Demonstration: a dubious USB-C cable and a cheap charger can permanently destroy your iPhone

Estimated read time 3 min read

Demonstration: a dubious USB-C cable and a cheap charger can permanently destroy your iPhone

Some behaviors border on nonsense. For example, I have seen countless people spend hundreds of euros on a smartphone, and then connect this overpriced device with ultra-cheap cables and chargers, bought in stores for one euro or on a dubious website.

As someone who tests many cables and chargers, I know that there are a lot of rotten accessories on the market. Products that I wouldn’t want to connect to my iPhone.

But there is a flip side to the coin: the charging and battery management systems integrated into modern devices are so powerful that they can still be safely plugged into these detestable accessories. They can recharge slowly, if at all, but it is surprisingly difficult to explode a smartphone or tablet, produce sparks or make them catch fire.

A photo is better than a thousand words

I know this because I tried to do it. In fact, I try very often. The most common problems I encounter are chargers that don’t work properly and cables whose connectors come off easily.

But things can go wrong, as one Reddit user found out at his expense.

NoisilyMarvellous came back to see his iPhone 15 Pro Max which had been left charging to discover that the cable had “melted some of the plastic, left burn marks on the body of the device, and stuck the metal part of the USB-C port in the smartphone”. By removing the charred remains of the cable, they discovered that “the entire interior (of the smartphone) was blackened and, above all, that it no longer charges with a charging cable”.

The iPhone was usually recharged using a “travel adapter and a USB-C cable from Amazon” and, according to the user, the cable was “long (for convenience)”.

Charred remains of a USB-C charging cable.

Charred remains of a USB-C charging cable. NoisilyMarvellous/Reddit

Trust the brands!

Okay, I’ve only seen a photo of the consequences, but it seems to me that the root cause is a damaged cable at the connector, where bending and bending caused a short circuit and overheating. A charger worthy of the name should detect this kind of problem and stop sending power along the cable. But lower-quality chargers, with fewer safety features, can continue to send energy, which leads to overheating.

But again, I want to emphasize that this is an exceptionally rare set of circumstances. This is a case where a bad charger and a damaged cable have combined in the right – or the wrong – way to cause damage.

Of course, if you want to opt for cheaper and more affordable chargers and cables, I advise you to choose quality products from companies such as Anker and Ugreen, and avoid cheap products without a brand name (generic).

A cable too long? That’s not true!

I saw in the comments a few people saying that the problem came from a cable that was too long.

That’s not true.

I regularly use USB-C-to-USB-C cables with a length of 30 cm that can support up to 240 W of power without any problems.

One last tip for the road: if you notice that a cable or charger is damaged or that something is overheating, stop using the equipment immediately.

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