Over the last few years, there have been several instances where mobile phone chargers or batteries caused a fire. For example, a girl went to bed last year while her iPhone charged next to her.
Awoken by flames and suffering from burn wounds, she later explained that her charger caught fire and ignited the blanket. While she claims it was an official Apple charger and cable, several investigators blamed cheaper knock-offs and third-party accessories.
Read on to see how you risk everyone in your house when you decide to use cheaper cables rather than official products.
Here’s the backstory
Fires from faulty gadgets or poorly-constructed accessories aren’t anything new and certainly not limited to the U.S. On average, the London Fire Brigade said it attends to 24 fires each week caused by chargers, batteries and cables.
In the U.S., a New Hampshire fire department posted on Facebook that 53% of users charge their phones or tablets under a pillow.
Besides using unsafe charging techniques, there is another factor that people ignore. Rather than paying $19 for an official Apple Lightning to USB cable, many prefer to save money and purchase a third-party charger.
But therein lies the problem. Certified chargers and cables undergo vigorous testing to comply with health and safety standards. Uncertified, counterfeit or third-party products are not held to the same standard and often use inferior components.
These components aren’t as safe as those in certified products and can be highly susceptible to temperature fluctuations, breakage, and electrical malfunctions.
What you can do about it
The easiest way to identify an original product for Apple devices is to look for the “Made for iPhone” (MFi) badge. Of course, there are different variations depending on the Apple product that it is for, but they generally follow the same design aspects.
But that isn’t the only indicator of an MFi product. Apple explains a 12-digit serial number is printed on the cable with the words “Designed by Apple in California.” Other signs you should look for include:
- An Apple-branded cable has single pieces of rounded, smooth contacts. However, uncertified cables often have more than one piece with a rough or inconsistent finish with square contact edges.
- The width and length of the Apple boot (the plastic part before the contacts) will have a consistent measurement of 0.30-inches by 0.47-inches.
- The faceplate with the exposed contacts will have a gray or white insert. However, counterfeit cables often have black faceplates.
Some of the same checks also work for USB-C cables, but there are other aspects to note. For example, the inside of the USB-C end should be white. Also, the contacts inside an official Apple USB-C cable are consistent in width, while counterfeit cables have thinner contacts.
Here are some tips on how to charge your devices safely:
- Use the charger and cable that came with your device. The included accessories are official products and have been tested for safety. Only buy certified options if you didn’t receive these accessories with your new device.
- Cheaper isn’t always better. If you need to buy a replacement, get an official or branded cable over a more affordable alternative.
- Never charge your phone under a blanket or pillow. Devices can get hot when charging, and being covered by a blanket makes it worse, potentially leading to fires.
Need a certified Apple charger? This bundle comes with two, six-foot cables and two USB wall quick-charge travel plugs.
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