Do you seem to have more chargers than devices? Or more devices than chargers? Have you ever used a different charger to the one supplied because it was easier or there didn’t seem to be a difference? Or have you borrowed one that looked like it fitted? If so, you could have been putting your electrical device and yourself in danger. Using the wrong charger can damage your equipment or the charger and if you’re very unlucky it can cause a fire. You are also at risk if you buy a cheap charger that hasn’t passed the relevant safety tests.
If you need a new charger it can be very tempting to buy a cheap one online. The manufacturer’s own website might be retailing what looks to be the same product for ten or twenty times more than the unbranded generic versions that promise to work to the same standards.
However, poor construction and quality control issues can mean that cheap chargers don’t actually do the job they promise. They may not work, or may work slowly. Connectors may be poorly soldered so they fall apart and short circuits might occur internally. And in extreme cases the charger could overheat which could lead to a fire.
So What Goes Wrong?
There are two main variables that affect charging: the voltage the charger can supply and the maximum current the device can draw.
If the voltage supplied by the charger is too low then charging could be intermittent, if it is too high it could damage your phone or the cable through overheating.
If the current rating of the charger is too high your phone will simply not draw as much as is available. However, if the current is too low your phone may try to draw a greater current than the charger can cope with which could result in damage to the charger, overheating, or in extreme circumstances, it could catch fire.
It goes without saying that when you purchase a new charger you should ensure it has a CE mark – as the MEEM cable does – which shows that it meets European safety standards. Extremely cheap chargers, made in the Far East for pennies, have been known to have forged markings – another reason to steer clear of generic chargers. Apple chargers should be labelled “MFI” or “Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad” to ensure that they meet the demands of the devices. And before plugging your phone in, check that the rating of the replacement charger is the same as the one supplied with it.
Above all, if you’re not sure, then simply don’t use it. It may cost you a little more for a better cable, but you’ll save yourself any risk of damage to your phone and to yourself.