Apple to replace faulty MacBook USB-C charging cables
Apple is recalling USB-C power cables for its new £1,000+ 12in laptop owing to a “design issue” which means they will fail to charge the computer, the company says.
The problem affects a limited number of the 2m USB-C charge cables that shipped with the MacBook laptops through June last year. The problem also affects cables sold as optional accessories.
The company said that customers who had provided their address with a product registration or purchase will be sent a new cable by the end of February.
The affected cables do not have a serial number printed on them next to the words “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China”. Those who have the recalled cables can replace them at an Apple retail store, authorised third parties or via Apple’s online support.
This is the second power cable recall in a month for Apple, after it recalled some power adapters that were sold with Mac computers, iPhones, iPads and iPods since 2003 at the end of January. Microsoft also issued a recall at the start of February for the power adapters for some of its Surface Pro computers sold before July 2015.
The use of USB-C for both charging and connectivity – a new USB specification designed to be the one cable for computers, tablets, smartphones and other electronics – has proven to be tricky for the consumer to navigate.
USB-C cables are capable of carrying much greater power than traditional USB cables, and as such can damage computers and power supplies, and can create electrical fire risks if not used correctly. Recently some third-party USB-C cables have been shown to not comply to the USB specifications.
Google engineer Benson Leung reported frying a £1,000 Chromebook Pixel while attempting to test as many USB-C cables for compliance as possible. The SurjTech cable he tested was wired incorrectly, destroying his test equipment.
Leung had previously discovered that many third-party USB-C cables had been wired with the wrong resistor making it possible for the smartphone, tablet or computer connected to it to draw more power from the power supply than was safe to do so, posing a risk of electrical fire or damage to the equipment.
The affected adapters were made between 2003 and 2015, and use a two-prong plug into the power socket, used across Europe, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and South Korea. They were also included in Apple’s World Travel Adapter kit sold in the UK and US.
Apple said in a statement: “Apple two-prong wall plug adapters may break and create a risk of electrical shock if touched. Because customer safety is the company’s top priority, Apple is asking customers to stop using affected plug adapters.”
The company said that the problem does not affect other Apple AC wall plug adapters for use in Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and US. Apple’s USB power adapters with plugs built in are also not affected.
Users can identify the faulty power adapters by looking underneath the part that is inserted into the power socket, which has either four or five characters or no characters printed inside it.