It’s not surprising for Apple to remove certain features from their devices or charge a ridiculous price for their products. But in late June, 2020, Apple leaks have confirmed the upcoming iPhone 12 will not ship with a charging adapter or EarPods.
This isn’t like the removal of the headphone jack from Apple devices in 2016--this is more controversial than that. Ultimately, this will provide a huge benefit for the environment, and there are reasons to support why this was the right decision.
Of course, coming from Apple, this decision was expected to happen sooner rather than later, as Apple have been striving to create a portless iPhone sometime in the future. This was just one step they needed to take in order to get closer to their goal, albeit controversial. The headphone jack wasn’t a big feature on their smartphones, so its removal from the iPhone 7 and all future iPhones became less of an issue when people were able to get an adapter to use their EarPods and/or get Apple’s AirPods for wireless Bluetooth connection.
This time, Apple is removing a necessary component of their smartphones. It is nearly impossible to consistently use and charge an iPhone with just a Lightning cable on a day-to-day basis (though USB-C is likely going to be on the iPhone 12), unless one has a USB wall outlet at home. That still doesn’t solve any problems, since those are a hassle to install manually.
So, the question is, why did Apple decide to remove a major accessory people are essentially required to use?
Currently, with no speculation from Apple, the answer to this question is not certain. (The information was leaked by Ming-Chi Kuo, one of the most reliable and accurate sources for information about Apple’s future plans.) Essentially, with less accessories being produced and sold alongside the upcoming iPhones, there will be much less e-waste. According to Arun Maini from the YouTube channel “Mrwhosetheboss”, Apple has about 66% of all profits with only 20% of people in the world using iPhones. So, if only a small percentage of the human population are going to buy one of the new 2020 iPhones, is the reduction in e-waste worth the annoyance of having to find an older charging adapter or buy one separately?
On paper, it doesn’t look like a worthy trade-off. However, one thing needs to be considered: In the tech industry, specifically smartphones, Android manufacturers see Apple as a role model, and usually implement Apple’s “odd” decisions into their own devices. There are several examples of this, most notably the headphone jack’s removal from nearly every Android flagship. So, Android smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, OnePlus, Oppo, etc. are likely to follow Apple’s footsteps and remove the charging adapter from their smartphone boxes sometime in the future, thus reducing even more e-waste.
On the other hand, people say the removal of these accessories from smartphone purchases will not have a worthy impact on the amount of e-waste, because most people don’t throw their chargers away in the first place. They also say Apple is being greedy and are only doing this to save money, as they likely will still charge full price for their upcoming iPhones even though it doesn’t have accessories. Tech reviewer Marques Brownlee released a YouTube video about the removal of these accessories and why Apple’s decisions were justified (and not an excuse for them to gain an even bigger profit). In the video, he said people who want/need the charger should be able to order the charger at a discount with their phone, since the charger Apple sells is a very basic 5 watt charger and people who already have a charger don’t need another, especially if it’s inferior to the one they already have. He also refers back to the CEO of Anker’s words by saying it will still save a significant amount of e-waste, at least enough that it will be a huge benefit for the environment. Brownlee’s ideas have a possibility of being implemented by Apple simply due to how beneficial it is for everyone buying a 2020 iPhone.
After reading all of this, you may be wondering: Why should I care? Why do I need to know about Apple’s decisions? Well, you need to understand this: Apple’s decisions are going to affect you. You will be affected by these decisions in the future because you are going to purchase a new smartphone. You may have to deal with the annoyance of using your old and worn out charging adapter, or simply not having any earbuds if you don’t already have a pair. But most importantly, you will understand how the decrease in e-waste throughout the world will be absolutely worth it.
Bohn, Dieter. “Apple Might Not Include a Charger with the iPhone 12. Good.” The Verge, The Verge, 30 June 2020, www.theverge.com/2020/6/30/21307463/apple-iphone-12-power-adapter-charger-rumor-usb-c.
Mayo, Benjamin. “Kuo: Apple Will Not Include Earbuds or Charger in iPhone 12 Box.” 9to5Mac, 29 June 2020, 9to5mac.com/2020/06/28/iphone-12-no-earbuds-power-adapter/.
“On the iPhone 12 With No Charger…” YouTube, uploaded by Marques Brownlee, 1 July 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IB7JcKJEeI
“The Apple Master Plan.” YouTube, uploaded by Mrwhosetheboss, 11 July 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYPaso1zHow