Apple's standard charging block is a lot more advanced than you may think

Apple's little, white, rounded rectangle of a wall charger, the one all of us got with our iPhones, may look simple from the outside but internally, it's a lot more advanced than most cell phone or electronics chargers on the market. Ken Shirriff managed to disassemble one and found that there's a lot more than meets the eye.

The iPhone power adapter is a switching power supply, where the input power is switched on and off about 70,000 times a second in order to get the exact output voltage required. Because of their design, switching power supplies are generally compact and efficient and generate little waste heat compared to simpler linear power supplies.

The internals consist of transistors, resistors, diodes, and tons of other little parts paired with two circuit boards that work together to carefully regulate what kind of power is being output via your USB cord. Ken goes on to explain that even though these are quite a bit more advanced than simliar chargers by manufacturers like Samsung, Apple still makes one heck of a profit on them.

I was surprised to realize how enormous Apple's profit margins must be on these chargers. These chargers sell for about $30 (if not counterfeit), but that must be almost all profit. Samsung sells a very similar cube charger for about $6-$10, which I also disassembled (and will write up details later). The Apple charger is higher quality and I estimate has about a dollar's worth of additional components inside.[14] But it sells for $20 more.

Apple issued a recall back in 2008 concerning the wall block and its ability for a prong to come loose and become lodged into a wall outlet accidentally. Tearing an older version apart next to a new one revealed that there were significant design changes made. Apple didn't go for a quick fix to secure the prong but completely redesigned the wall block altogether. This is a great example of how Apple still manages to focus on the little things, even if you can't see them.

Source: Ken Shirriff

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • could of at lease have some screen shots of the inside
  • Click on the source link...
  • Could of at lease pased third grade speling clas.
  • *class. LMAO!!!
  • *could of
  • *speling. LMAOx3
  • At least, not at lease.
    Passed, not pased.
    Spelling, not speling.
  • I read the original article earlier and it is pretty fascinating how many components are packed into that charger. I tend to think of my iPad as a complicated piece of technology but I never really considered the charger as anything more than a way charge the battery.
  • Orange, you're an idiot. You accuse someone of spelling bad when you made more errors in your sentence than his. LOL
  • I believe that was the point Orange was making. sigh
  • lol
  • smh
  • Yeah, Orange was clearly doing it on purpose.
  • It's called 'irony'. Just Google Alanis.
  • Still overpriced in my opinion.
  • It seems no one makes money on Apple products, but Apple. It is amazing how little the seller gets. To make money, carriers sell the plans. Stores hope the products will get you in the door to buy other things. QVC, and HSN sell the iPad, and iPod Touch, but tack on $300.00 of really cheap accessories to make a profit. I am sorry, but even with the high tech the charger is, it is not worth 30 bucks. We all use them, until they wear out, then buy an off brand. One big con about the chargers, the cord. It is not long before it will come loose from the base. I have two that the wire cord has pulled back, exposing the insulation. I never pull the charger out by the cord.
  • If it is an Apple power block, the USB cable is separate from the charger block, Sounds like you have a after market product not an official Apple one... Just saying
  • Clearly orange spelled that way on purpose, genius.
  • ^^ Thank you!!! ^^
    We should applaud all of the sarcastic Captain Obvious' that posted!
  • You no spell the England proper
  • gross consumption levels, and better q  I forwarded an email of another Skunk-Works project.  I am not going to confuse enthusiasm for leadership.  uality, longevity, etc... We just need to remove TJMax, Target, BigK...and be able to act on warranties.
  • Well,, there ya go... ShOt in foot and head
  • Clearly, my reply is skewed but point is:
    A decent product like this is not a stretch but "good" consumerism and half-assed engineering equates to millions of duped buyers and millions of best intentioned
    consumers that still overpay for an EE project that simply lacks VC.
  • Half-assed egineering like prongs that detach? Good consumerism like charging and additional $24 for $1 worth of parts? Yeah, that's awesome.
  • Ally I heart you lol. Anyway I can't believe that much thought is but into a charger plug. Now I wonder what other cellphone plugs look like. Also what the inside of my macbook pro and iPad plug look like.
  • The question that isn't asked is if this additional advancement is needed. I've owned dozens of USB chargers, the only issues I've ever had is losing them. But thank goodness for Apple thinking of our best interest and offering a quality charger with a 500% markup. How thoughtful of them.
    Also gotta love how dedicated Apple is about the prongs. It was some sort of engineering marvel to figure out how to make them as sturdy as pretty much every other plug ever made. Way to earn that 500%!
    When I look at what the iPhone offers compared to the competition recently, I start to think that Apple may be in trouble. Then I read the articles like this and realize they are quite safe for now.
  • The thing that annoys me is that Apple has their chargers somehow coded to only charge their devices, when I can buy a generic one for a couple bucks that will charge my Apple devices and anything else that charges over USB.
  • Why is the picture of something else?
  • Pretty neat post, I learned a few things I didn't realize. I just happen across this site; it's pretty neat. I'm going to have to read some of your other posts.
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