We’re still several months away from Apple’s next iPhone release, but the rumors have already started to appear. Analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo have made an unexpected prediction about this year’s iPhones: they won’t come with charging bricks or earbuds. Apple will have a faster charger for the iPhone 12, but you’ll have to pay extra for it.
For years, Apple has bundled anemic 5-watt power adapters with the iPhone, only recently switching to an 18W adapter for select products that supports USB Power Delivery. The iPhone 11 still has the old 5W charger, but the 11 Pro has an 18W brick. Apple has also made it a point to bundle Lightning earbuds ever since it dropped the headphone jack. Kuo says the new iPhones will cost more to manufacture because of the addition of 5G. However, dropping these accessories will help keep prices steady for consumers. Analysts at Barclays contend there will still be a USB cable, which will allow you to connect the phone to a computer or use another adapter.
It might seem shortsighted to remove accessories from a high-end phone, but they’re only worth including if most people are using them. Otherwise, it’s just more e-waste. There absolutely are people who rely on the included accessories, but they’re usually the ones buying less expensive devices like the iPhone SE 2. Most people who are buying a $1,000 iPhone already have higher quality wired or wireless earbuds, so those will probably just sit in the box. Likewise, these people have multiple chargers around the house from past phone purchases. The included Lightning to USB-C cable can also plug into third-party adapters and fast-charge the phone.
This could be a win-win. The number of people negatively impacted by this move will be small, and it helps Apple keep prices down. Kuo says that Apple will make a new 20W power adapter as an add-on purchase — photos claiming to show this accessory have already leaked. We don’t know how much this adapter will cost, but you’ll probably be able to get a cheaper third-party plug if you don’t already have a box of them at home.
You’ll also be able to buy EarPods from Apple if you don’t have headphones, but the company would probably prefer you dropped the cash on AirPods. That’s probably what some people will do when faced with the barren iPhone 12 packaging. While there’s a definite financial incentive for Apple to stop including all the extras with its phones, it will probably lean heavily on the environmental advantages to justify the move.
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