Dear smartphone brands, could you charge less for charger-less phones?
Adapt bills for the absence of adapters!
- It is not just Apple. Recent trends indicate that Android phone manufacturers too are thinking of ditching the power adapter.
- And that is great for the environment. But with smaller boxes and fewer accessories, the phones should now come with lower price tags too.
- Or are the consumers supposed to pay a premium for the brands’ commitment to the environment?
We should have seen it coming. Apple did something. Other brands made fun of it. And then proceeded to do exactly the same. We saw it happen with the removal of the audio jack and the notch. And now we are seeing it again.
A few months ago, Apple launched the iPhone 12 series. While the number of phones exceeded expectations (four!), something that we mostly took for granted went missing from the package. Apple this year announced that it will not be bundling the new iPhones with power adaptors and earbuds which means the only accessory an iPhone will now come with is a USB Type-C to Lightning cable.
The reason? To make the iPhones more environment friendly and to reduce the company’s overall carbon footprint. So, if anyone needed an adapter or earbuds with their newly bought iPhone, they would have to purchase them additionally.
The charge of the charger-less brigade?
It was not a move that went down well with many people. And as always, the brand’s competitors made fun of Apple’s move.
— Xiaomi (@Xiaomi) October 14, 2020
And of course, they now are proceeding to do likewise.
Recently Xiaomi launched the Mi 11 in China. It launched two packages of the Mi 11, one with an adapter and one without. Both came with the same price tag (for the initial sale, at least) with the customers having a choice to opt for either one. Similarly, after taking the mickey out of Apple for leaving the adapters and earbuds out of the box, the market is flooded with leaks and rumors that Samsung might even join the adapter-less bandwagon next year. It has removed all the ads mocking Apple for its charger-less adventure, after all.
Benefiting the environment…yes, but by how much?
Now, we are all for brands taking responsibility for their actions and have often lauded Apple for its efforts in the field of reselling, refurbishing, and recycling their products. It is a brand that has shown initiative in a direction that anyone seldom speaks of and we respect it for that. And it is great to see that other brands are also getting influenced by it. Let’s get that clear.
Having said that, some parts of this charger-ditching move do not sit very well with us for a few very simple reasons. These brands have or are planning to make smartphone packages that will come without adapters and are doing so in the name of becoming more environment-friendly – hey, smaller boxes, lesser packaging. But we have one simple question: the people who would want to or would need to buy new adaptors will obviously buy them in packages, won’t they? Which means more packaging will be used to pack a separate device? And obviously, with no chargers in the box, the sales of chargers themselves will go up. Resulting in even more packaging! We do not know the exact material math, but while removing the charger might result in smaller phone packages, it will certainly result in more power adapter packaging! And as far as we know, power adaptor packaging is wasteful too.
Yes, we understand that not every person buying a phone might need to buy a separate adapter but even if half the people buying a new smartphone need one, this move will not be as environment friendly as brands are making it out to be.
And why is the consumer being billed for it?? Packaging waste is not the only issue here. Excluding accessories like adapters and earbuds from a smartphone box would save these brands a lot of big bucks, both on the packaging and hardware front. And if these corporates are going to save money on the usual cost of a smartphone, why not pass some of that benefit down to the consumers?
To know that both Apple and Xiaomi have not really provided the users with a discount for taking an adapter-less smartphone does not really make sense. They are basically charging you the same and are providing you with less. While Xiaomi is at least presenting its (potential) users with a choice by offering the same product at the same price with or without an adapter (although we think the absence of an adapter should invite some discount), Apple has not even done that. The brand simply expects you to pay up the same amount for a box that is missing out on two pretty useful pieces of hardware.
We know that this concept of devices not coming with only cables is nothing new. Plenty of gadgets come with just cables like the Kindle e-book readers, Bluetooth earphones/ earbuds/headphones, and smartbands (well, even the original Moto G came without an adaptor internationally, although they bundled one in the box for India). But that does not mean that they cannot work without them. Yes, many of us have power adapters already, but then, they often are used for other gadgets – ask anyone the headache of having just one charger to charge multiple devices! Yes, we can always buy more adapters, but hey, power adapters cost money (and generate packaging waste).
So dear brands, if you want to make this a charger-less phone world, at least charge less. The environment AND your consumers will be really thankful.