Earlier this month, Apple announced that it would stop including earbuds and chargers in the box with its iPhone smartphones. Several Android manufacturers raced to mock Apple’s decision on social media, which will look awful when they likely follow suit and remove in-box chargers next year.
Samsung was one such manufacturer, with some of its social media accounts quickly posting about how Galaxy phones include a charging brick.
However, SamMobile spotted reports from Korean media that indicate Samsung could remove the charger from the box of its future phones, such as the recently leaked Galaxy S21 (or perhaps S30, depending on how you think Samsung plans to handle the naming scheme this year). Further, the company will likely continue to not include earbuds in the box, similar to how it did with the Note 20 Ultra this year.
If the rumour proves true, Samsung’s social media trolling may look rather foolish. Still, Samsung arguably handled the removal of earbuds from the Note 20 packaging better than Apple did. Customers could request a pair of earbuds from Samsung if they needed them. It’s not clear if this option was available in Canada, but we’ll update this post once we learn more.
Still, if Samsung does remove the charging brick and chooses not to offer free bricks to those who request them, the company’s approach will likely be easier to stomach than Apple’s. This is mostly because almost every major Android phone has a USB-C port, and on top of that, most offer Qi wireless charging. In other words, most people likely have some form of charger that will work fine with whatever phone they choose to get next, something that isn’t quite true with the iPhone and its proprietary Lightning cable.
Removing chargers to help the environment is the bare minimum these companies can do
Regardless of how it plays out, it’s hard to say what benefits, if any, removing chargers will actually bring.
Apple claimed that doing so would help the environment by reducing waste and environmental impact. For example, no longer including the charger in the box means Apple wouldn’t need to make as many chargers and would use up less natural resources. Another argument the company made was that removing these items allowed it to shrink the packaging, allowing it to ship more iPhones on a pallet, reducing the total number of shipments needed and its carbon footprint.
Most of these claims are easily debunked. For example, Apple still includes a cable in the box, but it’s Lightning to USB-C, which won’t work with most people’s existing iPhone chargers that feature USB-A ports, requiring them to buy new chargers anyway. That’s not to say that Apple’s efforts to help the environment by cutting down on waste are bad. Instead, the effort is misplaced, and there are many other ways the company could actually benefit the environment. Switching the iPhone to USB-C instead of Lightning is one method.
With Android phones, there may be more of an environmental argument since the USB-C charger you currently have will likely work with the USB-C phone you get — in other words, most people legitimately don’t need a new charger.
At the end of the day, there will be people who don’t mind the change — I’m firmly in this camp as, thanks to my job, I have more USB-C chargers than I know what to do with. Others will undoubtedly feel frustrated or ripped off by the lack of charging peripherals in the box. And either way, removing the charger from the box is about the bare minimum any of these companies can do to actually help the environment. It’s a start, but there’s a lot more manufacturers can do to make smartphones more sustainable.