iPhone’s new feature charges phone slowly when the grid uses ‘dirty’ energy like Hwange coal energy

Leonard Sengere Avatar

I do not know where you stand on the whole climate crisis issue. There seem to be two camps and they won’t allow anyone to straddle the line. It’s either the world will end in 2050 or the whole climate crisis story is a hoax. Pick a side.

Now, those on the ‘mother Earth will collapse in a couple of decades if we don’t repent of our ways’ ticket are a bit more persuasive.

By persuasive I of course mean loud. Humans love their peace and if you shout at them and threaten to cancel them if they don’t make the ‘green concessions’ you believe in, they will just do whatever you want.

As a result, we have seen a lot of ‘green pleasing’ going on. Whole countries deliberately weakened their own energy independence to worship at the green altar. We saw this come back to bite some of these countries in the nether regions leading them to turn to ol’ dirty coal like cavemen.

Companies have of course been doing this dance too. Every year you hear these companies talk about how they reduced their carbon footprint or some other green-sounding stuff.

When Samsung launched the S23 earlier this month, they towed the party line and pledged allegiance saying,

Samsung adopting new & sustainable ways of doing business to meet the urgency of climate crisis

Samsung says they incorporated recycled materials in more device components than ever before and also used 100% recycled paper in the packaging material.

You know how the dance goes, some experts tell us just how Samsung’s efforts are not as impressive as they made them out to be. And we sit here trying to pretend we are surprised that a company would exaggerate anything to make themselves look good.

Apple is the king

Apple is gangster, my friend. Those guys know how to use ‘the current thing’ to their financial benefit. Right now, all the rage is sustainability and so you best believe Apple has danced the dance too.

The one that sickens me is the whole missing charger-in-the-box thing. If you have bought a flagship smartphone in the past few years and found no charger in the box you have Apple to thank for that.

The story that Apple went with was that users already had chargers lying about their homes and stuffing new chargers in new iPhones’ boxes was just leading to waste. So good guy Apple, not wanting to see landfills fill up with old iPhone chargers decided to just remove the charger from the box.

They added that because they were removing the charger, they could also make the box smaller. Leading to less cardboard used to package the millions of iPhones they sell every year. It all sounded like the most green thing a company could ever do.

Except it was all about the other green, the greenback. Apple could sell you an iPhone for the same price despite it coming without a charger. If they had lowered the price by the price of a charger then their story could have had teeth.

To make matters worse, they would gladly sell you the charger separately. It would come in its own little box, with its own little plastic wrapping. It wasn’t about the planet my friend.

Clean Energy Charging

This time around, I can’t quite see how they stand to make money from this move directly. Except that it gives them a few green points with the Greta Thunbergs’ of this world. The Gretas are powerful people at the moment so it is wise to appease them whenever you can before they call for a boycott of your company.

The latest gift to the green gods from Apple is clean energy charging. Apparently, the new feature was introduced with iOS 16.1. Here’s what Apple says about it,

…iPhone will try to reduce your carbon footprint by selectively charging when lower carbon emission electricity is available…

This means the iPhone will only charge when the national grid uses clean energy sources like wind and solar.

We know that iPhones charge slowly but users have been complaining that they have been charging even slower only to find that this new clean energy charging was to blame.

Those in the ‘climate crisis my foot’ camp have been annoyed to the bone by this. They are especially incensed by how Apple tries to guilt them into not turning the feature off. At least that’s how they see it. When a user tries to turn clean energy charging off they get the following message,

Clean Energy Charging helps reduce carbon footprint.

Turn Off Until Tomorrow

Turn Off

One user made his thoughts on this known when he said, ‘Thank you. I’d like to leave the biggest footprint possible.’ Another sincere user asked, ‘Is there a way to select “Only coal or diesel generated electricity” if so I would like that please and thank you.’

What a world we live in. Such understanding. Not polarised at all.

Not in Zimbabwe

For now, the feature is a U.S. exclusive. I am running iOS 16.3.1 but there’s no clean energy charging feature on my phone.

They are not going to be able to bring this feature to countries like Zimbabwe. While hydro-electricity is not too bad on the sustainability hierarchy, we also supplement that Kariba electricity with dirty ol’ coal.

As far as I’m aware, we don’t actually get to know where the electricity we’re using is coming from. We just flip the switches on, and cook our potatoes and vegetables, none the wiser about where the electricity we’re consuming is coming from. I’d imagine ZETDC knows but do they disclose this? I don’t know.

Our grid is not smart just yet. Although we are working on it.

So, if Apple cannot know the source of your electricity, clean energy charging cannot work. I hope it stays that way.

Imagine waking up to your phone at 22% because ZETDC fed your neighbourhood some filthy Hwange electricity and your iPhone was like I only eat vegan, I don’t do dinosaur juice. I’d be knocking on Tim Cook’s door demanding a word.

Anyway, that’s the new feature. The latest grandstanding, the latest virtue signalling from Apple. Or maybe it’s the latest in a series of eco-conscious decisions that are saving the planet by the fruit guys? Do let us know what you think in the comments below.

Also read:

New Hwange Unit 7 set to add 300MW to the national grid, time to embrace coal?

Intensive load shedding is imminent as Kariba lake levels are too low to generate electricity

ZETDC installs its first smart meter at Harare Poly. But what is a smart meter anyway?



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  1. D.K.

    Launder the dirty power, even that from Pomona or a generator using used cooking oil as fuel, or Hwange power by charging a power bank. When the power bank is full, completely disconnect the power bank from the power source. With only a charging cable between the phone and power bank the phone won’t see beyond the power bank.

    1. Imwe Mbeu

      😂😂😂 heya

      1. TxRx


    2. Leonard Sengere

      😂😂 Pomona or cooking oil as fuel? I guess the powerbank route in Zimbabwe is not much of a hassle as we already use them.

    3. Thanos

      I love this thinking 👏👏👏👏

    4. Nobert Kazingizi

      Good idea!
      Should work for now.
      But my laptop battery has an I.D chip similar to how a SIM has a line number. Furthermore a sim can store text messages. I can imagine that the I.D chip on my battery could easily have space to store at least one word. Meaning storing the name of the power source etc. In this scenario the powerbank will store the source of the electricity and feed the code to your iPhone.

    5. Ash

      You are one crooked human

  2. yawn .. zzzzz

    yawn ….

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Yo, wake up my friend.

  3. Linux Sudo

    Good for them (Green Apples) , for now my refurbished Vivo is having none of it, the omnivore never minds a universal charger, car charger, ZESA – though this one is gradually becoming like Chimera or Medusa legend.
    I can even boost my battery for quick juice, so thanks for your “clean energy” Mr Tim Cook, I don’t think i need one – for now.🥴

    1. Leonard Sengere

      🤣🤣 Ya’ll are not impressed by his clean energy shenanigans. Feed that omnivore my friend, never you mind what Tim is Cooking in California.

  4. vue.js developer

    I am impressed lol

    1. Leonard Sengere

      You are? I guess if you look at just the idea and execution there is something to be impressed by.

  5. Stop Electron Discrimination

    Well, it’s not as though you can ramp up and down energy production on a whim depending on how many iPhones are on the grid sipping on coal at the moment. If they don’t have a storage solution for that dirty electricity they are ‘saving’, they are actively wasting it, polluting for nothing

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Oh yeah, that’s another way to look at it. If Hwange Unit 7 is running at full throttle if your iPhone decides not to partake, you have not done much to help the situation.

  6. Nitpik

    These woke orgs are full of it. One of the biggest co, in the world reduced to these cheap neo-liberal blame the consumer shenanigans. If they were truly concerned they would stop consuming so many resources without actually offering solutions. I’m certain their value chain uses a truckload of this so called dirty energy. But here they are acting high and mighty in their Palo Alto bubble.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      That’s why it feels like grandstanding. It’s all for the show, there is a lot of hypocrisy. That’s why I hate these first world countries that polluted so badly as to damage the ozone layer back when we were mostly in the dark ages, telling us not to use the same resources they used to build their economies.

  7. The Empress

    Be more Catholic than the Pope. That’s the Apple way.
    The cynical way that Apple twists worthy causes to serve its voracious greed is truly something to behold.
    They created their famous walled to protect their customers from the dangers of the Internet but it is also a way to subtly ensure they never change away from being Apple customers.
    We all know about the chargers, but has anyone ever thought of the headphone jack Apple “Bravely” removed it. But it was all done so they could sell their customers a solution which was wireless ear buds and thus creating a multi billion $ revenue stream. That’s just good business you say,and I totally agree with you but it’s terrible for the Environment they replaced wired earphones which just required a bit of copper and magnets with something that needs a battery containing cobalt, lithium a circuit board with silicon and other stuff and all of it is produced from highly polluting sources.
    They also claim to be the champions of privacy and targeted Facebook, Google, Snapchat and others with measures that limit how much those companies are able to spy on us, but now we find out that Apple also collects the same information that they just denied to those other companies nd rumour has it Apple is actually in the late stages of a secret plan to enter the online advertising business and now it is beginning to look more and more like Apple basically crippled their future competitors in a cynical bid to create space for their product to shine. Whilst pretending to all this for the good of the people.
    This latest stunt is just a way for Apple to deflect attention from the fact that iPhones are notorious for slow charging speeds when compared to android phones some of which cost less than half of the cheapest iPhone.
    Apple could easily solve this issue and more than likely they already have. Say what you want about Apple but there’s no denying that they employ some top notch engineers. The problem is that the solution would reduce the amount of profit Apple makes and raising the selling price of the next iPhone is not possible in the current world economic climate so they decided to avoid and deflect whilst making themselves look good as a bonus..

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Precisely. Apple’s track record shows a company that’s good at spinning BS. They make a profit-driven decision and then sit down to carefully consider how they can convince us it’s for our own good.
      RIP headphone jack for sure. It took ‘courage’ for them to axe the headphone jack and sell expensive airpods. So, customers went from getting headphones in the box to having to shell out over a 10th of the phone’s price in Bluetooth earbuds that as you mentioned, are terrible for the environment.
      The privacy thing is just a Mafia-type kind of move. And you know I’ve heard some say if someone is going to collect their data, they would prefer it be Apple as they don’t trust Google or Facebook. So, their loyalists are even defending them in all this.
      In the end, you gotta hand it to them. They consistently make decisions that are terrible for the consumer and environment but are so good at PR they are lauded as one of the champions of the green revolution.

  8. Ruf

    Alot of apple hate. It’s private sector and just like in zim they after your wallet and kitchen sink.i blame
    The consumer’s they should talk with their feet. I got one cannot cannot contemplate a phone without quick charge and let’s be honest for most of us this is just an app playing machine. There’s no need to spend the extra anymore. Also this wakes garden thing is nonsense. I have a Poco with Tecno ear buds and Huawei watch… Each one has its pros and cons.i stay away from brand loyalty and focus on the features I require

    1. Leonard Sengere

      The whole ‘status’ thing that people still think an iPhone carries is the problem. Of course, their phones are good in their own right but their business practices, especially the refusal to work well with others make them villains in my book. For as long as we keep buying millions of iPhones every year, they will be empowered to keep at it.

  9. FG

    Would be better if you actually did calculations in your article instead of waffling. Honestly, it’s no big deal really just turn it off if you’re annoyed with it. I haven’t bothered to turn it off and nothing happens. I think it’s good that they’re trying to address emissions, but I doubt this will do much.

    Charging a 12 pro max is about 12Wh and assuming you do that once a day it’s about 5kWh a year. On coal that’s about 1kg/kWh so 5kg of CO2 emissions a year. About 300 million iPhones so about 1.5MT of CO2 a year, so about 200K cars which sounds like a lot but emissions from electricity total is 14GT of CO2/year so charging iPhones are like 0.01% of total emissions from electricity. Not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. Heck, not even a lot based on the total cycle of a phone. Most emissions from iPhones are from manufacturing instead of use and given how hostile they are to repair, they should focus on that instead.

    So pretty much greenwashing, like removing the charge box which has a similar impact. Thing is that trying to load shift computing based on the energy grid is a good idea, especially since renewables are variable. Do the heavy computing while and where energy is plenty and reduce usage when it’s low. Think of YouTube encoding videos (the hardest computing) whenever renewables are available and Rey on coal for the less intensive transmission.

    As for trying to convince you to care about climate change, that’ll need a lot of time to explain.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      It’s not really about the fact that you can turn it off. It’s that it really won’t have any meaningful impact but is only designed to paint the company in a good light. Your calculations are excellent. I agree though that this has a better net impact, though tiny, than the charger situation.
      You don’t have to convince me to care about climate change. I do care. I just don’t like the exaggerations. We have models that have predicted gloom for years. They were far off. I know the thinking is that if we paint a terrible picture, it might stir people to action but I don’t like it. In addition to the exaggerations, I don’t like those that want to be patted on the back for doing what doesn’t really move the needle. Greenwashing is ridiculous and I will not celebrate it.

  10. Dennis

    Be a fan of the product not the company

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Good motto to live by.

  11. wangu

    its really nolonger about meeting cliental needs but strategising effectual ways of milking their cash.i think if steve Jobs would ressurrect from the dead he would disapponted by what apple has become

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