If you’ve bought a supposedly genuine Apple charger online, you may want to double-check that it’s the real deal — not only are online marketplaces packed full of fakes, but 99% of these counterfeits were found to fail basic safety tests.
You might think that buying an Apple cable or adaptor described online as “genuine” would guarantee you an honest-to-goodness product designed by the Cupertino tech giant. But in October this year, it was revealed that Apple was taking legal action against a company called Mobile Star for selling counterfeit Apple power adaptors and chargers via Amazon, the world’s biggest online marketplace.
This much is old news, at least as far as true Apple aficionados are concerned, but a recent investigation into just how dangerous these fake products can be has left consumers reeling.
BBC News reports that, in a series of tests carried out by the UK’s Trading Standards and consumer testing laboratory UL, it was found that 397 of 400 fake Apple chargers obtained from retailers in countries including the US and UK had insufficient electrical insulation, and could potentially cause real harm.
Experts have advised that consumers examine their supposedly genuine accessories closely — although you may see an Apple logo or text mimicking those on genuine products, counterfeit often have spelling mistakes or very minor variations in wording. Safety marks printed on the products are also (intentionally) slightly off. Trading Standards offered this advice for spotting a fake:
- Plug the charger into a socket, but don’t switch it on or connect to a device. If the charger does not fit easily, the pins may be the wrong size. There should be at least 9.5mm (0.3in) between the edge of the pins and the edge of the charger.
- Look for a manufacturer’s brand name or logo, model and batch number. Check for the “CE” safety mark (within the EU), but be aware it can be easily forged.
- User instructions should include conditions and limitations of use, how to operate the charger safely, basic electric safety guidance and details of safe disposal.
You might save a few bucks by buying a third-party product this Christmas, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Apple’s own accessories are a bit on the pricey side, but when it comes to your and your family’s safety, there’s really no reason to cut corners. Besides, when you’ve splashed hundreds of dollars or pounds on a shiny new phone, tablet or laptop, do you really want to hook it up to some cheap knock-off that might fry its innards?