iPhone-related death in China could be linked to fake charger

The reported electrocution of an iPhone owner in China last week is now said to stem from the use of a faulty third-party charger.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
Apple's power adapter.
Apple's power adapter. Apple

The death of a 23-year-old Chinese woman last week, who was allegedly electrocuted while answering a call on her iPhone, is now believed to be linked to a third-party USB charger.

Ma Ailun was apparently using a third-party charger with her iPhone 4, instead of one made by Apple. That's according to Xiang Ligang, a phone expert interviewed by CCTV earlier this week (Google translation), who suggested that the charger may have had fewer safety measures built into its hardware, and experienced a failure.

The incident, which is still being investigated by both Apple and local authorities, was originally believed to involve an iPhone 5 -- Apple's latest model. However the device in question was Apple's iPhone 4, which was released in mid-2010, CCTV said.

Third-party chargers are commonplace for electronics, and often come at a steep discount compared to the ones technology companies sell. However, when it comes to the knockoffs -- the ones designed to cosmetically look like the real thing -- consumers can't be certain of their safety

Last October, Googler Ken Shirriff tested a dozen USB chargers -- from the real to the counterfeit -- and found wide gaps in both the quality and safety of those devices. Safety science company UL also issued a warning to consumers and retailersabout counterfeit Apple USB power adapters making the rounds back in March.

CNET has contacted Apple for additional information, and will update this post when we know more.

(via South China Morning Post)