OEM vs. Generic iPhone Chargers
While generic products can be a relief for people on a budget, what’s true for laundry detergent and toilet paper may not be the best option when it comes to electronics. Phone chargers are an especially underappreciated piece of tech until you reach 1% battery, but does it really matter if you have an original OEM charger or a generic, less expensive one that you can find online?
OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. If a part is OEM, that means that it was made by the same manufacturer that made your device. Generic or aftermarket parts are still compatible with devices and are usually much cheaper than OEM, but were made by a different company and could be made with lower-quality parts.
We took 6 OEM iPhone chargers and put them to the test against 6 generic chargers we got online.
We usually use USB ammeters to test chargers and devices when troubleshooting power issues, but in this experiment, we used one to measure the power draw or amperage of each charger.
iPhone chargers are simple AC to DC converters. They take the AC power supply from the wall and convert it to a DC voltage of 5V. Amperage is the measurement of how fast power is being delivered to a device. iPhone and other phone chargers should have 1 amps while tablet chargers typically have 2 amps.
The results of the test were consistent across the board. The OEM chargers all drew around 0.95 amps while the generic ones only drew around 0.5 amps. This is half the amps that the chargers are supposed to be drawing in order to charge a device in a reasonable amount of time.
But what is a reasonable amount of time? We plugged two completely dead iPhones into a generic charger and an OEM charger and timed how long it took them to charge to 100%. After 2 hours and 44 minutes, the phone on the OEM charger was fully charged and the phone on the generic charger was only at 63%.
To compare the insides of the chargers, we wanted to open them up. The shell of the generic charger popped right out with no help from tools exposing the circuits inside. We had to use a Dremel with an abrasive disk to saw the covering off of the OEM. Once we finally cut through it, we found a square inch of hardware with two rigid flex printed circuit boards solidly compacted together. The two circuit boards inside the generic charger, however, were connected by a flex wire and nestled inside the casing.
While the folded-up construction of the generic charger isn’t a hindrance to its performance, it does mean that there is less hardware built in to help with things like safety and regulating power.
Nothing we found in any of the tests indicates that the generic charger will not function as it’s intended. If you decide to use one, you will probably experience longer charge times and it might not last as long as an OEM charger but it’s important to know exactly what you’re sacrificing for the cheaper price.