Should You Buy a Generic Charger to Save Money?

Chargers can get kind of pricey, especially if you have a tendency to lose them when you're traveling. For example, the Apple Store sells iPhone chargers for $20 to $30. It can be quite tempting to stray from the Original Equipment Manufacturing version when you see the generic chargers for just $1 on Amazon. Do nonbrand-name chargers work just as well as their OEM counterparts? We talk to Anthony Scarsella of Gazelle, a company that buys old gadgets from consumers and sells them on eBay, who gives us the lowdown on whether the risk is worth it.

Scarsella, the chief gadget officer, says he personally feels the risk of damaging a $500 device isn't worth saving $20 to $30. "Purchasing an OEM charger from the retailer or carrier is always the way to go," he says. But for those who insist on saving, other options are available. Customers can buy chargers from reputable brands such as Belkin and Griffin, which make highly rated chargers and products with good surge protection. As for Android gadgets, Scarsella says, "many Android devices, which use a standard micro-USB port, offer similar charging specs, and most of the time, moving from an HTC, Motorola, or Samsung should be fine. I would always just double-check to see if the power ratings match up between the chargers first." One shop he recommends (and which he has used in the past) for Android chargers is

To the savers who want to get a charger for dirt cheap through eBay or Amazon, the CGO cautions them to do their homework. Do your best to make sure the generic charger has the same power rating as your OEM charger. "With a higher power rating, you can run the risk of damaging the device, and if it is too low, it will take days to complete a full charge," Scarsella says. And of course, read through all the reviews about the product, seller, and functions before adding the product to your online shopping cart.

If you have more lingering tech questions, reach out to Scarsella @gazellelab.