Ken Shirriff has a blog post detailing the performance of genuine and fake AC to USB chargers, and the dangers of using knockoffs.
In sum, even though the fake charger looks almost exactly like the real one on the outside, on the inside you’re like to find substandard components that are poorly assembled.
Transforming AC power into DC to power your gadgets is a complicated process, and fake chargers perform this poorly, with inconstant voltage output. Some problems you can expect would be touchscreens unresponsive while the charger is plugged in, gadgets taking longer than usual to charge, and in extreme cases “when hundreds of volts short out, the results can be spectacular.”
Shirriff gives overall ratings to about a dozen chargers, and it’s not a surprise that the ones that performed best are the original chargers that came with the gadgets (Apple iPhone and iPad chargers, HP TouchPad charger, Samsung phone charger, and Motorola phone charger), and the fake ones were the worst.
Money quote: “The counterfeit iPhone charger set a new low for bad quality, strikingly worse than the other two counterfeits.”
How do you tell a fake one from a genuine one? At least with Apple chargers, the genuine ones carry the “Designed by Apple in California” label while the fake one could instead say “Designed by California” or “Designed by Abble.”
So, the next time you feel like scrimping on the cost of an extra charger to use at home or for traveling, think twice, thrice, and think about the risks of getting “spectacular” results if your charger shorts out.
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