Watt to Know About iPhone & iPad Power Adapters [UPDATED]

| Analysis

Over the years, Apple has sold several different kinds of power adapters for its iPods, iPhones, and iPads. They’ve changed size, changed labeling, and changed power output. In one case, an older iPhone adapter has the same size, but insufficient power for an iPad so there’s ample opportunity for confusion. This article sorts it all out. (And yes, the title is a pun.)

1. Apple started out with the classic iPods, that used FireWire 400, using a power adapter called the “Apple iPod Power Adapter.” It’s model number A1003, and the output is 12 watts (12 volts x 1 amp). It’s about 6 cm. on a side, and should be used with older iPods that use FireWire 400. It looks like this.

Apple Charger #1

#1 (Original) Apple iPod Power Adapter (FireWire 400) 12W

2. The next generation of chargers, arrived when the iPods went 100 percent USB. It was called “iPod USB Power Adapter.”  There were two versions. The first version, call it 2a., was the same size as the FireWire version above, about 6 cm square, It is model # A1102, and is rated at 5 watts (5 volts x 1 amp).

IPod Power Adapter 

#2a. iPod USB Power Adapter (5W) (Original)

The next version of this 5W adapter, call it 2b., was slightly smaller than the original shown above, being about 4.5 cm. square. The model number is A1205, and it also puts out 5 watts (5 volts x 1 amp.) It’s suitable for all USB iPods and the iPhone. (It shipped with the original iPhone.) If you bought several early iPods and worked your way up through the iPhones, you probably have a few of these laying around.

Power Adapter -2

#2b. iPod USB Power Adapter 5W (Revised)

3. When Apple came out with the iPad in April, 2010, its larger capacity battery called for a charger with more power. It ships with the “10W USB Power Adapter” model number A1357. It’s output is 10.7 watts (5.1 volts x 2.1 amps) Unfortunately, it looks just like #2b.

Power Adapter -3

#3. 10W USB Power Adapter (looks just like #2b) 10.7W

If you try to use the old 5 watt adapter (#2a/b above) with an iPad, it will work, but it’ll charge the iPad much more slowly when it’s idle and perhaps not much at all when in active use. So if you have any “#2” type chargers laying around, it’s probably a good idea to mark them as 5W so you don’t accidentally try to use it with an iPad.Power Adapter -5

4. Starting with the iPhone 3G, Apple started shipping iPhones with the “Ultracompact USB Power Adapter,” although it’s too small to actually print that text on it. The model number is A1265, and it’s about 2.8 x 2.5 cm and outputs 5 watts (5 volts x 1 amp.) Being as small as it is, it naturally suggests that you should only use it with iPod touch and iPhones.

Power Adapter -4

Ultracompact USB Power Adapter 5W

In September, 2008, Apple discovered that some of these Ultracompact adapters had a defect that could lead to the prongs snapping off and offered to replace them free of charge. The replacement adapters have a small green dot next to the prongs.

It’s important to note that you can use the 10W charger (#3) to charge an iPhone. Even though it’s over capacity, both #3 and #4 chargers output 5V, and the iPhone will only take as much current as it needs to charge. There’s no risk of damaging your iPhone. See my comment above about the other way around.

The type printed on the sides of these power adapters is incredibly small; it’s almost impossible to read. I am 20/15 at 12 inches, and I needed a lighted magnifying glass to read the ultra-fine print, output and model numbers. So, as I mentioned above, a permanent marker and a code, 5W or 10W, for some of your #2 and #3 chargers is a good idea.

Nowadays, all iPads ship with #3 and all iPhones ship with #4. (The iPod touch comes with the USB Dock Connector cable but no power adapter.) So there shouldn’t be any confusion moving forward.

Thank goodness.

[This article was updated on 20 Feb 2012 to include the model A1102, #2a]


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Lee Dronick

Open letter to Apple power adapter designers

Please make the power specs more prominent. 3pt gray text on white does not make for easy reading. You could put the power info on the side of the bricklette using at least 12pt type, perhaps even emboss it into the plastic.

While I am at it I might as well take the shampoo and conditioner container graphic artists to task. Yes, I understand you want your brand name to be large and prominent, but it is also important to make the content readable. I shouldn’t have to squint at small size type to make sure that I am shampooing with shampoo, not conditioner.

Thank you, I am off to score some chocolate.


They should ask if you need a new charger or not. Just now I’ve 5 of them lying around.

That would help save the planet smile

Lee Dronick

They should ask if you need a new charger or not. Just now I?ve 5 of them lying around.

Same here and some of them are FireWire though the iPods that they came with have long since given up the ghost. I have two of those FireWire to USB adapters so I can still use the chargers. Last weekend was a free electronic and electrical recycling event so I got rid of a lot of stuff, including ancient chargers, broken extension cords, and such.


I have an original #1 Firewire iPod charger. AFAIK it still works but when I plug in my current iPods I get an error saying the charger is incompatible with this device.

Last July we bought an iPad. On the way home we stayed in a hotel in Bismarck ND and I discovered a brand new #3 iPad Power Supply and cable. It was plugged in behind the coffeemaker and the cord hung down behind the table leg so nobody could see it, not even the housekeeping staff. I wouldn’t have noticed it either except I wanted to plug in my iPad.
smile score! smile


I shouldn?t have to squint at small size type to make sure that I am shampooing with shampoo, not conditioner.

Or body wash. I finally put my shampoo in a softsoap container so it’s the only bottle shaped like that in the shower. A ketchup bottle would work too.


Is there any difference between revs of iPod Touches and their power adapters?  My Mom swears that her older iPod touch won’t charge with certain power adapters (or with the cable plugged into certain ports on the computer).  I keep telling her there should be no difference in power adapters, and this article would indicate that I’m right.  All the ones she has are type 4. (Unless she’s using a type 3 that one of my little sisters has when I’m not looking.)

I assume that on the computer (one she has is an older PC laptop) that there might be USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 ports, and the 1.1 ports would charge more slowly.


They should ask if you need a new charger or not. Just now I?ve 5 of them lying around.

That would help save the planet

I’d say yes each time.  My iPhone 3G’s original charger died at one point (just the brick, the cable works fine plugged into my computer), so I had to buy a new one.  Therefore I want to collect those chargers in case any more die.  Plus if I find someone to give my old stuff to, the charger goes with it.


Your history of adapters does not include the model I purchased when buying 2 30GB iPods in late 2005. That adapter is labeled Model A1102, output is 5V/1A. The box (yes I still have them) is titled iPod USB Power Adapter.


I find that my iPhone chargers work pretty well charging up either model iPad. But when using it, it may just keep it charged to the level you began with. This depends on what you’re doing, and how bright you keep the screen. It might recharge slowly while reading books when the screen is just halfway up, or the app is set that way.

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