The winds of change are blowing. It seems bundled chargers and power adapters with new smartphones could be on the way out. While everyone spent the last few days being critical of Apple after recent reports suggested that the Cupertino based tech company will not ship chargers with the next line-up of iPhones, it seems Apple isn’t alone in pushing for this change. A new report suggests that Samsung will also not include chargers in the box for some of its upcoming Android phones. A report on the Korean site ETNews suggests that Samsung will ditch the chargers from its smartphones starting next year, in what is an attempt to save costs.
It is believed that most users already have the chargers from previous phones still working well. This report comes a few days after Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that Apple may not bundle chargers with the next iPhone line-up. There is also the belief that Apple will phase out the 5W and 18W chargers and instead simplify the line-up to the much faster 20W chargers which will be sold as optional accessories.
For phone makers, it could help reduce costs in a significant way, because they will be saving on one charger and perhaps one charging cable for each phone they manufacture. That number runs into billions of phones shipped every year around the world
Saves on Cost, Saves The Environment
There are reasons why removing the chargers from new smartphone boxes does make a lot of sense. For phone makers, it could help reduce costs in a significant way, because they will be saving on one charger and perhaps one charging cable for each phone they manufacture. That number will run into millions within a few months of launch, particularly for the popular phones. It will also help phone packaging to become smaller and more compact, which is definitely great news for the environment. There will be lesser requirement of packing materials and lesser waste subsequently. For companies, that also saves on shipping costs—smaller packages mean more boxes can be shipped in the same space and price.
The numbers are mind-boggling. According to research firm IDC, smartphone companies shipped as many as 368.8 million smartphones in just Q4 2019. If we are to spread that out through the year, we are looking at well above a billion phones shipped globally in just one year. That means over a billion chargers and over a billion charging cables shipped too. A lot of these smartphones would have been bought by folks who still use the charger from the phone they have just replaced, which means the charger that came with the new phone just sits in the box. Money and resources, financial and environmental, were spent in making it and yet it just sits there. Relaxing. That is the wastage which could well be reduced with what Apple and Samsung are planning. If you need a charger, you buy a charger.
It will also help phone packaging to become smaller and more compact, which is definitely great news for the environment
Moving Towards Charger Standardization
According to the International Telecommunications Union, “One million tons of external power supplies are manufactured each year. This highlights the importance of efforts to reduce the number of such power supplies, and to make them more sustainable.” At the same time, the European Union has been pushing for universal chargers, which will work with all smartphones, in an attempt to standardize the power accessories as well as make them work across the board. In 2018, Apple, Samsung, Google, Motorola and Sony, to name a few, signed up to standardize USB-C standard for smartphone charging by the year 2021.
According to the International Telecommunications Union, “One million tons of external power supplies are manufactured each year. This highlights the importance of efforts to reduce the number of such power supplies, and to make them more sustainable.”
You Need A Charger, You Buy a Charger
The reality is that a lot of chargers sold with new phones do go unused, because users already have the chargers from their previous phone still going strong. At the same time, a lot of users, particularly those who buy flagship phones, tend to buy multi-port fast chargers, multi-port chargers or wireless chargers, often from third-party brands such as AMX Labs, Anker and more.
There are a couple of ways in which phone companies could get consumers on their side in this move towards simplifying smartphone packages. One could be to either offer users free chargers if they need one, particularly with the higher priced phones. Secondly, they could simply bundle gift cards of an equivalent value with phones being sold, and buyers may be able to exchange that for a new charger, if they need one. While the angst against Apple and now perhaps Samsung is understandable, one needs to also factor in the usage trends we have carried on over the years and how that has impacted the environment. A change may be necessary, and this could kickstart exactly that. We will get used to it. Just as we got used to the lack of the 3.5mm headphone jack on most smartphones. Remember, no one is taking away your charger. In fact, this could just widen your choice.