Versus: For and against Apple's "no charger in the box" plan
Unsurprisingly, opinions varied among members of our team as well, which is why we decided to voice both opinions in our latest Versus. So, what do our representatives of each camp have to say about their side of the coin? Find out below!
Apple might not include a charger in the iPhone 12 box… and that’s fine by me! I don’t care if they throw one inside or not, no matter the price.
Smartphones have been around for a decade and it’s very likely that you have accumulated a sizeable collection of a few wall chargers and tons of USB and Lighting cables. You’ve put them in a bag, or a box, or a drawer, methinks? If you’re a devoted tech enthusiast, you’ve likely upgraded to a capable wireless charger at your bedside a long time ago and hardly ever bother with old-school wires and chargers. Can you identify with that stereotype? Because I certainly can. Do I really need yet another charging brick and a Lightning cable? Absolutely not.
Moreover, I’d rather get no charging brick than receive the same ancient, good-for-nothing 5W charger that was found inside the iPhone 11 box. If I were to buy any version of the iPhone 12, I’d definitely be better off with a faster charger that’s sold separately. It makes way more sense to get a faster charger that’s old separately than rely on the humble 5W brick that Apple would have otherwise put inside the basic iPhone 12 boxes.
The last reason is a trivial but important one: eco-friendliness. I’m not super environmentally conscious, but I try to cut my contribution to pollution that could be avoided, and avoiding e-waste is a small but sensible step to take.
Peter was brief, but I have a bit more to say about the whole charger-in-the-box extravaganza.
The "no one uses the included charger" argument
One of the big reasons the no-charger-in-the-box idea is easy to swallow is that the chargers Apple includes in the box aren’t really good. Besides last year’s Pro models, iPhones were packed with a meager 5W charger for many years, despite the phones themselves supporting fast charging that requires a much powerful charger.
That is simply a slap in the face of iPhone users. A better charger would cost Apple a couple of dollars if that. Motorola phones that cost under $300 come with a 15W charger, but Apple can’t afford to include an 18W charger in the box of its $700 iPhone? Please.
Naturally, many people have gotten used to ignoring the provided iPhone charger altogether, opting instead to use one they bought separately or have from another device. But many are also waiting several hours for their iPhone to charge because the 5W charger is the only one they have and might not even realize they can have a better experience with another.
To solve this problem Apple created itself, it will remove the charger altogether, leaving users to figure out a better solution themselves. Of course, Apple will be happy to provide solutions as well: wireless chargers and powerful wired chargers, all with the appropriate Apple price tags.
The waste argument
This is admittedly a stronger argument but it ties well to what I talked about already. Let me explain what I mean. Smartphone chargers are very durable. Unless you’re actively trying to break them, they’ll likely work perfectly well past the life of the phone they came with. And they’re also quite universal these days, you can use them to charge all sorts of devices. It’s always good to have a charger around, one by the sofa, one by the bed, one at work. I’ve never heard anyone complain about having too many chargers.
However. That’s only valid for chargers you’ll actually use. And as we made it clear, most iPhone chargers aren’t that useful. And Apple sells millions of iPhones every year. So, after it’s been shoving slow chargers in people’s hands for years, it now decides that since they are going to the dump, it might as well save some money and space and skip them altogether.
I have no doubt that having fewer charges to make and smaller iPhone boxes to ship will ultimately save a ton of resources. But it seems like that only becomes an important problem when the solution also conveniently makes Apple more money in the process. Speaking of money...
The greed argument
Although Apple likes to paint itself as a very green company and has indeed achieved a lot in that regard, it still has shareholders to answer to and those aren’t typically known for their care about the environment. They like to see record-breaking profits and high share prices.
The rumor that started it all also stated that Apple will have a new 20W charger that will be sold separately for those that don’t have a drawer full of chargers at home. No price for it yet, but it will undoubtedly cost several times more than its production cost.
AirPods is also rumored to be coming out soon and even the infamous AirPower might finally make an appearance. All three products are meant to fill the void created by Apple, giving a bump to its profit margins in the process.
The bad example argument
What’s perhaps most worrying about this is what’s to follow. Which is likely other companies seeing the decision to remove the charger isn’t hurting Apple and deciding to do the same. In other words: The headphone jack exodus part 2: Charger goes bye-bye.
There’s a big difference between Apple sparing you its 5W charger and OnePlus deciding to not include its awesome 30W Warp charger, for example. And yes, companies are to blame for following Apple, but I’m putting some of that blame on Apple for showing them how to squeeze a few extra dollars from their customers in the first place.