Counterfeit and fake Apple accessories are everywhere. And while they’re cheap and plentiful, they can actually be a huge problem. Do you know how to spot and avoid fake Apple Accessories?
In 2016, Apple sued a fake accessory retailer called Mobile Star, LLC — and in the text of the lawsuit, Apple revealed that 90 percent of “Apple” power bricks and cables on Amazon were counterfeit.
But what’s the big deal?
The Safety Hazards of Fake Apple Accessories
You’re not just getting a substandard product when you purchase a knockoff charger; you’re actually buying a possible safety hazard.
In their research for the lawsuit, Apple found that the fake chargers were “poorly constructed, with inferior or missing components, flawed design, and inadequate electrical insulation.”
At best, you’ll get poor performance and an accessory that’s not durable — one that doesn’t stand up to routine use. Many fake chargers won’t allow you to sync your iOS devices to a computer, either.
You can even inadvertently damage your iOS device, sometimes irreparably. And at worst, counterfeits can be physically dangerous. Unlike certified or official accessories, they can potentially catch fire or even electrocute users during their use.
How to Spot Fake Apple Accessories
To avoid the safety hazards to your and your device, it’s recommended that you only buy first-party Apple or certified accessories.
But, unless you’re getting your charger or power brick directly from Apple or an Authorized Reseller — or you’re purchasing an Apple-certified device from another outlet — then you’re prone to get a knockoff instead.
If you’re looking at accessories from third-party retailers, or if you already have an accessory you’re not sure about, here’s everything you need to know to figure out if it’s a fake or not.
Your first step should be to expect your accessory’s packaging. Apple’s packaging is pretty distinct, so you shouldn’t have issues there.
But first-party Apple accessories aren’t your only option. There’s a wide range of “MFi” accessories manufactured by third parties that have been vetted by Apple and are specifically meant to work with its products.
These devices and accessories will have one of the following logos on their packaging.
How to Spot Fake Charging Cables for Your Apple Devices
The first clue to a cable’s authenticity is the writing present. Official Apple cables will have “Designed by Apple in California” about seven inches from the USB connector.
Next to this, first-party cables will have either “Assembled in China,” Assembled in Vietnam,” or “Indústria Brasileira” and a 12-digital serial number.
The cable’s components itself are also worth a look. Even if a counterfeit manufacturer has nailed mimicking aspects of authentic cables, the cable’s hardware can be a dead giveaway.
Spotting a fake cable in this way is actually pretty involved, and Apple has an entire support page dedicated to it. But we can boil it down to the following.
- The Lightning connector should be a single piece, smooth and have smooth and rounded contacts.
- The width and length of the “boot” should be consistent.
- The connector’s faceplate should be a gray metallic color.
- USB connector surface should be smooth, consistent, and its shell should be flat.
- USB contacts are gold-plated.
- The surface of the insulator should be uniform and flat.
How to Spot Fake Power Adapters
Spotting a fake power adapter is a bit harder to do than a cable, and Apple doesn’t have a detailed page on it.
Of course, the first thing to look out for is any differences between an official power brick and the counterfeit brick. These should be pretty apparent.
Build and material quality and construction are also factors. You shouldn’t be able to rip off any casing or remove the power prongs by hand.
Perhaps the most telling difference is the text present on the back of the power adapter. Look for typos — which are incredibly common on cheap knockoffs.
Official adapters say “Designed by Apple in California.” If it doesn’t say that, or if it’s not spelled correctly, then it’s a fake. You should double-check the other text present, too.
How to Spot Other Fake Accessories
Similarly, if you have a Lightning to 30-pin or a Lightning to Micro USB adapter lying around, and you think it might be fake, you can review the following.
- All icons should be clear and laser-etched.
- The connection between the adapter body and the actual connector should be flush.