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Circuits in Apple's iPhone charger are 'surprisingly complex and innovative'

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
A closer look at the wall charger that Apple ships with its iPhone has found that the hardware includes better and safer components than typical chargers.

An exhaustive analysis of the iPhone charger was conducted by Ken Shirriff (via Gizmodo), revealing that Apple utilizes a "surprisingly complex and innovative" circuit to convert AC input between 100 and 240 volts to 5 watts of smooth 5 volt power.

""Apple's power adapter is clearly a high-quality power supply designed to produce carefully filtered power," he wrote. "Apple has obviously gone to extra effort to reduce EMI interference, probably to keep the charger from interfering with the touchscreen.

"When I opened the charger up, I expected to find a standard design, but I've compared the charger to the Samsung charger and several other high-quality industry designs, and Apple goes beyond these designs in several ways."

One of Apple's main concerns with the design of its charger is safety. Shirriff found that Apple employs "super-strong AC prongs," as well as a "complex over-temperature / over-voltage shutdown circuit."

Charger 1


In particular, the strong charger prongs were likely prompted by a recall Apple initiated in 2008 for iPhone 3G USB power adapters. The recall began after Apple found that "certain conditions" could cause the prongs to snap off when the adapter is pulled from a wall outlet, potentially creating a shock for those who might touch an exposed connection.

Shirriff found that Apple's new and improve prongs are considerably more difficult to remove than counterfeit devices and even Samsung's chargers. Apple's prongs refused to budge even when they were pulled using pliers.

"They have large metal flanges embedded in the plastic of the case, so there's no way a prong can come loose short of the destruction of the charter," he said, adding: "I'm impressed with the effort Apple put into making the charger more safe after the recall."

Charger 2


The teardown also found that Apple's charging circuits pack an impressive amount of complexity into a size smaller than one inch. In all, the charger crams most of the components into a printed circuit board that is about the size of a quarter.

Even with superior components and greater safety, Shirriff speculated that Apple's charger is still sold for "almost all profit." Apple's higher-quality parts probably cost the company about a dollar extra, but the charger sells for about $20 more than similar competing options.
post #2 of 51

This is blatant copyright infringement! Samsung should sue over this! All Apple did was change the color of the…

 

Oh, wait.

 

On a more on-topic note, hey, Apple, how about a recall and replacement of the AA chargers you make? The batteries only ever charge to 60-80%.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

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There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

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post #3 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A closer look at the wall charger that Apple ships with its iPhone has found that the hardware includes better and safer components than typical chargers.
 

So, you are saying they should be sued any day now...?

post #4 of 51

WOW, talk about a cutting-edge, innovative company!! They use mustard seeds and rice as charger components. I've heard of an electric sparking pickle and a potato powering a light bulb but grains and seeds regulating hundreds of volts in a power adapter?....who woulda thunk?

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post #5 of 51

That charger circuit board says July 31,08 which if that is the date, this design has been around awhile...and someone finally got around to a teardown? Perhaps Samsung did their own teardown to see what was in there, but decided not to copy it...for whatever reason. I'm sure people around here will offer an opinion on that.

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post #6 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

They use mustard seeds and rice as charger components.

That was an initiative taken in a response to Greenpeace's condemnation of not enough organic components in their circuit boardssmoking.gif

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post #7 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

WOW, talk about a cutting-edge, innovative company!! They use mustard seeds and rice as charger components. I've heard of an electric sparking pickle and a potato powering a light bulb but grains and seeds regulating hundreds of volts in a power adapter?....who woulda thunk?

 

Haven't you heard about Apple's golden master seeds?  Apparently the "surprisingly complex and innovative" charger employs software that Apple has codenamed "Mustard" in the version displayed.  http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/10/04/apple_releases_golden_master_build_of_ios_5_to_developers.html

 

My guess is that the location tracking software Apple uses to develop a crowd-sourced traffic service is embedded in the charger and codenamed "Mustard."  You can see in the quote below that Apple even discusses the "fine grain" control over location services.  Considering Apple uses rice grain this is almost certainly a charger from the Japanese version of the iPhone.  My wife even assured me that the rice in the image is Oryza sativa var. japonica.

"In addition, any application which has used location within the last 24 hours is shown, with an indicator in settings. So a user can know which applications that a user has approved for location, have actually used location recently. We think this is incredibly fine grain and the best out there."

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/04/27/steve_jobs_outlines_apples_efforts_to_clarify_iphone_location_tracking_issue.html


Edited by MacBook Pro - 5/21/12 at 12:19pm
post #8 of 51
I guess that's why they sell them at 500% margins, must be the surprisingly complex and innovative electronics. Pass the mustard please.
post #9 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

That charger circuit board says July 31,08 which if that is the date, this design has been around awhile...and someone finally got around to a teardown? Perhaps Samsung did their own teardown to see what was in there, but decided not to copy it...for whatever reason. I'm sure people around here will offer an opinion on that.

 

 

Slow news day.

post #10 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

WOW, talk about a cutting-edge, innovative company!! They use mustard seeds and rice as charger components. I've heard of an electric sparking pickle and a potato powering a light bulb but grains and seeds regulating hundreds of volts in a power adapter?....who woulda thunk?

*Thumbs Up*

(I can't promote your comment using an iDevice so I am force to create a new reply to do it.)

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post #11 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

On a more on-topic note, hey, Apple, how about a recall and replacement of the AA chargers you make? The batteries only ever charge to 60-80%.

 

I think you will find that all NiMH chargers can only charge to 80% of the capacity of an alkaline cell, mainly because the voltage of an alkaline in 1.5 volts and that of a NiMH cell is 1.2 volts, which is about 80% of the voltage.

post #12 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

WOW, talk about a cutting-edge, innovative company!! They use mustard seeds and rice as charger components. I've heard of an electric sparking pickle and a potato powering a light bulb but grains and seeds regulating hundreds of volts in a power adapter?....who woulda thunk?

Just some leftover lunch from the factory....

post #13 of 51

Why is this news now? Apple already produces figures on efficiency and idle power consumption (0.25W) for the iPhone charger which is ok

http://images.apple.com/environment/reports/docs/iPhone4S_Product_Environmental_Report_2011.pdf

 

and the iPad which is excellent (0.09W idle)

http://images.apple.com/environment/reports/docs/iPad2_Product_Environmental_Report_2012.pdf

post #14 of 51

Sorry... have to do the obligatory "Now wait for Samescam to copy the charger exactly, and say it was just a natural evolution and not copying".

$50 that Samsung will insert a mustard seed onto their circuit board thinking that's what Apple was doing.  :)

post #15 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post

I guess that's why they sell them at 500% margins, must be the surprisingly complex and innovative electronics. Pass the mustard please.

 

You get one free with every iPhone.

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post #16 of 51
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Originally Posted by ScartArt View Post

Why is this news now? Apple already produces figures on efficiency and idle power consumption (0.25W) for the iPhone charger which is ok

http://images.apple.com/environment/reports/docs/iPhone4S_Product_Environmental_Report_2011.pdf

 

and the iPad which is excellent (0.09W idle)

http://images.apple.com/environment/reports/docs/iPad2_Product_Environmental_Report_2012.pdf

 

 

Um, because it's not an article on efficiency and idle power consumption, but rather the result of a tear down someone did revealing unexpected levels of engineering complexity and quality?

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post #17 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by signal View Post


Um, because it's not an article on efficiency and idle power consumption, but rather the result of a tear down someone did revealing unexpected levels of engineering complexity and quality?

So you think that the low idle power consumption and efficiency magically appeared? Or does it make sense that it's due to the complexity and quality of the device?
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post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by efithian@mac.com View Post

 

I think you will find that all NiMH chargers can only charge to 80% of the capacity of an alkaline cell, mainly because the voltage of an alkaline in 1.5 volts and that of a NiMH cell is 1.2 volts, which is about 80% of the voltage.

 

What are you talking about?  What does the nominal voltage of a cell have to do with the cell's capacity?  A charger only charging a cell to 80% of its capacity has nothing to do with the cell's voltage.  Furthermore, a charger designed only for NiMH cells should not be used to charge alkaline cells.

post #19 of 51

Next up - the Apple seed charger (you heard it here first).

post #20 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Even with superior components and greater safety, Shirriff speculated that Apple's charger is still sold for "almost all profit." Apple's higher-quality parts probably cost the company about a dollar extra, but the charger sells for about $20 more than similar competing options.

Because the brains needed to design it were completely free! They didn't even have to make any prototypes, invest in manufacturing processes, nothing! The price Apple pay is always just the cost of the parts, nothing else! They don't even have to spend time testing these things!

On the other hand: No other company spends anything on R&D! The R is observe Apple's successful products, and the D consists of price fixing and avoiding litigation!

/sarc

So um just not all profit for anyone really. We probably pay too much. Noone pays enough though. Otherwise those factories wouldn't be in china now, would they? The devaluing of design into "everything is just made from parts that already exist" is the logic of a fool.
post #21 of 51

I dunno about the 85% claim, but this thread says it's all normal.

post #22 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post
I dunno about the 85% claim, but this thread says it's all normal.

 

For devices earlier than the Magic Trackpad. But that's what I'm using. :I miss you, confused emoticon:


Good to have confirmation of the alkaline calibration point, though.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #23 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by signal View Post

 

You get one free with every iPhone.

 

Yeah you get your mustard free with your iPhone but if you lose it it's hotdog time when buy it from apple then.

post #24 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post
Yeah you get your mustard free with your iPhone but if you lose it it's hotdog time when buy it from apple then.


Your vague and somewhat incorrect analogy is making me hungry for food I don't eat.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post

I dunno about the 85% claim, but this thread says it's all normal.


That thread is referring to the fact that the battery gauges that are calibrated for alkaline cells will indicate less than 100% when using fully charged NiMH cells; this is correct.  However, this has nothing to do with how fully NiMH chargers can charge NiMH cells.  The statement made in the post by efithian@mac.com is incorrect.

post #26 of 51

This is good information, especially if you're buying a second-hand iPhone from ebay.  Some sellers/re-sellers bundle in crappy, third-party chargers, which have been rumored to mess up the battery, or even cause over-heating.

post #27 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

WOW, talk about a cutting-edge, innovative company!! They use mustard seeds and rice as charger components. I've heard of an electric sparking pickle and a potato powering a light bulb but grains and seeds regulating hundreds of volts in a power adapter?....who woulda thunk?

It's not that special really, and still hybrid technology relying on grid connect. They can't get enough watts out of the rice with the internal processing to completely replace the AC, watch for when they go totally fusion and release all of the energy from a single grain of rice, That will be the product to see...

post #28 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

For devices earlier than the Magic Trackpad. But that's what I'm using.

 

I use a Magic Trackpad and the Apple charger with the batteries that came with it, and they always fully charge, it says 100% battery level when I pop in newly charged batteries into the trackpad about once a week.

post #29 of 51
Quote:
Shirriff found that Apple's new and improve prongs are considerably more difficult to remove than counterfeit devices and even Samsung's chargers.

There's a difference? (wink)

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post #30 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by efithian@mac.com View Post

 

I think you will find that all NiMH chargers can only charge to 80% of the capacity of an alkaline cell, mainly because the voltage of an alkaline in 1.5 volts and that of a NiMH cell is 1.2 volts, which is about 80% of the voltage.


FYI Charge quantity  is NOT equal to Voltage.

post #31 of 51

This is precisely why I buy Apple accessory products for my Apple products. Quality & Innovation. Even when Apple isn't pushed to give you more. I bought several of these chargers at $29.95 for the family a while back and they still work well. People at the time these chargers came out, complained it was a ripoff for a simple charger. Well, now we know for sure it wasn't a simple charger. It is a premium design and I'll alway be willing to pay more for premium and innovative Apple products or from any other company with an Apple reputation.

post #32 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimmyDax View Post


Because the brains needed to design it were completely free! They didn't even have to make any prototypes, invest in manufacturing processes, nothing! The price Apple pay is always just the cost of the parts, nothing else! They don't even have to spend time testing these things!
On the other hand: No other company spends anything on R&D! The R is observe Apple's successful products, and the D consists of price fixing and avoiding litigation!
/sarc
So um just not all profit for anyone really. We probably pay too much. Noone pays enough though. Otherwise those factories wouldn't be in china now, would they? The devaluing of design into "everything is just made from parts that already exist" is the logic of a fool.

Wrong reply.  The correct response to someone whining about too high a "markup" is not to suggest that the markup is not as large as suggested.  The correct response is that it's nobody's business but Apple's and the willing buyer's whether the price is fair.

post #33 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Sorry... have to do the obligatory "Now wait for Samescam to copy the charger exactly, and say it was just a natural evolution and not copying".

$50 that Samsung will insert a mustard seed onto their circuit board thinking that's what Apple was doing.  :)

 

Meanwhile Samsung is getting published in Science Magazine for pioneering work on graphene transistors which have 100 times the computing power of today's silicon. But good job on the charger - atta boy Apple.

post #34 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tune View Post

 

Meanwhile Samsung is getting published in Science Magazine for pioneering work on graphene transistors which have 100 times the computing power of today's silicon. But good job on the charger - atta boy Apple.

 

So you're saying that Samsung Electronics could learn a thing or two from their science division instead of copying Apple's stuff??  I totally agree!!

post #35 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

This is blatant copyright infringement! Samsung should sue over this! All Apple did was change the color of the…

 

Oh, wait.

 

On a more on-topic note, hey, Apple, how about a recall and replacement of the AA chargers you make? The batteries only ever charge to 60-80%.

 

I think all AA battery chargers are bad. Do you ever get a full charge.

post #36 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

 

So you're saying that Samsung Electronics could learn a thing or two from their science division instead of copying Apple's stuff??  I totally agree!!

 

I can't believe Apple is still suing Samsung over their Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. I mean do people actually buy those things. Apple owns the market why do they care about a product that's not selling. Especially when Samsung makes so many of the internals for Apple's iProducts. Can't these two just forget about it. I really don't see how anybody could mistake an ugly Samsung tablet  for a iPad anyway, stupid lawsuit, all of them stupid. 

post #37 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by calden View Post

I can't believe Apple is still suing Samsung over their Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. I mean do people actually buy those things. Apple owns the market why do they care about a product that's not selling.

I see. So if a robber breaks into your house and steals your TV, you shouldn't bother prosecuting because you're not using it any more.
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post #38 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post

I guess that's why they sell them at 500% margins, must be the surprisingly complex and innovative electronics. Pass the mustard please.

 

Good to see a consumer bitching about great quality products.

 

We could do with a lot less of these, couldn't we?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

 

I use a Magic Trackpad and the Apple charger with the batteries that came with it, and they always fully charge, it says 100% battery level when I pop in newly charged batteries into the trackpad about once a week.

 

You seriously need to take a screenshot of your old multi-coloured signature and add it to each post.

 

They look so bland these days. ;-)

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post #39 of 51
Great design by a great company.
post #40 of 51

Typo: "destruction of the charter". If you're going to do a copy and paste of someone else's article, get it right. The original article is well worth a read. Apple has a long tradition of better than average power supply design (but sometimes faulty implementation). The original 128K Mac was known for a blue smoke display, followed by the nothing works feature. This was in part because Jobs hated fans, and a small error in soldering (or possibly overheating) could cause a dry solder joint in the flyback transformer that added unbudgeted heat, resulting in further failure.

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