Apple’s decision to no longer include a power adapter or EarPods with the iPhone 12 has caused confusion and frustration for some customers. This controversial move marks a significant change in what’s included with a new iPhone purchase.
In the past, a charger and EarPods were considered standard accessories that came with every new iPhone. The sudden removal of these items seems like a step backward and has left some users wondering if it’s simply an attempt by Apple to increase profits.
However, Apple has presented several reasons for this change that are worth examining in more detail. Looking at the potential motivations and rationale behind the decision provides helpful context. While the choice ultimately may not align with every customer’s preferences and needs, understanding Apple’s goals and incentives can make their actions more clear.
Why Did Apple Remove the Charger and EarPods?
According to Apple, there were four primary considerations that drove the decision to stop including chargers and EarPods with iPhones:
Apple cites reducing environmental impact as a key part of the decision. They estimate that not including these accessories with every iPhone will reduce carbon emissions by 2 million metric tons per year. That’s equivalent to removing nearly 450,000 cars from the road annually.
Given Apple’s public commitment to making its products and supply chain more sustainable, this move aligns with those goals. Less materials and smaller packaging from millions of iPhones adds up to significantly lower carbon output.
While less discussed, reduced costs also likely factored into removing chargers and EarPods from the box. Analysts estimate this could save Apple up to $35 per iPhone. For a company that sells tens of millions of iPhones per year, those cost savings quickly add up.
Streamlining what’s included allows Apple to reinvest those funds into innovation or keep iPhone pricing steady despite other rising costs. Either way, a positive impact on the bottom line appears part of the equation.
Encouraging Wireless Transition
Another goal cited by Apple is speeding up the transition to wireless charging. They claim their ultimate vision is for a completely port-free and button-free iPhone design. Removing wired EarPods and the charging brick nudges users towards wireless headphones and chargers.
While a noble long-term aim, some criticize this as trying to force the transition before wireless charging technology is ready for prime time. But Apple likely sees ditching legacy wired tech as necessary to push forward adoption.
With over 700 million active iPhones in the world, Apple also argues minimizing e-waste is crucial. Since many customers already have spare chargers and headphones, including more with each iPhone is wasteful.
They estimate that only including these accessories when needed can cut over 50% of the material e-waste from iPhones. As e-waste piles up in landfills and pollutes the environment, eliminating any unnecessary products is positive.
Do Customers Already Have Enough Chargers and Earphones?
A key part of Apple’s rationale is that most iPhone owners already have extra chargers, headphones, or wireless equivalents they can use. However, some question whether this assumption is valid.
Surveys indicate that anywhere from 25-50% of iPhone buyers are first-time users or upgrading from a very old model. These customers may not already own a spare Apple charger or Lighting cable suitable for the latest iPhones.
Additionally, EarPods that come with iPhones are still wired. Someone transitioning from an older iPhone could have their existing EarPods wear out, requiring a replacement. For these users, excluding headphones presents an unnecessary cost.
At the same time, millions of customers undoubtedly do have extra accessories that will work fine. And for those needing new equipment, affordable options exist like third-party chargers and headphones. So while the assumption isn’t universally valid, it applies reasonably well to a significant portion of buyers.
Are There Other Motivations for Apple?
While Apple publicly emphasizes environmental impact and reducing waste, some speculate profit is a hidden motivator:
Charging Premium Prices for Accessories
Apple charges premium prices for their first-party chargers and headphones like AirPods. Not including these accessories means more customers may buy them separately at higher profit margins for Apple rather than lower-cost third party options. However, their accessory pricing has remained consistent for years and isn’t impacted by this iPhone decision.
Increasing iPhone Sales Revenue
Without the value of bundled chargers and earphones, the effective price paid for just the iPhone itself increases. This bumps up Apple’s reported iPhone revenue. However, the difference is relatively small and an indirect accounting byproduct rather than iPhone pricing changing significantly.
Making the iPhone 12 Box and Package Smaller
A smaller box and packaging design saves Apple money in materials and shipping costs. But the difference is minor – existing iPhone packaging has ample empty space that removing accessories doesn’t drastically shrink. Any savings or revenue boost is likely negligible and not a primary goal.
While the cynic’s view assumes greedy intentions, Apple’s stated aims appear sincere. The change ultimately saves costs but doesn’t dramatically increase profits. However, the transition could have been handled better.
How Could Apple Have Handled This Transition Better?
Despite good intentions, Apple’s removal of chargers and earphones has clearly inconvenienced and annoyed some customers. While Apple can’t please everyone, they could have implemented the change with more care and planning:
– Gradually phase out over 2-3 years vs. abruptly removing
– Lower prices of 1st party accessories like chargers and AirPods to offset change
– Offer discounts on wireless chargers and headphones for new iPhone buyers
– Provide option to include charger/EarPods for small fee with iPhone order
– Better communicate rationale pre-launch to soften frustration
– Be more flexible with returns/exchanges for those caught by surprise
Rushing the change without warning left buyers upset. A transition period with deals on accessories and options to still receive the legacy pieces would have eased the adjustment.
Does the Lack of Charger Affect iPhone Performance or Function?
Importantly, not including a wall charger or earphones with new iPhones has no impact on the device’s performance, charging speeds, or capabilities. The iPhone 12 functions identically to previous models.
The key considerations are:
You’ll Need to Supply Your Own Charger
The iPhone 12 still requires a Lightning cable for wired charging. So you’ll need to already have a compatible wall adapter or purchase one separately. Any Apple USB power adapter will charge the iPhone 12 normally.
Wireless Charging Works the Same
If using wireless charging, the iPhone 12 charges just as fast and efficiently without the now-excluded wall adapter. All Qi-compatible wireless chargers will power the iPhone 12.
Alternative Headphones are Required
You’ll either need a headset you already own, wireless earbuds like AirPods, or buy new wired EarPods separately. The iPhone 12 will work normally with any headphones.
Everything Else is Identical
Aside from supplying your own charging equipment and headphones, the in-box experience is otherwise the same. You still get the iPhone, Lightning to USB-C cable, quick start guides, and other standard documentation. The device itself functions exactly like an iPhone 12 bundled with a charger and earphones.
So for actual iPhone usage, charging, battery life, and performance, the lack of accessories makes no difference. The device’s capabilities are unchanged.
Does This Decision Set a Precedent for Other Apple Products?
The iPhone 12 is not the first Apple product to ship without a charger. Apple Watch has omitted one since the beginning. They’ve also previously removed chargers for iPods and some iPad models when battery life was sufficient.
However, this does mark the first time a new iPhone model has shipped without included charging equipment.
Does it mean future iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and other Apple products will follow suit? Here are some predictions:
Future iPhones – Very Likely
All signs point to excluding the power adapter and earphones becoming the new normal for iPhones. Unless public response forces a reversal, expect all new iPhone models to forego these accessories.
iPads – Likely for Higher-End Models
The iPad Pro removed its wall charger starting in 2020. As Apple pushes iPads as PC replacements and their batteries improve, higher-end models ditching accessories makes sense following the iPhone’s lead.
MacBooks – Unlikely for Now
While improving battery life means MacBooks technically don’t need bundled chargers, their higher prices and status as primary computers make removing accessories risky. Perhaps in the far future but unlikely in the next 3-5 years.
Apple Watch – Already Removed
Don’t expect Apple to backtrack and add a charger to Apple Watch. It has never come with one and that won’t change.
AirPods & Accessories – Possible
AirPods and Beats headphones could potentially shift to no included charging cables or adapters. As with iPhones, Apple will claim most users have spares already.
Overall, the iPhone 12 charger-less trend is most likely to expand to other mobile Apple devices first. Macs should be safe for the foreseeable future.
Should You Buy the iPhone 12 Without a Charger in the Box?
The lack of accessories is an inconvenient annoyance for customers. However, it likely shouldn’t be the deciding factor when considering the iPhone 12. Here’s guidance on whether it’s still worth buying:
If you’re upgrading from an iPhone…
Upgrading from any iPhone 6 or later, you almost certainly already have a compatible wired charger and Lightning cable you can keep using. You won’t notice a difference.
Consider wireless charging or new headphones only if your existing ones no longer meet your needs or are worn out. Don’t feel forced into unnecessary purchases.
If you’re switching from Android…
You’ll need to purchase a compatible wall adapter, but affordable options are plentiful. You may also want to grab a charging stand for wireless charging convenience.
Lack of earphones is easily remedied with your existing headphones, third-party earbuds, or Apple’s wireless AirPods if you want seamless functionality.
If it’s your first ever smartphone…
As a new user, having to buy charging equipment separately is annoying upfront cost. Consider Apple’s MagSafe charging bundle for effortless wireless charging. Third party wall adapters also work fine.
For earphones, inexpensive wired ones are fine, but AirPods deliver the best Apple experience if in your budget. The extra initial accessory costs shouldn’t deter you from the iPhone 12. It’s worth it.
If you just want the latest and greatest…
If you upgrade your iPhone annually regardless, this change won’t stop you. Your existing chargers and headphones work fine. The iPhone 12 is a stellar device that’s still very much worth owning even without the accessories.
Apple deciding not to include a power adapter or earphones with the iPhone 12 anymore received some reasonable criticism and complaints. Many customers feel it’s a thinly-veiled money grab that makes the out-of-box experience worse rather than a pure environmental consideration.
However, Apple seems committed to gradually transitioning its entire product line to be port-free and wireless. The environmental benefits are also substantial despite drawbacks for some users in the near term.
The iPhone 12 itself remains an incredible device. If buying on upgrade cycles, switching from Android, or a new user, don’t let the missing accessories deter you. While the unboxing isn’t as premium, the iPhone 12 experience otherwise outshines its predecessors. With some affordable dongle and headphone purchases, you’ll be all set.
This will likely set a precedent for future iPhones and other Apple mobile devices to exclude chargers and earphones moving forward. But the lack of accessories presents more of a temporary annoyance than deal-breaking issue. Apple still produces best-in-class devices that justify their premium price tags. You just may need to supply some of your own complementary gear for the complete experience.