X-Ray Sleuthing Unveils The Fake In Your Adaptors

Lets face it, the knock-off variety of our favourite adaptors, cables and accessories are becoming increasingly challenging to spot. We would be the first to admit, to have at some point, been stooped by a carefully crafted counterfeit by failing to spot the tell-tale yet elusive indicators such as the misplaced font face, the strategically misspelled logo or perhaps the less polished than expected plastic moulding and packaging. When you finally come around to using it, if you are lucky the item is still more or less functionally adequate, otherwise by now the inferior performance (if not the initial cost!) would have made it pretty obvious that what you have is infact a counterfeit.

[Oliver] recently found himself in a similar situation, after acquiring a seemingly original Lightning to Headphone Adaptor. Rather than dismay, [Oliver] decided to channel this energy into an excellent forensic investigation to uncover just what exactly made this imitation so deceptive. He began by comparing the packaging, printed typeface and the plastic moulding, all of which gave very little away. [Oliver] concluded that atleast superficially, the clone was rather good and the only way to settle this was to bring out the X-ray, of course!  

The resulting images of the innards make it blatantly obvious as to why the adaptor is indeed very fake. For a start, compared to the original adaptor, the clone hosts a far more thin BOM count! If you are really serious in getting some training to better spot counterfeits, check out a post we featured earlier on the subject!

35 thoughts on “X-Ray Sleuthing Unveils The Fake In Your Adaptors

          1. Yeah, I bought one and don’t bother if you’re looking to actually do anything more than mess around. It’s just a vacuum tube that happens to give off a bit more than x-rays than others. LOOONG exposure times when using camera pointed at an x-ray film cassette and image quality was pretty bad due to it not being a point source. But still fun to mess with – definitely a lot safer way.

  1. I’m no expert on manufacturing, but isn’t the counterfeit more resistant to cable being torn out from the connectors? Assuming that the additional wire bends are embedded in plastic.

    1. High end design doesn’t always mean they get every aspect right, so it could very well be the case.

      Look at Apple. Their connectors are some of the very worst designs because they refuse to use strain relief, to look more “elegant” or whatever.

      Going back to the traditions from things like quartz vs mechanical watches, fine China vs Corelle, wood vs plastic, flat vs textured that shows or hides scratches, there’s a long history of high end stuff often being delicate, and it’s hard to imagine that none of that influence got into consumer tech.

      1. “Their connectors are some of the very worst designs because they refuse to use strain relief, to look more “elegant” or whatever.”

        You forgot to mention repeat sales of pure-profit items to the gullible.

        1. +1
          I’ve never had an original apple lightning cable fail. Nor an amazon basics one.
          Almost all the other knockoffs have failed.

          Of all the cables I’ve had, MicroUSB seem to be the worst for failing.

          I’ve also never had a laptop charger cable fail (Apple or otherwise), but having lent a laptop to a friend, the cable suddenly wore and started to fail.

          Clearly some people treat kit differently to others. Thing is, I don’t think I’m particularly careful – friends in audio (commercial audio, not hifi snobs) and friends who climb flinch at how I wind cables.

      2. Back when computer mice still had balls I repaired a lot of cords on higher priced models that didn’t have strain reliefs. Had to cut an inch off then solder to stubs I left on the internal connector. Always got a break right where the cable exited the mouse.

        The cheap mice typically had the cable soldered to the PCB, and a molded on strain relief so it couldn’t bend against a sharp hole edge.

        IIRC there was some that used a recessed cable hole with gently curved sides so the cord couldn’t bend sharply. It worked and was a logical thing to do, probably patented so the whole mouse industry couldn’t adopt it.

        Currently I’m using a wireless Logitech trackball. Had to get a 2″ USB port extender for the Unifying receiver because the !#@^% things for some reason after a while start to have problems with working properly when plugged directly into a USB port. Yup, updated the firmware on all my Logitech Unifying receivers, didn’t fix the problem.

        1. That unifying receiver comment has me baffled.

          I can not for the life of me think of any reason why they would, then wouldn’t work, in a direct USB port installation.

          I’ve had mine go iffy with even small metallic objects in LOS, but nothing as a function of time… How odd.

          1. Probably something on the desk has been moved and now causes interference. I had periodic problems with my old Logitech (pre Bluetooth) wireless kit – swapping the receiver position around always solved it. A few months later it’d stop working, and I’d move it back.

          2. I have similar problems with my logitech receiver plugged into the front ports of the desktop, but it works fine everywhere else A cheap multimedia keyboard receiver also works without issues.

            What’s even beyond strange, is that the mouse, maybe 1.5m away, does not work on glass if the receiver is plugged into that port. If the receiver is plugged into a laptop, the mouse works fine even on glass, a few meters away. It works fine with a mousepad. It doesn’t work on the couch surface (textile).
            I used a usb extension cable to plug the receiver into the back port of the PC, but it’s almost exactly in the same physical position, I would say even worse w.r.t. EMI. It now works on glass and everything.

            On the other hand, I’ve never changed the batteries in my logitech mouse in >5 years and rarely turned it off. It still has the original duracell AA inside.

        2. I’ve noticed that some ports with some devices, you can push it in “too far”. I don’t know if it runs off the ends of the pads inside the socket or what, but if you tweak them back a mm or two they work.

        3. My Samsung Galaxy S8 would interfere with the wireless signal if I laid it down on the desk even somewhat far away from the mouse. I have not noticed this with the S10.

  2. Why bother if it works, are ppl really all like “I was ripped off, but I wasn’t ripped off ENOUGH, Apple needs my extra $20 or little Timmy will be starving on the street.”

  3. Honestly, the fake packaging wit the Wording on title on the box is easy to spot if you are looking for something wrong.
    The space between the “g” and the “h” is quite obvious.
    I’m always surprise why they just can’t copy a lettering but have no problem reverse engineering the full electronic inside!

    1. Counterfeits get destroyed at customs when they use trademark labels. If the spelling or trademark logo is not right, then it isn’t technically counterfeit–it’s just a copy. Port authority has trouble identifying stuff, just like we do.

    1. either that or was going for “have stooped to buy” and changed direction halfway through.

      Alternatively, some version with stopped or stumped ??

      Or all these “mistakes” are some kind of code… Kowalski, frequency analysis!

  4. Slightly off-topic but does anyone have a line on an affordable xray solution for SMT? Was talking to our CM about this yesterday and currently they can place fine pitch but don’t have the inspection capabilities.

  5. Bigger x-ray and a swivel chair – could easily record a procrastinating skeleton. Nearly lock-down bored enough to try. I do have an x-ray source and HV PSU. Fortunately nothing to record the image with. Oh well, back to binge watching Next Generation…

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