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Your Smartphone Charger Can Kill You

Buying a cheap charger from a shady retailer can wreak havoc on your devices - and even kill you! Tech Talker explains how to avoid charging fiascos. 

By
Eric Escobar,
September 12, 2013
Episode #092

Page 1 of 2

Mobile devices have exploded in number and variety in the past decade and so have all the various ways they are charged. Many of us are caught juggling multiple chargers between work, home, and car in order to keep our devices powered up. In this week's episode I'll be covering some do's and don'ts of gadget chargers.

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The idea for this episode was sparked by a recent story of a Chinese woman who was electrocuted by her iPhone 4. This obviously made for some pretty incredible-sounding headlines, but the reality wasn't quite as fantastic as it was first made out to be. As the story unfolded, it turned out that the woman wasn't using an official Apple charger for the device, but rather a charger made by a third party (not Apple). However, Apple released a statement that they would replace any third party charger with an official Apple charger for just $10 for a limited time (the normal retail price of an Apple charger is $30).

Let's consider the mobile devices you may use in your everyday life: smartphone, tablet, e-reader, laptop, smartwatch, Bluetooth headset. All of these devices require recharging and, at some point in their life, you may have lost or damaged the charging cord. Or maybe you just want an extra to keep at work. Here are some of the things to keep in mind when you're shopping for chargers:

USB Charger

If your device uses USB to charge, you're in luck because almost everything that accepts a USB plug falls into the same range of a 5v charge with anywhere between .5 and 2.1 amps. Some USB chargeable devices require more juice - one example is the iPad which requires the full 2.1 amps - while others require only 1 amp (like most smartphones).

I don't want to delve too deeply into the technicalities of voltage and current, so here's an easy way to think about it: If electricity were water, voltage would be how much pressure the water is under while moving through a pipe and amps would be how much water is actually flowing through the pipe. So the more amps you're pushing into your device, the faster it will charge. What's great is that most devices nowadays are so smart that they can regulate how much they charge and will keep it at an appropriate rate. So when I plug my iPhone into a 2.1amp charger, it is still charging at 1 amp because the phone itself will regulate it.

So, in short, if you have a USB cable that will fit in multiple devices, such as a USB micro adapter, then you can use it across all of your devices. This is pretty handy because that means you can use one charger for multiple gadgets.

Next let's talk about wall plugs....

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