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Wireless headphones, chargers, cables… The real danger of fake smartphone accessories

As smartphone manufacturers often sell the accessories for their devices at a high price, it is very tempting to turn to brands, mostly Chinese ones, that sell copies for a ridiculously small price. However, to cut costs, these unscrupulous firms do not hesitate to take liberties with the most basic safety rules, even if it means endangering the consumer.

Two studies have looked at smartphone chargers as well as imitations of Apple’s wireless headphones. “UFC – Que Choisir” (a French consumer association) reviewed 20 chargers bought online or in well-known stores at prices ranging from 1 to 35 euros. This accessory, which is omnipresent in everyday life and which might seem extremely simple to manufacture, in reality, conceals complex electronic components that must meet rigorous standards and specifications.

Imperfect copies

At the same time, the magazine “60 millions de consommateurs” reviewed fake AirPods, Chinese copies of Apple’s wireless headphones, which are sometimes sold for a tenth of the price of the original, which starts at 179 euros. Among three bought, their sound is “catastrophic”, with a lack of bass and overly pronounced highs. Again, one of the models does not even meet safety standards and exceeds the maximum volume allowed of 10 decibels.

With a flood of Chinese copies of the major manufacturers’ electronic accessories, sold for a few dollars, it is crucial to be vigilant. These studies show that the price difference is not just a simple premium paid for the brand logo. These unscrupulous manufacturers do not hesitate to circumvent the most basic safety rules, putting users at risk. Moreover, it is not enough to avoid buying from Chinese online retailers, since these products can also be found on the shelves of the biggest, ultimately unseen, retailers.

High risk of electrocution or fire

In total, only 4 out of 20 chargers were compliant. For some, the only fault was the lack of a logo or mandatory instructions. But in more than half of the cases, 11 chargers, the problem was electrical: no overload and short-circuit protection, loose connectors, and insufficient insulation, combined with inferior quality materials. It exposes buyers to the risk of fire or electrocution.

In 2016, in the Netherlands, 47 people died, and 75,000 were burned because of a charger. The association points out that it is vital to check that the manufacturer gives all the mandatory information on his product (voltage, frequency, rated current, but also different logos), but also to avoid letting the charger charge at night and preferring the original charger.

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