned MacBook Pro models, the iPhone 13 lineup, the next-generation iPad mini, a new...