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A dodgy USB-C cable and cheap charger can definitely destroy your iPhone

It's a risk, but it's not a big risk - as long as you know the warning signs.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Silhouette of iPhone charger
Mustafa Çiftçi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Some things will never make sense to me. For example, I've seen countless people spend hundreds of dollars on a smartphone, and then connect that expensive device to cheap cables and chargers picked up from dollar stores or from some shady website.

Now, as someone who tests a lot of cables and chargers, I know that there's a lot of rubbish out there. Stuff that I wouldn't want to connect to my iPhone.

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But here's the flipside -- the charging and battery management systems built into modern devices are so good that they can still safely handle being hooked up to these devices. They might charge slowly, or maybe not at all, but it's surprisingly hard to get something to go bang, emit sparks, or catch fire.

I know because I try to do this. I try quite often actually. The most common issues I come across are chargers that just don't work properly and cables where the connectors fall off easily.

But things can go wrong, as one Redditor discovered to their detriment.

Redditor NoisilyMarvellous came back to their iPhone 15 Pro Max that had been left of charge to find the cable had "melted some of the plastic, left burn marks on the body and stuck the metal part of the USB-C port into the phone."  On removing the charred remnant of the cable, they discovered that the "entire inside is blackened, and most importantly, it doesn't charge with a cable charger anymore."

Also: The best USB-C cables for the iPhone 15: What the experts recommend

The iPhone was being charged using a "travel adapter and a USB-C cable from Amazon," and according to the Redditor, the cable was "a long one (for convenience)."

Charred remains of a USB-C charging cable.

Charred remains of a USB-C charging cable.


OK, I've only seen a photo of the aftermath, but this looks to me like the root cause was a damaged cable at the connector, where bending and flexing had caused the cable to short-circuit and overheat. Now, a decent charger should pick up on issues like this and stop sending power along the cable, but poorer quality chargers with fewer safety features can carry on delivering power, and this then results in overheating and other mayhem.

But again, I want to point out that these are an unusually rare set of circumstances. It's one of those things where a bad charger and a damaged cable came together in the right -- or wrong -- way to cause havoc. 

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Sure, if you want to go down the cheaper, more affordable route for chargers and cables, I suggest going with quality third-party stuff from companies such as Anker and Ugreen, avoiding the cheap no-name stuff.

I've seen in the comments a few people say that the problem was down to a long cable. 


I regularly use USB-C-to-USB-C cables that are 10-foot long and can handle up to 240W of power with no problem at all. 

And if you see any damage on a cable or charger, of you find something overheating, stop using the hardware immediately. 

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