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Apple replacing knock-off chargers after iPhone owner dies

If you're taking your life in your hands by using a third-party charger to power your iPhone, Apple's offering to swap it for a proper one.

If you're taking your life in your hands by using a knock-off charger to power up your iPhone, Apple is offering to swap it for a proper one.

Following a spate of dangerous incidents involving chargers and batteries built by third-party manufacturers to work with the iPhone and other smart phones, Apple is launching the USB Power Adaptor Takeback Programme.

From 16 August, Apple Stores or official Apple partner shops will take a third-party USB charger off your hands and issue you an official charger for $10 or the equivalent amount.

Knock-off gear is especially a problem in China, but the trade-in offer is available in other countries too. It's not clear whether that extends to the UK: the official announcement allows you to choose from the full list of Apple Stores including those in Britain, but when I rang the Apple Store in Covent Garden, staff there hadn't heard anything about the offer.

Chargers have recently become a public menace on a par with totalitarian dictators, tabloid journalists and 1970s TV presenters. Researchers recently used a malicious charger to hack an iPhone in less than a minute, while Samsung Galaxy phones have caught fire in Germany and Dubai. And in China a charging iPhone fatally electrocuted a young bride-to-be. 

A mobile phone and a charger can, like any damaged electrical device, give a shock. Usually they're unlikely to generate a fatal shock of 36V or more, but damaged or dodgy chargers can still be dangerous. You know what they say: buy cheap, pay twice.

Have you ever had problems with knock-off gadgets? Are they a bargain or false economy? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or trade them in at our Facebook page.