What is False Charging?

iphone-battery-dying-while-charging.jpg

It says It's Charging

So why is the battery dying?

Ever seem like your iPhone's battery continues to drain even when plugged in? It's not your imagination - it has everything to do with the charging cable, and we'll explain how!

When the iPhone 5 was introduced in 2012, perhaps the most notable change from previous generations was the new "Lightning Connector" used for charging and data transfer. Despite criticism about creating a whole new proprietary design that rendered millions of older iPod and iPhone accessories obsolete, the new connector was objectively better than the previous 30-pin version by nearly every measurable metric. The lightning cable is ambidextrous; it doesn't matter which way you plug it in. It is also 1/4 the size of the 30-pin connector, freeing up precious engineering design space.

The newer Lightning connector is roughly 25% of the original 30-Pin Apple connector's width

The newer Lightning connector is roughly 25% of the original 30-Pin Apple connector's width

With all this new technology in the connector, the plug was not easy for third party manufacturers to copy. There is a chipset within the connector that tells the phone it is OK to charge, and the phone's internal over-voltage protection is deferred to the lightning connector. The problem comes in when a cheap copy cable is used; the over-voltage protection is either non-existent or insufficient, and a power spike can burn up the charging circuit within your iPhone.

We call this symptom "False Charging"

When the Tristar charging IC is compromised, we see all kinds of strange behavior - sometimes the phone won't even power on, other times it will show the charging symbol but the battery percentage will never increase. You may see "This accessory is not supported" messages when the phone is plugged in to charge. Under these circumstances, replacing either the battery or the charging port will not fix the problem. In order to bring it back online, we replace the burnt up chip responsible for routing the charging current between the lightning cable and the battery. After this repair is completed you should be able to resume charging the battery normally, just remember to throw out those cheap knock-off lightning cables!

A healthy iPhone 6 will charge the battery with nearly 1 Amp of current

A healthy iPhone 6 will charge the battery with nearly 1 Amp of current

A failing charge circuit cannot route enough current to the battery to keep it alive

A failing charge circuit cannot route enough current to the battery to keep it alive

How can I prevent damage to my phone's charging system?

Unfortunately, it's terribly difficult to differentiate a certified cable from a cheap copy. First, look for labeling on the package indicating the product is "MFi Certified." MFi stands for "Made For i" (iPod, iPhone, iPad) and it means the product contains Apple's own chipset, guaranteeing compatibility. The problem is if you are buying an unknown name brand, they could very well contain fake chips and advertise them as genuine. Some knock-off cable manufacturers have even included pictures of the fake chipset in advertisements designed to boost your confidence in their cheaply made product:

 
MFI-Logo.png
 
A brazen attempt to pass off phony chips as genuine. This would be better suited as a shoelace than a charging cable!

A brazen attempt to pass off phony chips as genuine. This would be better suited as a shoelace than a charging cable!

Can you spot the difference? This is the genuine Apple MFi chipset (Image courtesy of www.chipworks.com)

Can you spot the difference? This is the genuine Apple MFi chipset (Image courtesy of www.chipworks.com)

The moral of the story is that you simply can't trust a cheap cable. Apple sells these chipsets to authorized manufacturers at a flat rate, so generally speaking if a Lightning cable is less than $10 it probably does not have the genuine MFi chipset included. That means the cheapo pink charging cable you picked up for $3 at a gas station is probably doing more harm than good!

At PhoneDoc, we physically dissect and inspect a sample unit of every cable we intend to sell or use for shop duties. At the time of this article, the charging cables we've confirmed to contain genuine MFi chipsets include:

  • Apple
  • Griffin
  • Belkin
  • Puregear
  • Amazon Basics
  • Ventev

Now this is in no way an exhaustive compendium, but nearly every reputable seller of charging cables should have at least one of these brands available. Without the tools and equipment to dissect and inspect your own cables, this is truly a 'better safe than sorry' situation.

Experiencing False Charging symptoms? Visit any PhoneDoc for a free evaluation. We will first test a new battery and charging port to determine if a simpler fix exists for your device. If your Tristar charging IC needs replacement we are equipped to perform this repair efficiently and affordably!

PhoneDoc specializes in rapid, professional service providing iPhone Repair, iPad Repair, & Android Repair in Mandeville, Covington, and Baton Rouge, LA