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Under the hood of Apple's iPhone, iPad charger

One tech blogger took it upon himself to completely dismantle Apple's iPhone and iPad charging brick to see why it costs what it costs and how it's so darn small.

This is what goes into Apple's $29 wall-charging unit. Ken Shirriff

No, it's not the first thing people gravitate toward when tearing open their brand-new iPhone or iPad. Heck, it's probably not even the second or third thing (the USB cable and the Apple sticker are more popular I'm sure).

But, hidden deep within that pretty box is a cube that makes the whole thing work. It's an AC wall-charging unit, and it's as technically impressive as any other component in that box.

Ken Shirriff, a technology buff and blogger, has a complete teardown of Apple's tiny technical wonder on his blog, detailing (exhaustively, I might add) why exactly Apple can charge $29 for it.

The details are fascinating if you have a mind for tech speak and electronics, but the basic summation of what Shirriff found is that Apple has gone through an immense amount of effort to create a safe, effective, and, yes, beautiful wall charger for its products.

When Shirriff compared Apple's charger with other high-quality products like Samsung's wall unit, Apple's design far exceeded the competition.

"Apple's design provides extra safety in a few ways...the superstrong AC prongs, and the complex over-temperature/over-voltage shutdown circuit," he writes. "Apple's isolation distance between primary and secondary appears to go beyond the regulations."


Shirriff's eventual conclusion was that while Apple's charger is hands down the best on the market, it may actually be unnecessarily good -- meaning that the extreme quality adds to the price point, but is overkill in terms of what is needed for the devices it powers.

Whether it is the "Apple tax" at work, or just one company's need to create the best product, there is no doubt that your little iPhone charger is a quality product, not likely to be matched by third-party charging devices.