As much as we loved
appreciated the Galaxy Note 20
and especially the Note 20 Ultra
in our in-depth reviews a couple of months ago, Samsung made a number of dubious choices for its latest S Pen-wielding high-end devices that caused a bit of an uproar among the company's core fanbase.
While the plastic build and traditional 60Hz display of the "regular" 6.7-inch variant attracted a lot of negative attention before the Note 20 was even made official, potential US-based buyers of both the smaller model and the 6.9-inch Note 20 Ultra redirected their annoyance towards a bizarre retail box omission
shortly after the two phones were unveiled.
Unlike in many other countries around the world, the Galaxy Note 20
and Note 20 Ultra came without wired headphones bundled as standard stateside, foreshadowing a long-rumored Apple move that commercially materialized with the iPhone 12 launch
earlier this month. But the Cupertino-based tech giant went one step further
in its alleged fight against pollution, and alas, it seems more and more likely that Samsung
will follow suit sooner or later.
No power brick included with Galaxy S21-series devices?
As if there weren't already plenty of reasons to be cautious
about the S21 family's X factor, unnamed "industry" sources quoted by Korean media
) now claim Samsung is "considering excluding basic bundled earphones and chargers" from the standard retail package of its "next big thing."
At the very least, it sounds like the 5G-enabled Galaxy S21
, and S21 Ultra
will almost certainly be shipped without headphones in Samsung's homeland in addition to the US, which probably means the controversial box exclusion is set to go global as early as February 2021
The Note 20 Ultra doesn't come with headphones out of the box stateside
It remains to be seen if the company will retain and expand its US-only Note 20 policy worldwide for the Galaxy S21 (S30)
lineup so that anyone who wants a complimentary pair of USB-C AKG earbuds can get one simply by asking. That feels like a potentially huge waste of time on the part of both consumers and customer care reps, not to mention the frustration such a decision might cause to buyers unaware of the policy.
As far as the charger goes, it doesn't sound like Samsung's mind is made up just yet, which means S21-series phones could still include a basic travel adapter before the company gets a chance to properly analyze the long-term consumer reaction to Apple shipping the iPhone 12
with nothing but a Lighting to USB-C cable in the box. In other words, it's probably only a matter of time until Galaxy flagships will indeed be sold without earbuds or a charger around the world.
Protect the environment or protect the bottom line?
If you've been living under an (eco-friendly) rock for the last couple of weeks and thus missed Apple's environmental iPhone 12 marketing pitch
, you should know the company justified its decision to ditch the aforementioned "basic" accessories on ecological grounds.
The newest iPhones are purportedly "lighter on the planet right out of the box", contributing to Apple's mission to make all of its products carbon neutral by 2030. But while the tech giant claims the iPhone 12 changes will cut more than 2 million metric tons of carbon annually when taken "all together", representing the equivalent of removing 450,000 cars from roads every year, multiple analysts have warned of unintended negative consequences that could well cancel out the positive impact of the new devices on the environment.
Namely, a lot of people will still need wired headphones and/or chargers for their iPhone 12, which Apple is selling and packaging separately, thus generating unnecessary waste and transport emissions. That brings us to what many consider to be the real reason behind these omissions - profit. We're talking production costs saved by shipping new phones in leaner and "cleaner" boxes, extra profit generated by selling the most essential accessories separately, and possibly, extra profit by boosting the sales numbers of wireless earbuds
The Galaxy S20 includes both wired headphones and a 25W power brick as standard
Unlike the iPhone 11
, which included a slow and undoubtedly cheap-to-produce 5W power adapter in its retail box, the Galaxy S20
came with a 25W charger as standard. Eliminating that from the S21 equation would certainly save the company a lot of moolah in the grand scheme of things, but Samsung may also want to think of the possible ensuing customer anger and social media ridicule after recently taunting Apple for this exact same call