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Opinion: How Smartphone Brands Are Minting Money By Removing Charger from the Box

Lately, Apple decided not to ship the charger and earphones with the new iPhones. While other brands initially mocked the decision, it seems like everyone’s gonna follow suit, starting this year. But how does it affect the consumers? Does it really benefit the environment, or is it just a clever way for brands to charge more? Well, here’s how smartphone brands are minting money by removing charger from the box and why this isn’t the right practice.

Apple’s Decision to Remove Charger from the Box

For starters, the iPhone 12-series and the newer units of iPhone 11, XR, and SE 2020, do not get the charger or earphones with the packaging. The only thing you get with the box is a USB Type-C to Lightning cable.

Apple said this would save the environment and reduce the carbon footprint- fewer accessories, smaller boxes, and lesser packaging. But we already discussed how it was a hypocrite move.

If Apple really cared, it could have used USB-C ports on the iPhones, reducing the need for a separate lightning cable altogether. And instead of removing accessories from the box, it could have offered a discount to people who opted to skip these. This would have been a genuine approach.

Its Influence On Other Brands

In the past, we’ve seen how Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhones and introduced AirPods as a separate accessory. Brands like Google and Samsung mocked this decision, but they eventually did the same with their phones.

Why does it happen? Well, it’s always the “create a problem, sell the solution” strategy. Apple removed the headphone jack to sell AirPods, while some may argue that the giant predicted the forthcoming market.

Android phone makers like Samsung, Google, OnePlus, and more did the same, particularly with their flagship phones. This is because someone buying an already expensive phone is likely to afford a separate accessory which the brand can sell and make money.

The new ‘no charger in the box’ policy reminds me of the same strategy. We already have reports of Samsung and Xiaomi following the trend. And once all dominant brands adopt it, it’ll gradually become an industry-level practice, similar to the headphone jack story.

Does it Really Benefit the Environment?

Smartphone Brands Removing Charger

In the case of iPhones, a person who upgrades to a new iPhone and continues to use the old charger will reduce the e-waste & the overall carbon footprint. But then again, what about first-time iPhone buyers? And what about the ones who’ll be buying the new chargers and earphones anyway?

While Apple at least has an excuse under its sleeves, what about the Android phone makers? We have hundreds of brands making hundreds of phones with different charging specifications. All major OEMs have their own proprietary charging tech.

More importantly, since most people will sell their old phones before upgrading to a new one, won’t the other buyer ask for the phone’s charger and cable? So yeah, even if all brands adapt to the “no charger in the box” policy, most people will still have to buy them separately.

To give you a perspective, the chargers being sold separately will need separate packaging- not only the retail box but also the outer box, followed by logistics. These Chargers will still have to be made by the company and third-party manufacturers to meet customers’ demands.

We won’t get into maths, but the extra packaging and supply chain will definitely add to carbon emissions. This is why this step is not as efficient as the brands try to project with their fancy ‘environment-friendly’ goals.

“No Charger in the Box”- A Policy That Generates Money

Smartphone Brands Making Money by Removing Charger from the Box

Let’s get straight to the point- smartphone brands save a lot of money by removing the charger and other accessories from the box. In fact, selling them separately creates another stream of revenue. So, why isn’t the cost-benefit being passed onto the customers?

For instance, if you buy an iPhone, you’ll have to shell out extra cash to buy a USB-C adapter from a third-party manufacturer or Apple’s own $20 adapter. Buyers who don’t have a charger already will need to spend extra for the essential accessory.

Smartphone Brands Removing Charger

Xiaomi lately announced that Mi 11 would not ship with a charger by default. However, unlike Apple, it gave the option to get one for free, for a limited time. Nevertheless, once the promotion ends, the charger bundle price will be increased.

So, Xiaomi has already joined Apple’s no charger wagon. Meanwhile, there are reports that Samsung will not be including the charger with its upcoming smartphones. The company has already removed the ads mocking Apple’s move- something they did in the past after ditching the headphone jack.

The Better Way

Brands will always have reasons to charge money- they’re businesses, after all. And if one of the market leaders paves the way for a cash minting practice, the others are likely to follow it unless they are determined not to.

Anyway, the smartphone companies need to understand that not everyone has a charger at their home. Plus, people charge multiple devices simultaneously, which isn’t just possible with one charger. We do have an option to buy chargers separately, but won’t it cost extra money and, of course, another chain of packaging and supply?

Well, if a company genuinely needs to save the environment, it can simply provide the no-charger bundle for a discounted price. This will always be the better approach for everyone- the consumers, the brand, and the environment.

That being said, the best solution for the companies would be to agree on a universal plug-in charger for all gadgets, ranging from mobile phones to other accessories.

Wrapping Up

So, what are your thoughts on smartphone brands removing charger from the box and selling them separately? Do you think they genuinely want to save the environment and control carbon emission or want to mint money from consumers? Do let me know your perspective in the comments below.

Also, read- How to Avail Apple Student Discount in India


Ritik Singh

Ritik is the Managing Editor at GadgetsToUse. He manages the website and oversees the content to ensure it's as informative as possible. He also heads the sub-sites in the network. Putting work aside, he has a great interest in personal finance and is also a keen motorcycle enthusiast.