Why Are Apple's USB Chargers Are So Expensive?

Created by will on May 13, 2014, 11:29 a.m. Last post by AtomicEdge 3 years, 10 months ago.

You probably don't think too much about power bricks, but you probably should. After digging deep into a wide variety of power bricks, Ken Shirriff wanted to see why Apple's 10W iPad charger costs $20 when there are counterfeits that are widely available for around $3. The result is worth reading, but Ken's evidence indicates that not only will the official brick charge your devices faster, the counterfeit he opened up is downright dangerous. (Thanks to @SolrFlare for the tip.)

  • 2 years old but probably still true. I think the (under load) efficiency must be much more important and not because of the price but because of the wasted energy and so the unnecessary & irreversible environment pollution of it (think about billions of chargers). The PC PSUs had this 80 Plus rating system from the 80 Plus (80%) to 80 Plus Titanium (90-96%), is there a similar one for USB chargers maybe? (or even can exist a USB charger with such a high efficiency?)

  • I enjoyed reading it and the breakdown of components but the results are as I expected. If anything, I was surprised how dangerous counterfit ones really are and will keep that in mind in the future, although I don't really every buy counterfit products to begin with.

    I think it is important to note that the ecosystem of hardware and software is almost ALWAYS best when using the appropriate products. This is slightly the reason I had so much much difficulty with first generation Android phones. When you have separate companies producing the software and hardware, it doesn't always mix well. It also causes Android hardware manufacturers to "boost" the specs so they can maintain usability with software updates. Luckily, the product and software mesh for Android has gotten much better since the beginning.

    Apple is one of the few companies that successfully makes decent hardware AND software and they use it to their advantage. I know that they don't actually produce all the parts for the hardware, but they pick them to fit their enviroment very well. This tends to take away a lot of variables and lead to a better user experience (or just a smaller chance of things going haywire, depending on how you look at it).

    It is one of the main reasons why when people ask for phone suggestions I point them in the direction of the iPhone or the Nexus instead of a mixed ecosystem.

  • Doesn't change the fact that I'm never going to spend $20 on a charging brick.

  • Those counterfeit units have killed two people this year. I wouldn't be surprised if there are more unconfirmed cases. Definitely the "apple tax" on those....But over time, you accumulate them or can get extras for free.

  • The real solution is just to treat your hardware with care so you don't kill the charger that comes with the device. Unfortunately, most people just wrap cords as hard as they can or yank them out and then the wires start to fray and they stop working.

  • Holy crap, that's the mother of all teardowns. Detail, or what?

    I was bowled over when the pic of the counterfeit's bare controller chip came up.

  • The cost of Lightning cables really pushed me away from iPhone, and I am looking to move to Android as soon as I decide on a handset.

    I actually purchased 5 micro USB, and 3 "Wall warts" for less than £10 for my Nexus 7, and they all work perfectly well.

    I am actually considering getting a bunch of Qi chargers and a Nexus 5. I had a parts manufacturer contact me at work (I work in IT) with Qi chargers for £9.99 each. For that I could have one in every place I put my phone down (Desk at work, Work bench at work, Desk at home, Night stand and kitchen) and never have a low battery again!

  • @AtomicEdge: I think the real issue here is the amount you use your phone, not the amount of chargers. Not sure what you do in IT though, so I won't judge.

  • @projectfinale: Most of my use at work is e-mails, support calls, user account control and Microsoft Lync. I think Lync is pretty awful for battery life.