or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › Third-party chargers, Lightning cables reportedly damage iPhone power management IC
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Third-party chargers, Lightning cables reportedly damage iPhone power management IC

post #1 of 66
Thread Starter 
An iOS device repair company in the UK reports third-party charging accessories are causing damage to a critical power management component in Apple's iPhone 5, rendering the handset inoperable.


An iPhone 5 logic board with U2 power management IC circled in blue. | Source: mendmyi


After seeing a rash of iPhone 5 handsets come in with battery charging issues, repair firm mendmyi was able to isolate the problem to unofficial USB adapters and USB-to-Lightning cables, the company reported on its blog earlier this week.

The theory is third-party charging accessories do not properly regulate electrical current flowing into the handset, which either burns out or renders inoperable a power distribution IC labeled "U2." Located just beneath Apple's A6 SoC on the iPhone's logic board, the IC routes power to the battery and integrated charging controller, the sleep/wake button and controls certain USB functions.

Users affected by the issue may see iPhone battery levels remain at one percent while charging, unexpected shutdowns and partial or complete failure to power up when connected to a power source.

It is unclear if the problem is limited to the iPhone 5, but in theory cheap third-party products like USB adapters could potentially damage the sensitive circuitry of any iPhone model as they may not be built to acceptable tolerances and are thus unable to properly regulate voltage and current. As evidenced by Apple's recent recall of European market 5-watt power adapters, even the world's largest tech company runs into problems with manufacturing power regulating accessories.

Apple previously issued a warning to Chinese iPhone users last July asking that they use only official power adapters like those supplied with the device. The notice was issued after two people were electrocuted, one fatally, by iPhones connected to "counterfeit" adapters.

According to mendmyi, damaged U2 ICs can be replaced and the company charges 66 pounds, or roughly $112, for the service.
post #2 of 66
Makes sense to me, my third-party iP5 charger from radio shack was worthless and my phone has all kinds of problems keeping a charge for a long time now.
post #3 of 66

People buy a top of the line phone, then cheap out on the power brick? Come on. Stick with Apple.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #4 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

People buy a top of the line phone, then cheap out on the power brick? Come on. Stick with Apple.

Exactly my thought. Most folks who have cars that require premium gasoline know better than putting in regular, this is the same issue.

post #5 of 66
External devices do not regulate or limit current. They can limit voltage. Current limiting is a function of the receiving device of a charging current.

Unless, of course, the device is so poorly designed that it requires impedance-matched devices to work properly without damage. Hence, apple's warning about incompatible devices.
post #6 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

People buy a top of the line phone, then cheap out on the power brick? Come on. Stick with Apple.


Guilty as charge and learned my lesson.

post #7 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post

External devices do not regulate or limit current. They can limit voltage. Current limiting is a function of the receiving device of a charging current.

 

Nope, chargers should limit current, just like any sort of CV/CC power supply does. Some non-Apple devices which charge at 1 A rely on this. They draw as much current as they can until the charger delivers ~4.6 V. I think the GoPro is an example. If you don't have current limiting, the charger will catch on fire if there's a short.

 

You should also be able to rely on authorized MFi chargers, who are supposed to follow Apple's spec. It's the fake or no-name junk chargers that are a big question.

post #8 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

People buy a top of the line phone, then cheap out on the power brick? Come on. Stick with Apple.


Even worse... idiots complain that Apple's chargers are the same as the $3 chargers they buy from some seedy Chinese vendor on eBay (with free shipping!) and when it electrocutes/kills them, or fries their phone... who do they blame?? Not the crappy vendor, but Apple.

"How dare Apple make their chargers so expensive, that I had no choice but to buy a $3 charger on eBay from some village in an eastern Chinese province?!"  Apple even offered to trade people's crappy chargers with a genuine Apple charger, even they the didn't have to do one single thing!

There's a reason the chargers cost more.  You go cheap, you get what you pay for.

post #9 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

People buy a top of the line phone, then cheap out on the power brick? Come on. Stick with Apple.

The problem is that iPhone (and other devices) are often used in situations where an Apple AC charger can't work or AC power isn't readily available.

 

The most common place would be in motor vehicles, and Apple does not sell their own car charger. They are all third-party accessories.

 

Sometimes USB is required for data or audio transfer (whether it be a hub, stereo amplifier, etc.) and an Apple AC charger cannot be used in place.

 

Because of these multiple scenarios, Apple really needs to make the charging circuitry more flexible and robust within reasonable limits. It is simply unrealistic to expect every iPhone user to only use an Apple AC charger in every situation. There will always be a handful of terrible dirt-cheap chargers that will destroy devices, but one should be confident in using the device with a decent third-party accessory.

 

I happen to stick with spendy Apple chargers and cables, but in vehicles, I rely on several third-party accessories because there is no Apple car charger.

 

Perhaps Apple could write iOS to reject bad power sources when detected, however that won't result in a happier user experience even if it protects the hardware.


Edited by mpantone - 6/19/14 at 6:32pm
post #10 of 66

Apple can't prevent self ingition in a poorly designed charger, but it can control what happens inside the iPhone. Charge regulation for lithium ion batteries always is handled by the devices that contain the batteries.

post #11 of 66

If you need a car charger, don't go for the cheapest one. Get one that says "Made for iPhone", something licensed. Or get a charger with a USB port and use an Apple-made Lightning cable. That's what I do with my iPhone 4 at the moment...inelegant but it works. My old 30-pin 12V cable only works with the iDevices that supported charging with the FireWire pins.

post #12 of 66
I used a Mophie Juice Pack Air and am convinced it caused the same issues described. I had the battery replaced by Apple a couple of days ago.
post #13 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post
 

The most common place would be in motor vehicles, and Apple does not sell their own car charger. They are all third-party accessories.

 

A 12 VDC-5 VDC converter (basically a voltage regulator) is much easier to design than one that runs on wall power and has less (but still some) safety concerns.

post #14 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The theory is third-party charging accessories do not properly regulate electrical current flowing into the handset, which either burns out or renders inoperable a power distribution IC labeled "U2." 

 

U2 burns out? Maybe from the heavy recreational drug use? :smokey:

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #15 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

People buy a top of the line phone, then cheap out on the power brick? Come on. Stick with Apple.

 

I do for wall chargers, but Apple doesn't make a USB charger adapter for 12V DC in vehicles. There are also times when you travel places that offer USB charge stations, like airports terminals. I guess at least carry your own genuine Apple Lightning cable.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #16 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

People buy a top of the line phone, then cheap out on the power brick? Come on. Stick with Apple.

 

Not always a case of a cheap power brick...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post
 

The problem is that iPhone (and other devices) are often used in situations where an Apple AC charger can't work or AC power isn't readily available.

 

The most common place would be in motor vehicles, and Apple does not sell their own car charger. They are all third-party accessories.

 

Sometimes USB is required for data or audio transfer (whether it be a hub, stereo amplifier, etc.) and an Apple AC charger cannot be used in place.

 

Because of these multiple scenarios, Apple really needs to make the charging circuitry more flexible and robust within reasonable limits. It is simply unrealistic to expect every iPhone user to only use an Apple AC charger in every situation. There will always be a handful of terrible dirt-cheap chargers that will destroy devices, but one should be confident in using the device with a decent third-party accessory.

 

I happen to stick with spendy Apple chargers and cables, but in vehicles, I rely on several third-party accessories because there is no Apple car charger.

 

Perhaps Apple could write iOS to reject bad power sources when detected, however that won't result in a happier user experience even if it protects the hardware.

 

Exactly. And it isn't just something that you can choose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post
 

If you need a car charger, don't go for the cheapest one. Get one that says "Made for iPhone", something licensed. Or get a charger with a USB port and use an Apple-made Lightning cable. That's what I do with my iPhone 4 at the moment...inelegant but it works. My old 30-pin 12V cable only works with the iDevices that supported charging with the FireWire pins.

I have always only used Apple cables on my iPhone 5. Only have. But my cars have a USB port built in. No real way around that. 

 

And why is it not an issue for iPod touch users? They don't come with a power brick.

post #17 of 66
Not wanting to spark a flame war, but do Android phone have the same problem? Because this issues with iPhone 5 is well known. Or it happens iPhone 5 power management IC is easier to burn out.
post #18 of 66
Maybe charging $20 for a proprietary cable was a bad idea? I've bought $5 cables that work just as well but die after about a year. For the amount of I-things that I have, I simply can't justify buying that many adapters. Especially when inductive charging is being released this year. (Spoiler alert)

Lemme save 90% of you some time and sa-y whoops, I forgot this is "appleinsider" where you get ignorantly flamed if you don't start with "all hail Apple". For the rest with a brain that provide real feedback from unbiased consumerism, I saved you the trouble and posted what you were thinking.
post #19 of 66

Somebody thinks the universe of their own opinion.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #20 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by starbird73 View Post
 

And why is it not an issue for iPod touch users? They don't come with a power brick.

Yes, the iPod touch's immunity to this problem is rather odd, isn't it?

 

Also, Apple changed the power management IC in the 5s. Perhaps they realized that the iPhone 5 part wasn't that good.

 

I own a iPhone 5s and previously a 4S. It appears that the second iteration of every iPhone generation (basically the "S" model) has better/more reliable internals. We have seen this with CPUs (SoCs), camera modules, antenna design, and now power management ICs.

 

Curious.

post #21 of 66
"starbird73"

. But my cars have a USB port built in. No real way around that. 
[/quote]
I've used Apple licensed car chargers since they came out in several cars for lots of hours and miles and never had a problem. Some "save $ sites' offer cheaper and have a few buds who bought there and had bad times. Pay your money or take your chances.
post #22 of 66
I can personally attest that cheap 3rd-party lightning chargers are at best unreliable, and at worst dangerous. My husband coerced me into trying a few, until I finally put my foot down and went to the Apple store for my $30 6-foot cable. One of the cheap ones automatically caused my iPhone to reset upon insertion, and another didn't work at all. The third cable worked for a while, but the plug connectors looked crooked & fit too tight compared to my Apple one.
post #23 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post
Because of these multiple scenarios, Apple really needs to make the charging circuitry more flexible and robust within reasonable limits.

 

That doesn't sound very profitable.  Besides, flexibility in terms of compatibility isn't something Apple normally caters too.  They prefer their users to stick with only Apple products.  It also makes it easier for them to ensure that everything works just as they intend.

post #24 of 66

£66 ≠ $112

post #25 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post

Yes, the iPod touch's immunity to this problem is rather odd, isn't it?

Also, Apple changed the power management IC in the 5s. Perhaps they realized that the iPhone 5 part wasn't that good.

I own a iPhone 5s and previously a 4S. It appears that the second iteration of every iPhone generation (basically the "S" model) has better/more reliable internals. We have seen this with CPUs (SoCs), camera modules, antenna design, and now power management ICs.

Curious.

And I am on the non S cycle. Hmm...
Quote:
Originally Posted by pacificfilm View Post

"starbird73"

. But my cars have a USB port built in. No real way around that. 
I've used Apple licensed car chargers since they came out in several cars for lots of hours and miles and never had a problem. Some "save $ sites' offer cheaper and have a few buds who bought there and had bad times. Pay your money or take your chances.[/quote]

I am talking built into our Honda's. Not something plugged into the lighter.
post #26 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post
 

The problem is that iPhone (and other devices) are often used in situations where an Apple AC charger can't work or AC power isn't readily available.

 

The most common place would be in motor vehicles, and Apple does not sell their own car charger. They are all third-party accessories.

 

I agree 100% with your entire post.

 

I will also add that some of us will have chargers from prior hardware, and rather than contribute them to a landfill and buy replacements from Apple, we choose to try to re-use and avoid unnecessary waste. We reasonably expect our hardware to work and are not always trying to "cheap out".  All we need are adapters... and have no reason to suspect that the Apple brand adapter is better than a generic adapter. Until we do. Just like we don't expect a generic alkaline AA battery is necessarily better than one by duracell.

post #27 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post
 

If you need a car charger, don't go for the cheapest one. Get one that says "Made for iPhone", something licensed. Or get a charger with a USB port and use an Apple-made Lightning cable. That's what I do with my iPhone 4 at the moment...inelegant but it works. My old 30-pin 12V cable only works with the iDevices that supported charging with the FireWire pins.

 

So I'm supposed to BELIEVE IT when the seller says "Made for iPhone", and assume other products without those words are not going to work? I'm not that gullible.  There is NO ONE selling a usb-to-lightning adapter who intends it to be used for a non-Apple device. Regardless of the magic words you quote. Because there is NO ONE with non-Apple hardware who has any use for a lightning adapter.

 

So your advice about the statement "Made for iPhone" is complete nonsense. All that's left is your urging that one should not buy the "cheapest" product among those being sold.  Nothing stops a shady manufacturer from putting a big price on a piece of crap.  So that advice is nonsense too.

post #28 of 66
Yes, don't by the cheapest chargers, but still, it would be nice if Apple's power management could be more accommodating. Apple doesn't make its own multi-port USB chargers etc.; at least give us a warning on screen if a charger isn't putting out the right juice.
Edited by cMka~+ - 6/19/14 at 8:16pm
post #29 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

So I'm supposed to BELIEVE IT when the seller says "Made for iPhone", and assume other products without those words are not going to work? I'm not that gullible.  There is NO ONE selling a usb-to-lightning adapter who intends it to be used for a non-Apple device. Regardless of the magic words you quote. Because there is NO ONE with non-Apple hardware who has any use for a lightning adapter.

So your advice about the statement "Made for iPhone" is complete nonsense. All that's left is your urging that one should not buy the "cheapest" product among those being sold.  Nothing stops a shady manufacturer from putting a big price on a piece of crap.  So that advice is nonsense too.

If the seller is "Bobz Cheep Chargers" then don't buy it. If it's from Belkin or a reputable brand, then it is fine. Use some common sense and good judgment.
post #30 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by pacificfilm View Post
I've used Apple licensed car chargers since they came out in several cars for lots of hours and miles and never had a problem. Some "save $ sites' offer cheaper and have a few buds who bought there and had bad times. Pay your money or take your chances.

Thank you, Carl Icahn.

post #31 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by starbird73 View Post

And I am on the non S cycle. Hmm...

Well, the old adage is to never buy the _.0 cycle. Hardware, software, whatever. Even new model automobiles. 

 

Let's just look at the iPhone 4 and 4S for a quick moment. iPhone 4 had a single core processor, Retina display and notably "Antennagate." The iPhone 4S has a dual-core processor, a refined antenna (even after Apple publicly declared there was nothing inherently wrong with the iPhone 4 antenna design then issuing free bumpers for a while), and a way better camera module.

 

Now the iPhone 5. Larger screen, Lightning connector. The iPhone 5S gets the 64-bit SoC, M7 motion co-processor, TrueTone camera flash, and Touch ID.

 

I am personally convinced that I am on the better two-year cycle by opting for the "S" models. iPhones in my neck of the woods are a dime a dozen, and impressing the person sitting next to meet at the bar holds zero interest. My "S" model iPhones look the same the previous hot new model, but the guts are far better. Nobody asks me about my "S" model devices which is fine. It's just a phone after all.

 

Notably, peripherals and cases with a new physical design cost a premium with fewer initial choices. A year later? Not so much, plentiful cheaper options.


Edited by mpantone - 6/19/14 at 8:26pm
post #32 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

If the seller is "Bobz Cheep Chargers" then don't buy it. If it's from Belkin or a reputable brand, then it is fine. Use some common sense and good judgment.

I agree that reputation is a reasonable criterion for buying decisions.  

That's what eBay feedback is all about.  

Common sense & good judgement: YMMV.

post #33 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post
 

 

So I'm supposed to BELIEVE IT when the seller says "Made for iPhone", and assume other products without those words are not going to work? I'm not that gullible. 

 

Are you really completely unaware of Apple's Made for iPhone trademark licensing program?

https://developer.apple.com/programs/mfi/

 

So you're saying when I buy an electrical appliance I shouldn't look for the UL logo, since non-UL listed products are perfectly capable of not burning my house down? So therefore the UL logo is a scam.

post #34 of 66
I have an iPhone 5 and suffer from unexpected shutdowns, I.e. All tbies fine until about 40% charge. Then the charge level drops within short time in steps to say 27%, 21%, 16 etc. Or just shuts down ubexpextedly. Upon plugging into the charger it immediately stars up again, showing about 30% level.

Could this be relatd to a damage of that chip?

I travel a lot and mostly use my 12V charger in the car plugged into the lighter.

As I read the article te issue may have been caused by the charger.

I also read to "at least" use an original lightning cable. Which I do. How would this protect the device from current or voltage in rush?
Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, my opinion, man.
Reply
Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, my opinion, man.
Reply
post #35 of 66
Does Apple make a car charger? I tell ya, I was considering looking at one of the larger iPhones coming out this year, but now don't want to. I use my device in the car for navigation and media play and need it plugged into power. Can't do that with an Apple product...might harm it.
post #36 of 66
The title is talking about chargers and cables, not car chargers or plugging into laptops, or dashboard USB ports. They are already putting out DC. The combined AC/DC is the problem I think. Those tiny chargers converting AC to DC puts out a lot of heat in a confined space. We all know how the corners cut with the Chinese knockoffs and the dismal quality they have.

Auto chargers aren't a problem. It's a 12v DC system going down to 5vdc, if it even does.
Laptops aren't a problem. Most use an external AC adapter which will fry first or fry the laptop before it takes the phone with it.
Same with the other stuff.
post #37 of 66
Apple Store is selling car-charges!
post #38 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

U2 burns out? Maybe from the heavy recreational drug use? 1smoking.gif

"Bono fide statement"
Quote:
Originally Posted by AjbDtc826 View Post

I've bought $5 cables that work just as well but die after about a year.

Do you still buy them after they've proven to be rubbish?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moreck View Post

My husband coerced me into ...

That seems...strong. Was he "super-charged"¿
post #39 of 66
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post
External devices do not regulate or limit current. They can limit voltage. Current limiting is a function of the receiving device of a charging current.

 

My electricity supply is 240 Volts with 13 amp of alternating current.

 

So you think an iPhone, a small electronic device with small power requirements, should handle the same energy in a 13 amp current which an electric cooker uses to cook, a washing machine uses to spin a drum or an electric car stores to drive around town?

 

Or could be the phone charging adaptor which regulates what gets to the iPhone?

post #40 of 66
MFi is no guarantee of quality. I had a MFi licensed car charger and while plugging it in one day, it fried my phone to the point where it would no longer power on. Thankfully, Apple replaced it for me. I thought that maybe I got a bad one and the manufacturer replaced it for me. A few months later the thing literally falls apart inside my 12V outlet causing the fuse to blow. I've since gone with a charger with a USB port and an Apple Lightning cable.
Edited by hardcle - 6/20/14 at 2:29am
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: iPhone
  • Third-party chargers, Lightning cables reportedly damage iPhone power management IC
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › Third-party chargers, Lightning cables reportedly damage iPhone power management IC