Apple Recalls Faulty iPhone 3G Power Adapters

Remember that game where your parents would tell you not to stick your fingers in electrical outlets and then you would and you’d get shocked? Well it’s now a real-life app for iPhone 3G owners! Here’s how to play: plug your iPhone 3G’s ultra-compact USB power adapter into the wall. If the prongs break off and get stuck in the outlet creating a risk of electrocution, you win! Or lose. Probably the latter, which is why Apple recalled the devices on Friday.

“We have received reports of detached blades involving a very small percentage of the adapters sold, but no injuries have been reported,” Apple said in a statement.

Spokeswoman Natalie Kerris could not say exactly how many adapters have broken in this way.

The recall affects ultra-compact USB power adapters sold in the United States, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Panama and Peru.

Adapters with a green dot on the bottom are safe and do not need to be replaced, Apple said.

Just because the adapters are hazardous doesn’t mean Apple has replacements ready. No, you’ll have to wait until October 10 for those. Until then, charge your iPhone 3G with either the standard USB adapter with the fold-up prongs, or your computer’s USB port.

Apple recalls tiny iPhone 3G adapters [AP]


Edit Your Comment

  1. SJActress says:

    Yet another example of how Lackintosh products “just work”.


    • Mr_Human says:

      @SJActress: Yeah, because no product from every other company has ever failed, like _ever_.

      • Riddar says:

        @Mr_Human: And so it begins…

      • Jonbo298 says:

        @Mr_Human: It’s hilarious though when Apple fanboys defend their product until the end of time, no matter what has occurred.

        • cabinaero says:

          @Jonbo298: Not really. Whomever Apple sourced the power adapters to obviously screwed up. Apple should have had better QC controls in place, but it’s a bit hard to peg them — regardless of your feelings toward Apple — for being at fault for the screwup. At least with Apple the replacement program is painless. A few years ago Apple was involved in a similar recall/replace for certain laptop power adapters. I was affected and was in and out of an Apple store in less than 5 minutes with a new adapter.

    • @SJActress: If you don’t abuse the thing it will be fine. Frankly, I’m glad Apple is so good about making product recalls. Far too many companies don’t even bother until lawsuits force it out of them.

  2. jecowa says:

    I can’t count the number of times the Apple iPhone 3G phone charger has saved my life. People obviously broke their chargers on purpose because they are BlackBerry fanatics jealous that Apple’s iPhone is much more popular now.

  3. Trai_Dep says:

    Apple: even though small # of cases with no injuries reported, we’ll replaced ALL of ’em, just in case. It’s on us, including shipping!
    Dell/Gateway/Acus: ship your charred, electrocuted corpse as proof and if we receive enough of them, maybe we’ll get around to exchanging some of them. But it’s your fault, loser.

    • scoobydoo says:

      @Trai_Dep: BS. Apple has a horrible history of proactive recalls.

      • mgy says:

        @scoobydoo: I don’t believe that’s the case whatsoever. The major battery recall right around the release of the Macbook Pro was nothing but seamless. What are you talking about, specifically?

        • scoobydoo says:

          @mgy: The battery recall was initiated by Sony, Apple had no other choice than to go along. I’m talking about faulty video chips (in the PB G4), smoking Magsafe connectors, burning ipods etc…

    • FLConsumer says:

      @Trai_Dep: Bull. I have an Apple eMac sitting on the shelf here with known faulty capacitors. Apple admits they’re a problem but refuses to cover them. Dell replaced bad mobo’s.. Took a few phone calls but they at least replaced them. Not a Dell fan by any means, but at least they stood by their product.

      • spittingangels says:


        You mean this eMac repair program?:

        They would only NOT replace it if the system was more than 3 years old at the time you contacted Apple for repair. Apple does not warranty anything themselves beyond 3 years but they always have a flat rate repair for any systems beyond that time frame as long as the damage did not appear to be from misuse or ‘accidental’ damage.

        Getting back on topic, I checked out my two adapters that came with my iPhones. There’s no way the prongs would break off without excessive force. I suspect that will be the case for the majority of adapters but since there was some small number reported with a defect and it is a genuine safety hazard, I guess I will be one of the few in this thread to give kudos to Apple for issuing out a recall with having to wait for someone to actually get injured.

  4. GoVegan says:

    This seems like it would be an easy problem to fix by just using different prongs. I wonder if Apple really has a lot of control over what materials are used in their products and how fast they are able to change designs? I will say that I have had my ipod for years though and I love it!

  5. "I Like Potatoes" says:

    Always glad to see a company step up and do a recall. However, I would like to see Apple recall or even just replace the cheap laptop power cords for my iBook. If you go on the Apple website and look at the comments for the replacement cords they sell, nearly everyone has had an issue with it. Very cheaply made. Mine started to smoke and many people have had them catch on fire. They replaced mine since the computer was still under warranty. Never recalled, though. Apple no longer makes the computers that use the power cord but they still sell that fire hazard cord. I love my Mac (I’m not a fanatic, I just prefer it) but they really should have addressed that problem. (BTW, bought a replacement cord from MacWizards and it’s much, much better).

  6. DH405 says:

    Hey, they recalled pretty quickly. I already put my name in for one.

  7. Euvy says:

    Except that the charger with the fold-up prongs doesn’t work with the 3G iPhones. Try it and you’ll get the “Charging is not supported with this accessory” alert.

  8. mike says:

    Apple is doing what any company does when it realizes there is a problem: correct it.

    They released the problem so that people don’t electricute themselves and offer to replace them when it becomes available.

    I’ve only charged my iPhone with the compact charger when I’m traveling, which is rare. But good to know.

  9. deadspork says:

    At least they didn’t wait until there were injuries to recall them.

  10. blackmage439 says:

    “We have received reports of detached blades involving a very small percentage of the adapters sold, but no injuries have been reported,”

    Whoa, whoa. This makes no fucking sense. Very poor logistics on the part of Apple.

    Their Mag”safe” adapters have probably the lowest ratings on their website. It is documented they have cause fires, which includes both property damage and personal injury. Likewise, Apple claims the faulty ones are likewise a “small percentage”, yet no recall is issued.

    Can someone make sense of this? (Other than quoting Tyler Durdan’s infamous quote about if the cost to recall is more expensive than to fix the problem, no recall is issued.)

    • spittingangels says:


      Probably no recall on the adapters because in many cases (some but not all) the cause will be found to be excessive stress on the wire, causing separation of the insulation and possibly also neglect, where the wire has been exposed prior to the incident and the user neglects to getting a replacement.

      Also, the two most common points for these power cords to have exposed wires is at either end of the thin cable that leads from the brick part to the computer. This section of cable carries a low voltage and amperage, not enough to put people’s life in danger. And despite what a small but very vocal group of dissatisfied customers would have you believe on the internet, the occurrence of an actual fire is very low. The adapters themselves may start sparking where the wire has been exposed and making loud crackling noises but would have to be near something flammable to actually start a fire. The worst the adapters would do on their own might be to have melted insulation around where the sparks occur.

      You could say the adapters have a far worse bark than bite, to put it into an appropriate metaphor.

      That’s not to say that there are not legitimate cases where the customer does nothing to contribute to the failure but there are enough incidents where customers helped cause the failure (such as not allowing enough slack in the cable, tripping over it or snagging it or winding too tightly) and then continuing to use when the damage was already apparent. Enough cases to skew the results and determine the issue does not stem strictly from a manufacturing or design defect.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wow, this is hilarious. So when the Sony batteries on Dell laptops get recalled, it’s Dell’s fault through-and-through. Yet, when it’s an Apple product, suddenly it’s NOT their fault and it’s the fault of their contracted manufacturer.


  12. cerbie says:

    It’s good they are being open and proactive about it.

    That said, this a big WTF. Did they contract out the building, or the whole design process? There should be no way, without forcefully destroying such a unit, to move the pins going to the outlet. They should be securely screwed in, or molded to the back plastic (which would then be sealed to the main body).