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A Dozen USB Chargers Analyzed; Or: Beware the Knockoffs

When it comes to buying a USB charger one is just as good as another so you might as well buy the cheapest one, right? This interesting and detailed analysis of name brand, off-brand, and counterfeit chargers will have you rethinking that stance.

Ken Shirriff gathered up a dozen USB chargers including official Apple chargers, counterfeit Apple chargers, as well as offerings from Monoprice, Belkin, Motorola, and other companies. After putting them all through a battery of tests he gave them overall rankings based on nine different categories including power stability, power quality, and efficiency.

The take away from his research? Quality varied widely between brands but when sticking with big companies like Apple or HP the chargers were all safe. The counterfeit chargers (like the $2 Apple iPad charger knock-off he tested) proved to be outright dangerous–several actually melted or caught fire in the course of the project.

Hit up the link below for his detailed analysis including power output readings for the dozen chargers.

A Dozen USB Chargers in the Lab [via O’Reilly Radar]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/31/12

Comments (4)

  1. Luis

    It’s hard to notice the counterfeits from the real ones. I’m also wary of replacement laptop chargers, some of the counterfeit ones are known to be quite bad. Great article!

  2. Rob

    While I respect the technical merits of this article it reads like something a bad SEO would produce. Apple, Apple, iPhone, Apple, iPhone, etc.

  3. Andre

    Learned this lesson the hard way. I had to buy several “knock-offs” before finally buying a better charger. All of the cheap chargers registered an error on my phone (Blackberry Bold 9900, so not just an Apple thing). It really is a smart phone, even if I’m not.

  4. john kabbi

    great article.
    if you know what you are doing you can convert any cheap pc power supply into a great charger station.

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