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Are third party chargers harmful to Apple devices?

No, third-party chargers aren’t harmful to Apple devices. At least, not always. However, there are certain conditions you should be aware of before plugging in your device to any non-apple approved charger.

For one, quality plays a huge part. If the charger or any non-apple cable doesn't match the quality of Apple accessories, then, indeed, it can cause some damage to your precious device. To understand what’s safe for Apple devices and what’s not, you should be aware of what certain terms mean and exactly what makes certain charging cables safer over others.

As of now, UL listed chargers are considered safe when it comes to any Apple device. USB-IF certified connectors are also not likely to cause any harm to Apple devices. In the case of wireless chargers, Qi-certified chargers are considered safe.

For charging cables, MFi lighting cable and USB-C cables have been given the go-ahead.

However, what do all these certifications mean? Let’s find out. But before that, let’s also take a look at why only the right charging cable should be used for your Apple devices, and why quality matters.

The Importance of Finding the Right Charging Cable for Your Apple Products

When it comes to Apple devices, there are quite a lot of myths about how Apple products should only be used and linked to other Apple products. At this point, people steer away from buying any Apple product for fear of having to buy all the related Apple accessories. Yet, the truth is, as long as you make the right choices, you are safe.

Exploding Devices

These cases have been really few and far in between. However, there are stories of someone's Apple device bursting while it was plugged into the charging cable that wasn’t manufactured by Apple. This isn’t because the cable wasn’t released by Apple, but because the charger the person used was a knock off one instead of one that has been made for Apple devices and is of good quality.

Damaged Device

Your device isn’t only at the risk of exploding. Sometimes, devices can get damaged, like a continuously hanging phone, problems with sound quality or picture quality. If you were to ask the question, can cheap chargers damage the phone? The answer is unfortunately yes. There’s a huge chance the internal circuitry doesn’t come with appropriate safety measures to make sure no damage is sustained. 

If your charging cable is from a good brand and comes with the guarantee that it is made for Apple products, your device is most definitely safe.

Exploding Charger or Cable

It’s not always your Apple product that is in danger of bursting. Apple products are made with special and specific standards and any device that does not match that can lead to overheating when connected to it. While in some ways the charger or charging cable should explode rather than your iPhone, it is still not an ideal situation.

Your charger is still capable of bursting and it is capable of causing damage to things around it. So, altogether, you should avoid using cheap chargers for any Apple items.

Fire Hazard

A damaged cable is a fire hazard. And if you are not using the right charging cable, if you are using cheap knock-offs, it is likely to get frayed faster. In a way, by getting the right product, you aren’t just saving your Apple products from damage, but saving your home as well.

What Chargers are Safe for Apple Products?

We’ve already established that the answer to - will using a different charger ruin my phone  question is a no. We just need to dig deeper into which chargers make the cut. Let’s take a look.

UL Listed Chargers

Anything that’s UL listed should be safe enough to use for your Apple products. Now, what does being UL listed mean for a device?

It basically means the product checks all the standard safety boxes. The term UL itself stands for Underwriters Laboratories. This is a non-profit organization working independently and is recognized throughout the world. When it comes to getting safety certifications for independent products, this is the organization everyone relies on. Millions of products are tested here, including genuine Apple chargers.

If you find a charger that’s UL listed, you can be certain the product has been through rigorous tests. UL has some strict standards, and any product that meets those standards is safe for use, whether on Apple devices or other electronic products. The best thing about the certification is the UL also has a certification directory online where one can check if the product is truly listed or not.

Also, remember the charger has to be Ul listed and not UL classified. UL classified product means the products meet approval under certain conditions. UL listed means it has passed all tests with flying colors and therefore, is safe all around.

USB-IF Certified Chargers

It’s highly unlikely that you have no idea what USB means, but let’s assume you don’t. It stands for Universal Serial Bus. These types of connectors connect one device to another or sometimes store data in the device itself and let other devices access the data by connecting to it. As there are many varieties in USB, the USB Implementers Forum was eventually introduced, called USB-IF. Now, the forum has over 700 companies as members, including Apple.

This group is responsible for setting the standards that all USB technologies have to adhere to especially those of supposedly high quality. They have different categories to sort the devices, depending on the transfer speed, connector type, and the delivery of power.

Essentially, devices with USB-IF certification are sure to have fast data transferability and fast charging. There is no doubting the safety and reliability of these products. Look for the USB-IF logo in any cable. The logo is two red and blue arrow signs running parallel to each other with USB written in between. If you find this logo, you can be certain your devices are in safe hands.

Qi Certified Chargers

Qi-certified chargers are a little different from other chargers in the sense these are the only ones on the list without any connector. This is the certification you should look for when your aim is to get a wireless charger for your Apple devices.

The word Qi has pronounced Chi in. It is the standard a top product should maintain when it involves the transmission of energy in the wireless product’s scenario. The rules and regulations for this are set by Wireless Power Consortium (WPC). And, very much like how USB and Bluetooth devices are supposed to follow a set of standards areas, WPC aims to set its own standards for wireless products to make sure safety and security standards are maintained.

If a charger is Qi certified, you can be sure WPC has tested how compatible the charger is with other devices, how fast it is, and most importantly, how safe it is. Temperature tests have to be passed as well, and the devices have an operational limit of 0 to 30 watts. All other Qi-certified devices should be compatible with the product being tested.

After all this testing, it has been proven that they are quite compatible with Apple devices.  

What Charging Cables Are Safe For Apple Products?

Most top-rated charging cables are safe for Apple products. From USB-C to lightning cable, the options are many. However, we will focus on these two, as we can be assured of complete safety with them.

USB-C Cables

These are none other than USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) that has hands in developing the USB-C connector.  As such, the standards for transmission of data and power through a single cable are set by this connector.

How do you recognize a USB-C connector? Well, for one, they look quite similar to micro USB connectors. However, the build is thicker and it has a more oval shape.

However, the best feature of USB-C is that there is no right way of plugging it in. There is no up and down. You just have to line up the connector to the device and it should connect smoothly. Unlike the USB products before type C, there is no instruction to follow.

For the standard USB-C cable, both ends have the same connectors. You don’t have to worry about what part has to be connected to the charger head vis-a-vis the phone.

USB-C ports are also becoming a standard on modern devices, and Apple loves them. So you never have to worry about your Apple device not having a USB-C port.

MFi Lighting Cables

If you still have any reservations about using non-apple products, you can always opt for Apple MFi certified products. There is no certification system that has more approval from Apple than MFi. You don't need to worry the slightest bit with MFi lighting cables.

MFi, which actually stands for Made For iPod, is a result of the MFi program that took place way back in 2005. Back then, the goal was to make the iPod compatible with other chargers and accessories, as the connectors for iPods were a heavy 30-pin.

For other companies to be able to advertise their products that were compatible with the iPod, they had to first put their products through the compliance test for Apple. On approval of which the MFi certification was handed over.

Several aspects were checked in these tests, from jack controls for headphones to durability, and whether the products were compatible with other Apple accessories. Most of all, the manufacturers going to get the certification also had to pay Apple royalties. So, if they wanted Apple’s approval, they really had to produce the best products. 

Today, there isn’t much difference in the certification process. Manufacturers put their products through rigorous Apple special tests and pay a hefty fee to Apple. In return, they get Made For iPhone carved on their lighting cables in the product package. 

Here’s the thing though. Almost any manufacturer can slap Made For iPhone in their packaging. How do you know it's legitimate? Well, for one, the inside of the lightning connector comes with an authentication chip, a tiny one. If you ever have any doubts as to the authenticity of your product, whether it’s truly MFi certified, this chip should clear away those doubts.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of third party chargers that pose no harm to Apple devices. Using non-apple cables won’t suddenly set your iPad or iPhone on fire. However, it is important that you check the certifications for any product you buy and are willing to pay a little more than you would for regular chargers and cables. You should also verify that the certifications are legitimate and you aren’t buying a counterfeit item.

The extra cost is reasonable when you think about the cost that replacing a damaged Apple product would entail. Of course, if you are a student, it might be harder for you to justify even that bit of extra spending, but the dangers of using third party chargers that aren’t properly certified are much scarier. Also, if you think about it, you still have to pay less for any certified accessory for Apple products compared to what you have to pay for those released by Apple itself.

Well, we hope you find the accessory you are looking for. Before you buy it, check and recheck to make sure you are walking away with the right product. It would be a shame to pay extra only to get duped by a manufacturer who is too good at making cheap copies.