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Buying cheap chargers? It could be damaging your tech

Whether you're charging your mobile, your tablet or your console, you're going to need a cable or lead to do it - and replacing these can get pricey. With every new iteration of the iPhone, the chargers are getting more and more expensive. An Apple branded lightning cable can set you back as much as £29 - but there's so many non-branded options available online that promise the same product at a fraction of the price. But can these cause problems, or are they just cheap and cheerful? We've been investigating what the real cost is of these cheaper chargers, and how it could be damaging your tech.

The main issue with cheaper chargers bought online through sites like eBay, is that they often aren't manufactured in the UK. As such, they aren't held to the same manufacturing standards that charging leads and plugs should be, and although they may work, their performance will likely be far poorer than their more expensive alternatives.

Certified chargers will have a regulator, which provides a suitable amount of power to the device and prevents overcharging, but non-certified chargers probably won't. When you overcharge a device, you decrease it's lifespan - so the battery is going to need replacing a lot sooner than it usually would. Non-certified chargers could also cause power surges, which may damage elements of a device.

With a cheaper charger, you're also going to be looking at a longer charging time. It reportedly takes the average device 5 hours to charge completely with a certified charger, and up to 19 hours with a knock off. Chargers from certified dealers also tested for durability, meaning you can twist it around without much fuss. But counterfeit cables are less likely to go through rigorous testing and are going to break a lot quicker. 

On top of all that, if you end up damaging your iPhone with a non-certified lightning charger, you void the warranty - it won't be Apple picking up the bill. Luckily, if you're using iOS 7 or later, you should get an alert when you plug in something that your device doesn't like.

And that's not even where the risks end with non-certified chargers. In a product test by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, it was discovered that 99%, or 397 out of the 400 chargers tested failed a Basic Safety Test. This means that customers were at risk of electrocution, burns and even house fires as a result of poorly connected and manufactured chargers, some of which had metal pins exposed and live parts. The charity Electrical Safety First tested 50 fake iPhone chargers in the UK and found that 49 of them could give a lethal electric shock. In terms of personal safety, it's definitely worth forking out for a certified product.

One of the easiest ways to tell if you're getting a certified charger is the price. If you're online or in a discount store and you're looking at something less than a fiver, then you're not going to be paying for a quality product. If you're shopping online, make sure that you're purchasing from a brand that you know and trust; Anker, Amazon or Fuse are our picks.

Check the product description for  some sort of certification - 'Apple MFi certified' if you're buying an Apple product, or 'Certified Qi' if you're buying a wireless charger, or at least some kind of warranty from the seller. If you've spent hundreds of pounds on your device, it's probably worth forking out a little more for a charger - it could save you a ton of trouble. 

Check out Business Insider's top picks for Lightning cables and Android cables


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