/ Shopping, Technology

Fake iPhone chargers spark concerns

Fake iPhone charger

Have you ever bought an iPhone charger? How confident are you that it’s genuine? Counterfeit phone chargers are a real issue and can put you and others at risk.

Genuine iPhone chargers cost upwards of £15 on the Apple store, but a quick search online and you’re faced with chargers ranging in price from 99p right through to £20. It may be tempting to go for one of the more budget options, but in our hunt for a bargain do we consider the dangers of plugging a fake device into the mains?

After a number of incidents involving imitation chargers – ranging from scorched charger casing to house fires – the London Fire Brigade (LFB) has warned that buying a fake device could be a risky decision. The LFB put some widely available counterfeits to the test, and found real and dangerous differences between these and genuine chargers.

Dangerous discounted devices

The standard of the fakes varied immensely, but on average they contained less than half the components in their circuitry compared to their genuine counterparts. There were other concerns too – flammable casing, irregular pins and upside-down USB sockets could all cause dangerous issues for the user. Plus, you have no guarantee that a fake has undergone any of the safety checks that Apple will put its chargers through.

Fire investigator Andrew Vaughan-Davies said:

‘I was shocked at how potentially dangerous these chargers are. There have been some near misses in the last few months and, unless people stop buying them, it’s only a matter of time before we are called to a fatal fire.

‘For the sake of saving a few pounds is it worth putting the lives of your family at risk and taking the chance of potentially destroying your home?’

Spotting a fake phone charger

There are some tell-tale signs that identify the counterfeit charges, such as its weight, the position and colour of the writing on the base, and the finish and uniformity of the pins. One example even had the word safety misspelled on it – definitely a warning sign!

However, these identifying factors only become obvious once the device is in your hands. So, make sure you buy your chargers from a reputable seller – read our advice on how to find websites that only sell genuine products. We also have more advice on how to spot a fake iPhone charger on our sister site Which? Tech Daily.

Have you ever been tempted by a counterfeit iPhone charger, and have you had any issues with it? Do you feel confident that you could spot a fake?


Information about recalled chargers and adaptors can be found on the Electrical Safety First website, which is very easy to use: http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

This is unlikely to help anyone who has bought cheap unbranded products online from Amazon, eBay or other sources or from a market stall. The fact that a product is marked CE does not mean it meets the appropriate standards and is safe.

Counterfeit and sub-standard electrical goods can kill, and dangerous chargers are one of the biggest problems we face.

If an Amazon Marketplace seller sells a fake charger, is Amazon partly responsible for any fire damage it causes since they allowed it to be listed?

That’s a very good question that needs to be answered, Wev. Last year I bought an electrical item from an Amazon Marketplace trader. Neither Amazon or the trader was interested when I expressed my concerns about a safety issue, and the product is still on sale, well over a year later.

There’s a recent Conversation that describes how ordering a travel adaptor from the Amazon website can result in supply of different products from what was advertised, partly because of a poor product description provided by Amazon: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/counterfeit-electricals-plugs-travel-adaptors-amazon-marketplace-ebay/

This isn’t just a matter of inconvenience because using the wrong adaptor can be dangerous. Amazon seems to be using its well known name to encourage us to buy from companies we have never heard of and might not trust. I do not know if Amazon is legally responsible for what is on its website or the conduct of Marketplace traders, but it certainly should be.

An iPhone can be charged from any mains adapter with USB output, of course – if you want a replacement charger and don’t want to pay Apple full price it might be safer to buy an ordinary USB charger from a reputable supplier rather than shop around for an ‘Apple’ one that might be dodgy.

I did a survey for Which about Amazon probably five months ago but have not seen any results as yet. They are a linked seller [ or were] for a number of Which? tested and recommended goods back in the summer.

You are quite right wavechange that we need some clarity about facilitating the sale of bogus and even potentially fatal goods.

Jonathan White says:
11 January 2015

Please take note of this advice, I am looking here now after waking up to find my charger blew up during the night next to my bed fortunately not resulting in a fire but only just. Reading this now it has all the signs of a fake. Please don’t risk it – I was lucky this time and am now replacing ALL my non original chargers.

It is best to use chargers away from anything that is likely to catch fire if they fail, and to have a smoke detector nearby. I switch off chargers before going to bed or leaving the house.

Here is a new campaign by Electrical Safety First to alert us to the danger that a dodgy phone charger could wreck your phone:


That’s a different approach to the boring old message that dodgy phone chargers could burn the house down or electrocute us.

please can we have a debate on the absolute appalling iPhone chargers which whether they are original parts or not do not last more than a month due to their poor design. i must have purchase at least 10 over the past six months and none of them last. are which prepared to take this up with apple to an extent where free replacement chargers are issued until they rectify the problem