There is no getting around the fact that Apple accessories are expensive. But instead of assuming that price meant quality, Ken Shirriff decided to tear an iPhone charger apart—and what he found justifies the expense.
Ken has written up an exhaustive analysis of his iPhone charger teardown over on his website. Those of you who are technically minded will find his analysis of printed circuit boards, isolation, and the quality of the transformer fascinating reading.
But for those of you who are just keen to know why the chargers are so expensive, Ken summarizes:
"Apple's power adapter is clearly a high-quality power supply designed to produce carefully filtered power. Apple has obviously gone to extra effort to reduce EMI interference, probably to keep the charger from interfering with the touchscreen. When I opened the charger up, I expected to find a standard design, but I've compared the charger to the Samsung charger and several other high-quality industry designs, and Apple goes beyond these designs in several ways...
"Apple's design provides extra safety in a few ways... the super-strong AC prongs, and the complex over-temperature / over-voltage shutdown circuit. Apple's isolation distance between primary and secondary appears to go beyond the regulations...
"Apple's iPhone charger crams a lot of technology into a small space. Apple went to extra effort to provide higher quality and safety than other name-brand chargers, but this quality comes at a high cost."
In fact, Apple seems to squeeze an awful lot of technology into a very, very small space. It's the best kind of over-engineering: rock-solid performance, incredibly safe, and all concealed in a light and small package.
Whether it really needs to be that good, of course, is up for debate. Especially given that the extra quality, according to Ken, probably only adds an extra dollar or so to the cost of the components that other chargers use. The rest? That'll be margin. [Ken Shirriff]