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I live in the US and will study abroad in England this spring.

I'm wondering if I can just buy a new iPhone charger once I arrive there or if I need to carry around an adapter with my current charger? I'm not sure if my US iPhone can handle that/if there is even a difference? I just feel like it would be more convenient if I had a charger with the correct plug on it already. (Edit: I think this is getting misinterpreted a bit. I have adapters already, I’m more asking just to see if my phone is physically capable of using UK chargers.)

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8 Answers 8

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Separate the cable from the block/plug part

Your iPhone charger is made of a Lightning cable joined to a USB charging block.

The blocky part with the USB socket and AC plug is a commodity item available all over the place - in every convenience store, grocery, gas station, cell phone shop, home store, grocery, you name it. Just like it is in the USA, where it's easier to find than eggs.

So when you come to the UK bring the cable with you, leave the AC plug at home, and buy one with a UK power plug. If your reaction is "that thing is enormous!" you got the right one lol.

I mean you can buy Lightning cables too, they're right next to the charger blocks... but why buy one when you don't have to.

Avoid those cheap mail-order adapters

Those things are not legal or safe, and are fires looking for a place to happen. Look for either a UL Listing, or the British equivalent of the BSI Kitemark. While CE logos are valid on items sold in quality retail stores inside the EU, they are almost always counterfeit on mail order items from Amazon and other 3rd party marketplaces.

As a general rule, don't bring electrical appliances across oceans. It takes 5 times its weight in CO2 to bring an item across an ocean. That is especially true for high wattage heat making appliances! They have hair dryers in the UK, honest :)

For low power appliances, look closely at the labeling. Some appliances accept a wide variety of voltages from 100-240V, and those can use simple plug adapters that don't require voltage conversion.

For voltage converters, read their instructions carefully and don't abuse them.

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  • Thank you!!! This is the exact explanation I was looking for:)
    – leftclique
    Dec 4, 2022 at 18:46
  • As a rule of thumb, most modern adapters that convert AC to DC can cope with a wide range of input voltages, because switched-mode power supplies are specifically designed to do that by varying their duty cycles. While it is prudent to inspect the label to confirm that your particular adapter supports 240 V, in practice it almost always will. Older adapters are a different story, because many of them use other, less flexible designs.
    – Kevin
    Dec 4, 2022 at 19:47
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All chargers worldwide put out the same power regardless of input. So yes, you can just buy a new charger.

It might even be cheaper than buying an adapter.

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  • 14
    It's highly unlikely to be cheaper: plug adapters are a few dollars, while Apple charges through the nose for accessories. Dec 2, 2022 at 11:12
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    If the asker's charger is the type with a removable cable, they can just bring the cable, leave the socket, and buy any cheap UK plug with a USB socket, and plug it straight in. That's probably at least as cheap as a US-to-UK adapters. Dec 2, 2022 at 11:50
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    @user56reinstatemonica8 "any cheap UK plug with a USB socket" may not give enough power
    – Petr
    Dec 2, 2022 at 12:02
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    @lambshaanxy doesn't have to be branded Apple gear, as long as it's a cellphone charger it should be good. Don't go for a cheap Chinese knockoff though, they're dangerous and often don't provide the power needed either
    – jwenting
    Dec 2, 2022 at 13:54
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    I feel your wording is ambiguous. Regardless of input, yes, but not all chargers put out the same power (they are all compatible with all USB devices, but some provide only the minimum 2.5W while others may go as high as 30W, which will radically change how long it takes to recharge. Also while low-power charging is standard, high-speed charging is a lot less standard, so even a 30W charger may not necessarily charge a phone very fast if it's not compatible.
    – jcaron
    Dec 2, 2022 at 15:33
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Disclaimer: I don't own an iPhone, I'm basing my answer on my experience with Android phones.

First of all, the iPhones sold in the UK are the same (at least charging-wise) as in the US, only the charger is different (and most probably only the charger plug). So you can buy a charger in the UK and it will work with your iPhone (just make sure that it's indeed lightning).

However, as Giacomo Catenazzi has correctly noted, shopping for a charger may be inconvenient for many reasons, and you may get only a cheap charger that will take a lot of time to charge your iPhone.

I would also add that an iPhone charger (unlike many other things such as a spare TShirt or even a laptop charger) is a thing that you may want to have immediately on arriving to your hotel (think how long your trip will be and how much charge will remain in your iPhone after that time, take into account whether you'll be using your iPhone while on the plane, thus draining the battery). You probably do not want to spend a couple of days with a dead iPhone just because you can not find a charger. (And finding a store with a dead iPhone can also be a challenge!)

Also, you may need your charger during the trip: electric outlets are common in the airports, stations, trains, etc, even some planes may have them, and it is very convenient to have a charger at hand to charge your iPhone while you are waiting for your flight.

Takeaway: buying a charger is possible, but may be very inconvenient.


At the same time, your charger most probably will work in the UK provided you have an adapter. There are two things that are different in the UK as compared to the US: the voltage and the plug type.

As for the plug, you can easily buy an adapter, it does not contain any electronics inside, it simply allows you to connect the charger plug to the outlet. An adapter will be useful to your anyway (are you bringing a laptop with you? maybe other electric equipment such as a camera charger?), so it'll be a good idea to buy a few adapters before you leave the US. They must be very cheap.

The voltage is a different beast, some electric devices can burn when plugged to a higher UK voltage. But almost all modern chargers and other simple consumer equipment can run both on US 120 V as well as the UK 230 V. Your charger most probably has allowed voltage marked on it, you may check it to be sure; my charger reads "Input: AC 100-240V".

Takeaway: your charger should work provided you buy an adapter; look at the marking on your charger to be absolutely sure.


So personally I would not only take a charger (and an adapter or two) with me, but also put it into hand luggage.

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You have the choice:

  • You can use your existing charger with just an adapter. The charger will accept 230V mains power from the UK exactly as it accepts 120V mains power from the US, the adapter is only needed so that you can insert the plug into the socket. You can buy adapters from nearly anywhere.

  • You can buy a new adapter, which will have the right plug (the big bulky UK plug).

    • If you want to re-use your existing cable (or maybe a MagSafe charger), make sure the output of the charger is the same (most common chargers have the older USB-A output, some more recent chargers have the newer and smaller USB-C output). Note that if you buy a charger with a cable, it needs to have a Lightning port to connect to your iPhone.

    • While any charger will work, not all chargers are created equal. Some provide very little power, and it will take longer to recharge your phone. Better chargers provide more power, which can make charging quicker if they are compatible with your phone. Chargers with an USB-C output should all be compatible, while for chargers with an USB-A output YMMV.

Since you have an iPhone, the easiest (but not cheapest) way to be sure is to buy the charger from Apple. The current standard charger is the "20W USB-C Power Adapter" (just under £20). It has an USB-C output (so you need your cable to be USB-C to Lightning), and does not come with a cable.

Alternatively, some Apple chargers (and others) have two parts: the charger itself, and the plug. It's then possible to change just the plug (using the brand's World Travel Adapter Kit.

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In general yes, but there are few problems:

iPhone chargers may be expensive (especially if you intend to leave them behind, so the durability is not so important).

Finding a shop may not be simple: depending on countries they may be closed on Sundays or on evening, and electronic shops may have language problems.

And you may get just USB charger which has very little power. Very annoying in some hotels where power is switched off when you leave the room, or with sockets at inconvenient places.

Personally I try to bring one (and also cables). Sometime I forget them, or with travel they break, for this reasons I found the above problems. Note: many hotels and restaurants may borrow you a charger, or let the phone charge when you are there (and fortunately we are no more in the epoch with "who has the charger for "new Nokia", for "Sony Ericson", etc.? Now iPhone lighting and USB are available everywhere.

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    +1. Buying a new charger is definitely possible, but may easily be inconvenient.
    – Petr
    Dec 2, 2022 at 10:56
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    Also, I'd add that, unlike many other things (such as a spare TShirt), an iPhone charger is something that you might desperately want immediately after arriving to your hotel. You may simply not have time for shopping around.
    – Petr
    Dec 2, 2022 at 10:58
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    "electronic shops may have language problems." In the UK? Unless you are talking about regional accents this is not likely to be an issue.
    – Clumsy cat
    Dec 2, 2022 at 19:48
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If your US iPhone charger is an Apple product, it will happily charge your iPhone in the UK; an Apple charger can accept the higher voltage provided by electrical sockets in the UK. Some (perhaps most) aftermarket chargers will also do this.

The standard US power plug is differently-shaped than UK sockets. The simplest solution is a plug adapter, so that the two- or three-prong plug you use in the US can connect to the differently-shaped UK sockets. Because there are no electronics in a plug adapter (just a change in the physical presentation of the connectors), they're less expensive than buying a new charger.

Plug adapters look like this:

enter image description here

(image from Google)

A million different varieties of plug adapters are available all over the place: hardware stores, markets, airports, mail order. I have a paper bag of various adapters in my closet, and have used them happily all over the world in decades of international travel.

EDIT: Note user Dezza's comment below, with which I agree. Here's an Amazon photo of an adapter with a fully-exposed ground pin:

enter image description here

There are more elegant solutions (replace the Apple power cord with a made-for-the-UK cord and plug, replace the charger's "duck head" so the charger itself plugs directly into the UK socket, add additional sockets to the assembly so you can plug in additional US devices) but these are at least a little more complicated, and apt to be more expensive.

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    Just don't buy the one pictured! The semi-sleeved earth pin will mean that when the plug is fully inserted, the contacts in the socket (which are closer on the earth than live/neutral) will be against the plastic sleeveing and your appliance will not be earthed.
    – Dezza
    Dec 2, 2022 at 16:34
  • I miss the 'have a usb socket in the wall unit' which are becoming more popular, not just wall units but also extension leads for several plugs.
    – Willeke
    Dec 2, 2022 at 18:33
  • This is exactly what the OP didn't want. Dec 2, 2022 at 22:23
  • @user3067860 That's true. The OP amended their question after the answer was posted. Dec 2, 2022 at 23:02
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    Just to note that US iPhone chargers are two-prong, so his phone charging isn’t grounded (a/k/a earthed) at home. Dec 3, 2022 at 17:37
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First, iPhones sold worldwide are pretty much the same. The different markets get some software differences and some differences regarding wifi or cell standards, but the charging is 100% the same for a given model. This is true for both wired and wireless charging.

iPhones (all of them, from the first iPhone with no number all the way to the last 14 (or was it 15 already? ) use USB charging.

The plug from the iPhone side is not a standard USB, but if the cable is detachable from the charger, the charger side is always a standard USB-A (older ones) or USB-C (newer ones).

In an emergency, any USB charger or a computer USB port that has the corresponding female USB-A or USB-C will do. But it may not be the most efficient solution (the charging may be way slower than expected)

Depending on the iPhone model, one may want to use USB-A 2.4 ampere charger (the older iPhone models) or USB-C with USB-PD charging protocol (iPhone 8 and later).

Of course, one can just get a local iPhone charger for the corresponding iPhone model, but this has little or no value (other than paying premium for the brand).


I strongly advice against using AC plug adapters.

While some of them can work and even save the day, they also have traditionally low build quality, loose electrical contacts that can spark and arc (fire hazard!) and enable plugging things in an electrical grid with the wrong voltage.

Using an AC plug adapter one also generally loses a lot of protections that the local power grid offers (e.g. grounding).

In the strict sense, plug adapters are generally illegal in most electrical codes around the world. For a reason.

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Here is what Apple themselves offer for chargers (retrieved today from Apple's UK website via a VPN):

enter image description here

Depending on the age of your cell phone you may or may not have the right Lightning cable (older ones were USB-A, now they are USB-C). So it could cost as much as 38 GBP.

Plug adapters seldom are officially safety approved for the places where they are actually used. Most of them are safe enough provided whatever is plugged in is double insulated. Laptops with a ground pin can often find the ground flapping in the breeze- for example one travel adapter I have sports a plastic UK ground pin and two-pin plug for EU, but happily receives a 3-pin US-style plug.

To be 100% safe I would limit myself to buying the chargers sold in the official Apple store. Failing that, get a known brand name. There are poor quality units about. That said, it's rare (but quite possible) for them to actually destroy a phone. Isolation is also a potential risk- there have been rare cases of fatal shocks delivered through faulty chargers, and from dismantling a few, many play fast and loose with creepage and other isolation requirements. I don't trust any of them, including Apple, with my life (I won't provide them with a conductive path through my heart should they decide to fail). At best the insulation keeping you from dying is a few thin layers of insulation in the transformer- eg. special wire insulation plus some plastic tape).

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