Only three of 400 counterfeit iPhone chargers, which are available in Australia, passed recent electric strength tests - that's a 99 per cent failure rate. Even worse, 12 of them were designed and made so poorly they "pose a risk of lethal electrocution".
The research comes from UL - a company that tests, inspects, audits and verifies electrical products - basically everything you can do to safety-check them. You may have seen their little stickers on your own charger.
"Some manufacturers produce counterfeit or unauthorised adapters that cut corners on safety to offer a lower-priced item, putting consumer's lives at risk," UL says.
The 400 counterfeit iPhone adapters tested had unauthorised UL certification marks, making it difficult to know the products are not, in fact, safe. They were collected from multiple sources in the United States, Canada, Colombia, China, Thailand and Australia.
UL tested them for both electric strength, touch current and were subjected to a construction review - which found issues with the isolation transformer design in these adapters.
"The internal components proved to be vastly different when compared with a genuine UL Listed Apple adapter," the report says, "Post testing analysis of the tested samples also revealed a lack of triple isolation wire used for the secondary windings, and neither the primary or secondary windings were separated properly, the major reason for the dramatic failure rate on the electric strength test".
So how can you tell if the adapter you have is a safe one? Here are some tips from UL:
- Unusually low price compared with a genuine Apple iPhone adapter
- Spelling or grammatical errors in the printed text on packaging or non-white colors used for the product or packaging all should raise concerns.
- The iPhone power adapter should come with a certification mark such as a UL Mark to indicate that the device has been tested for compliance with applicable safety standards.
"Based on our research, we strongly advise consumers purchase UL certified adapters manufactured by Apple or other legitimate sources to keep themselves and their families safe," said John Drengenberg, Consumer Safety Director.