Hoax: You Can’t Charge Your Cell Phone in a Microwave Oven

A hoax claims to quote a Harvard study which allegedly states that you can charge your cell phone in the microwave 15-25 times faster than plugging it into the wall.

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It’s a hoax.

If you place an electronic device in the microwave, it will no longer be operational and could create a fire hazard. It will also likely damage the microwave and emit toxic fumes.

This hoax first appeared in 2013 and resurfaced in September 2014. A similar hoax circulated in 2013 which claimed an iOS update would render phones waterproof. Let’s take a look at examples of each.

2013 Version

The version which circulated in June 2013 included a graphic that read:

Any iPhone can be charged in a microwave oven, 15-25 times faster than the charger that came with it! Try it now:

Step 1: Plug your cable into the phone
Step 2: Put your iPhone in the center of the oven and coil the cable around it.
Step 3: Set the timer on the oven for 10-20 seconds
Step 4: You now have a charged iPhone!

This works because microwaves use the same principles as wireless charging pads, by rearranging the electrons in your iPhone’s battery, to gather at the negative terminal. Remember to leave your cable plugged in!

Source: http://www.harvard.edu/research/04/13/mcharge.asp

iphone-microwave

Note that the Harvard URL (either with a zero or the letter “O” in the url above) does not exist.

Although the graphic cited a Tumblr profile, we couldn’t find this graphic posted by that popular account, so it’s possible someone attributed this “fact” to that account to lend credibility to the claim.

The video below demonstrates what will happen if you place your cell phone in a microwave oven:

2014 Version

With the release of the iPhone 6 and iOS 8, the hoax resurfaced in September 2014. This time, the hoax was named “Wave” which stated that the new Apple products could be charged in a microwave oven.

wave-hoax

Wave is the latest and greatest addition to iOS8. Wave allows your device to be charged wirelessly through microwave frequencies. Wave can be used to quickly charge your device’s battery using any standard household microwave.

The graphic includes a copyright in Apple’s name, and lists times for charging products at 60 or 70 seconds.

It is unclear if any unsuspecting Apple users fell for the 2014 “Wave” variant of the hoax, although some sources have reported this to be the case.

2013 “Waterproof” Version

In September 2013, a similar fake ad was spotted circulating on several social media sites. This claimed than an operating system update would allow the iPhone to become waterproof. The text of this phony advertisement read:

Update to iOS 7 and become waterproof.

In an emergency, a smart-switch will shut off the phone’s power supply and corresponding components to prevent any damage to your iPhone’s delicate circuitry.

fake-ad

The professional-looking ad is believed to have originated from 4chan, a web forum known for internet pranks and memes. According to The Inquirer, a few Twitter users admitted to falling for the prank, with one user writing, “OK whoever said iOS 7 is waterproof GO **** YOURSELF.” Another Tweet stated, “Someone told me to download iOS 7 so my iPhone becomes waterproof. I am now tweeting from my PC.”

Bottom Line

Using a microwave oven on a cell phone will likely destroy your phone and the oven. This hoax has circulated at least twice since 2013. There was also no iOS update which would make iPhones waterproof.

Originally published June 3, 2013.
Updated October 29, 2014

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  • Bob

    But he didn’t leave the cable plugged in. That’s why it didn’t work!

  • FoxConn

    And it’s also not an iPhone. It’s pretty stupid to think one could do that with just a regular cell phone! Only iPhone’s battery is microwave-chargeable.

    • waffles

      Any electronic device placed in a microwave will yield a similar result.

    • stevo

      Why don’t you take a video of you putting your iphone in the microwave!

    • bobby

      Really? Really? Come on dude, i hope that was sarcastic……if not, please explain the scientific reason why a microwave would charge an iphone………it wont. Trust me, im an engineer.

  • Timothy Campbell

    This hoax reminds me of something a friend once told me: “Never tell somebody that it’s impossible to ride a bicycle with each hand on the opposite handlebar grip!”

    “You mean, ride with your arms crossed in front of you?”

    “That’s it. Never, ever tell somebody it’s impossible.”

    “Why not? Is it impossible?”

    “Probably.”

    “So why not tell them?”

    “Because they’ll try it and crash.”

  • Catherine Swinny

    I’m going to try it with my completely dead iphone in a minute it dosent work at all and hasn’t for the past few months and I’ve heard that you can start a fire but ill have a jug of water beside me and ill put in for 15 seconds and see what happens! Fingers crossed – ill video it on my blackberry x

  • dude

    You guys are seriously stupid. It won’t work with any phone. Why do you think you can’t pick up signals that well near a microwave? If it affects your phone just by being near it, it will probably affect it when you nuke it . I really hope your kidding when you say it would have to be an iPhone

  • serena

    You would think if you really wanted to disprove this that you would use the actual instructions. Of course it didn’t work. Nikola Tesla’s theory on electricity used microwaves. I tell you what, I’d rather use the microwave to charge phones than to heat up food. If this did work, at least there would be a legitimate reason to have microwaves in nearly every house.

  • Jack

    Oh I only just read this but I tried it and it worked? Maybe my iPhones just different

  • Demisimpson

    Before reading this I put my blackberry 9900 in the microwave for 2 seconds and while I was on a call to a friend when I got it out it was off and wouldn’t turn on, I took the battery out and it smells really bad like something burning. Help? I swear this is real, don’t call be dumb my friend dared me…….

    • waffles

      Hopefully you have insurance on that phone.

      • Aunt Jamaima

        Insurance on the phone won’t help. Insurance covers accidents not abuse.

  • dave

    putting a phone in to a microwave oven will work but the technology is in infancy, read about inductive charging on Wikipedia first before you try it.

    I’ve got shares in apple inc, this is why I give you the advice.

  • Karla

    I think apple commissioned this hoax to sell more phones

  • chris

    anyone who thinks a microwave will charge your phone should put there head in the microwave it will increase your IQ 20 points