I. Introduction

The Apple 18W USB-C charger was originally shipped with 2018 iPad Pro. It became available to purchase separately from the Apple Store on Dec 5, 2018 for US$29. We have torn it down previously. You can read our report through this link: Apple 18W USB-C Charger Teardown

The Apple 18W USB-C charger supports USB Power Delivery protocol. It is favored by many iPhone users to fast charge their iPhones due to its compact and light body. Some factories see the opportunity and start to make fake ones. There are different versions of fake “Apple” 18W USB chargers on the market.

Today we will tear down a “regular version” to see if the internal quality is on par with Apple product?

The exterior looks very close to the Apple genuine product. No specifications or S/N is printed on body as this is still a sample. I guess those “masters” are still perfecting the font prints to match the Apple product.

The panel has a light gray color.
If we look closely to the panel. It is not hard to find out the build quality is not that great. The gap between the panel and body is pretty big.

Close-up of USB-C socket. The two ends of the inner tongue are reinforced by metal.
The pins look decent, surprisingly.

Weight difference compared to the genuine product.
43.4g (1.53oz) vs 60g (2.12oz).
The weight usually is sufficient to identify a fake Apple charger. However, we have also seen a “premium version” that is exactly the same weight as original one. So we have to rely on other details to identify them.

One genuine Apple charger among three fake ones. Could you spot the real one?

We check the PDOs (Power Data Structures) with ChargerLAB POWER-Z KT001 USB Power Monitor and gets 5V3A and 9V2A. This is identical to the authentic product.

The scary thing is, it even has a serial number burned in. Previously, fake Apple chargers do not have an S/N. We read the S/N with ChargerLAB POWER-Z MF001 and it returns a correctly formatted S/N.
Be aware of this S/N: C3D8423C73YH1P9AR. If your charger showed this number, it is probably fake.
Though this version of fake 18W Apple USB-C charger does not return correct manufacture information, there are others do. Clearly, Apple’s encryption method has been cracked by those factories.

We take the risk to connect a 2018 MacBook Pro 13 to a “premium version” fake charger. The info showed in About This Mac -> System Report -> Power is 100% identical to a genuine product. It is the first time we see counterfeit Apple chargers can do things like this.

II. Teardown

Compared to the genuine product, the fake one is much easier to open. It uses a rare type of USB-C socket to imitate the one in the genuine product.

The front of the PCB. We have never seen a circuit this simple and crude in an AC wall charger before. A lot of components used for anti-interference are missing on the input side.

The metal contacts for prongs look very poorly made. To save the cost, there is nothing but a fuse is used for protection. Designs like this certainly will not pass any safety certification.

KSJ 400V 15µF electrolytic capacitor.

A 16V 820µF polymer capacitor near the USB-C socket for filtering.

A class-Y capacitor between the primary and secondary sides.

A closer look of the USB-C socket. We can clearly see the difference in terms of design and build quality from the pictures above. The daughter board in the fake product looks very fragile. The soldered points of cables connected to the transformer are not insulated. This poses great risks.

The USB-C socket is not securely soldered on the PCB. It has no reliability what so ever as the whole thing detached when a slight force was applied.

The PCB looks terribly made, too.

Primary switch: CM4N60F.

DONGKE Electronics DK5V100R25C secondary-side synchronous rectifier.

The back of the PCB.

ABS210 bridge rectifier for input.

Primary PWM controller. MPS HFC0500

EL 357N optical coupler between primary and secondary. It is used for output voltage feedback control.

Fintek F75192 USB-C and USB Power Delivery controller. It is legit, though not an excellent controller. We also suspect the S/N cheat is made possible by this IC.
There is also a MOSFET for output on the left.

All the components of the fake “Apple” 18W USB-C charger.

III. Summary

The exterior of fake “Apple” charger is made quite close to the genuine product. The output levels are same and it can even pass the S/N check. From the pictures above, we believe even people with little to none knowledge about electronics can tell the fake product is poorly designed and built to save production cost. However, without tearing it apart, it might not be that easy for someone to spot the fake one.
A lot of components like inductor are missing in the system. We do not recommend anyone using an unsafe product like this to charger their devices. Please purchase Apple accessories from authorized sellers if you need an additional charger for your devices.


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