When news broke last week that the iPhone 12 might come without a charger in the box – the Android fanboy in me was smiling from ear to ear man! My immediate reaction was “Apple is anti-consumer so no surprise there.”
You can therefore imagine my face when Samsung (which happens to be my brand of choice) also became rumoured to be planning on shipping phones without a charger in the box next year. After rolling my eyes for what seems like an eternity I decided to try and understand what these companies are going for with this move.
The immediate positive that I hope will materialise out of this move are cheaper phones. For iPhones, the price of a charger might not constitute much of the retail price consumers pay so it might not be as big a deal here. But it’s also worth considering that Apple is also rumoured to be removing earphones from the retail box as well so maybe there will be a price cut.
For Samsung however it’s not clear if its the premium devices or the entry level devices that will be coming without a charger. If it’s the lower priced devices it could make the devices cheaper. A $5-$10 discount on a phone in the $100-$150 range is a welcome cut.
For Android phones the blow will probably be softer since more people have Android devices (in Africa at least) meaning a phone without a charger is less of a deterant since you might already have another charger lying around.
The issue of chargers has been topical for a while now. Last year the EU proposed that phone chargers be standardised – meaning one charger that is compatible with all phones being produced. This makes sense because when you switch from your iPhone to an Android device the charger goes to waste.
In fact, the EU has long been a proponent that chargers should be bought separately from the phone and a standard charging type would make that more attractive.
For the environmental nuts, this also means that there will be less pollution as less chargers in circulation means less chargers eventually being disposed of. It’s an Eco-friendly move.
The phone buying experience will now come with a bit more friction since you have to buy a charger separately. Tech-savvy consumers won’t be affected but those who aren’t might potentially end up buying a wrong charger if they have to buy the charger separately. This is especially likely since we are transitioning from USB-A to USB-C so consumers will need to get familiar with those new standards as well.
After looking at the pros and cons and the kicking in of my Samsung bias, I would say it’s not that big of a deal if phones don’t come with a charger in the box? You feel different? Convince me in the comments.