Are we entering the world of compulsory additional payments to get a charger? After Apple eliminating the chargers in all of their Apple Watch and iPhone boxes, we got another blow as Samsung is doing the same this year.
Yes, it’s just two companies, but these are the major smartphone companies in the world. Moreover, the years have shown that where Apple leads, the others will mostly follow. Remember the earphone jack? Most phones used to have one of those once upon a time. Are we on the brink of a time when we can say the same about the in-box chargers? It would seem so.
Now Apple explains this decision being drawn by care about the environment. That’s valid, considering that the chargers for electronic devices generate 51,000 tons of waste per year, according to the EU estimates. That’s huge, though understandably, this is not limited to the smartphone chargers. Add to this the fact that Apple's packaging plastic footprint in 2018 was 19,000 tons, and you get an idea where this comes from.
But is this the only, or even the main reason for this elimination? Hardly. Why? Well, suppose they would focus on being more environmentally friendly. In that case, they could and should embrace the universal charger idea and ditch the lightning port, and accept the common QI charging standard for the Apple Watch. Or better still, allow charging all their devices through the generic third-party high wattage power adapters we use for any other device. Oh, and allow changing batteries when they’re dead instead of buying a new iPhone.
We should consider that no previous iPhone charger can be useful for the new iPhone; they’ve been insufficient for several years now, to be honest. 5W is simply not enough anymore. Yet, we’ve been getting them in the box again and again. In this light, Apple eliminating the not-so-good charger from the kit and not giving a free charging option does not seem to be a “going green” solution. Add to this that previous iPhones had a Lightning to USB-A cable with them, while the iPhone 12 has a Lightning to USB-C cable.
Consequently, even if we bought a better charger previously, we would most likely get one with a USB-A port, not a USB-C one, to use the cable that came with the phone. What do we do now? Use the old cord with our new iPhone, I suppose.
Is this tendency all negative? No, of course not. Having some requirements fulfilled, not having a new charger unit with every single device we buy is positive in many ways. Starting with not cluttering our spaces, ending with less e-waste (if we take a selfish approach), there are dozens of pros.
The hope is there will come a day when companies will cease hunting for more and let us use one-for-all solutions. We might as well call this a dream for now. Especially when talking about Apple. I have no problem with my Android devices in this regard. There is some difference between the new and older models, but that’s not a big deal.
Is taking out the in-box charger good for the environment? The general answer is yes. Is just that one action enough? No, you have to make sure the customer does not need to buy the charger separately. Will we see a positive impact from the move? Maybe a little. Will this cause more people to consider the environmental factor when making a buying decision? Hardly, most will just look at the surface level: they say environmentally friendly, that’s all we need to know.
Would companies make arguable choices if each of them would decrease their customers significantly? No, they would not. Is it the case? Nope, most people just don’t care. Most of those attacking Apple today on the web will buy the next iPhone all the same. So, these companies can do whatever they want. There’s nothing to stop them.
To wrap up, let’s settle on that having no charger with every device we get is good, but there’s more action to be taken to make that effective.