When Apple announced that the iPhone 12 would come in the box without a charger, it came as no surprise to many. The rumors had been going on for months, and Apple’s plan to take both charger and headphones out of the iPhone box would reportedly save the company a lot of shipping emissions and hopefully some e-waste too. It turns out that 2 million tons of carbon are saved every year, just as 450,000 cars are taken off the road. Yet just a few days after the announcement and just a day after the iPhone 12 hit stores, you can’t help but feel like Apple has missed the brand a little with its news of its decision to remove chargers The packaging of the iPhone and the many customers will understandably be deeply frustrated and confused by the situation. In fact, some of them likely already are.
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Committed to the environment
Apple understands that it is committed to reducing its net carbon emissions to zero by 2030 through a combination of cut and offsetting. In the context of Apple’s annual emissions, the savings reportedly made by not shipping chargers and headphones to customers are actually quite high. From Apple:
Apple is also removing the power adapter and EarPods from the iPhone packaging, further reducing CO2 emissions and avoiding the breakdown and use of valuable materials. This enables smaller and lighter packaging and enables 70 percent more boxes to be shipped on a pallet. In total, these changes save more than 2 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, which corresponds to an annual distance of almost 450,000 cars from the road.
2 million tons of emissions saved account for nearly 8 percent of Apple’s annual carbon footprint of 25.1 million tons, 76 percent of which comes from product manufacturing. Apple has significantly reduced its carbon footprint by reducing the size of its iPhone boxes. According to reports, 70% more iPhone boxes are now shipping on a single pallet.
However, that’s not the only change that has been made, as Apple notes:
For the first time, iPhone 12 models will use 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in all magnets, including Apple’s new camera, Taptic Engine, and MagSafe, and MagSafe accessories.
Make no mistake, Apple made some big carbon savings with its iPhone 12. It just seems that several factors are influencing this, not just smaller boxes and less cargo waste.
USB-C, but not USB-C
After the iPhone 12 launched, there was a little talk of two important Apple decisions. First, to use a Lightning connector instead of a USB-C connector on the iPhone, and second, to use a USB-C to Lightning cable instead of a USB-A compatible one. To address the latter first, I leave you to Bryan Wolfe of iMore, who has already addressed this issue:
This is where Apple’s environmental message begins to get mixed up. By shipping a USB-C to Lightning cable with new iPhones, Apple is also encouraging users to embrace new technologies. For some (my illiterate guess would be the biggest) this will inevitably add to the cost of the device.
As mentioned above, if the only Apple device in your house right now is an iPhone 11 or earlier, you can stick with the Lightning to USB cable and 5W power adapter combo and get on with your day. However, it does mean that you don’t have to take advantage of the fast charging technology that can charge your new device to 50% in around 30 minutes. To do this, you’ll need to purchase a 20W USB-C adapter from Apple ($ 19) or a third-party supplier. In other words, if you want to take advantage of this new technology, Apple can capitalize on your new charging needs.
The first edition came as no surprise. Rumors leading up to the iPhone 12 launch were fervently clear that there would be no USB-C iPhone 12, and there are other rumors to suggest that there will never be a USB-C iPhone. But there are already plenty of USB-C chargers out there, and Apple’s other devices like the MacBook and iPad also have USB-C charging ports, making the iPhone a mystery in its lineup.
There are of course counter-arguments for this. As with the switch from 30-pin to Lightning, switching to another new charging standard would render many devices such as docks, adapters and speakers unusable overnight. If rumors of a portable iPhone were true in the next year, it wouldn’t really work, so it makes a lot of sense to make this one change if it were only relevant for a year or two.
However, Apple’s argument in favor of not using chargers is that many of us already have the chargers we need. As Bryan noted above, many Apple users are likely to have USB-A rather than USB-C chargers, making the cable that came with the iPhone 12 useless to many of its users. When you buy the iPhone 12, all you can do is use the included cable next to a USB-C charger, which makes your old USB-A chargers obsolete.
Too many chargers
Apple also added MagSafe, a brand new way to charge your iPhone using a magnetic cable that attaches to the back of your iPhone, much like the Apple Watch. This, of course, is a separate accessory for $ 40. Again, this is not supplied with a charging stone, but with a USB-C cable. So you’ll need to buy a USB-C charger separately if you don’t already have one.
In one move, Apple has told its users that there can’t be a charger as it cuts the cost of e-waste and shipping while introducing a brand new charging standard and range of accessories, all of which add to manufacturing and shipping emissions on Apple’s carbon budget and the consumer cost of the iPhone 12 experience.
Watt goes on
None of this contributes to the fast charging of the iPhone 12 and the various speeds available. As confirmed this week, the iPhone 12 officially doesn’t support fast charging with anything other than the 20W charger. Unofficially, our initial tests revealed that the 18W charger is still pretty fast (if not as fast). However, according to Apple’s official line, you will need to buy a 20W charger from Apple to use an important feature of the iPhone 12 unless You already own the 2020 iPad Air, which has been in stores for eight days.
With the introduction of MagSafe and the need for a 20W charger for quick charging, there are now a bewildering number of combinations that you can use to charge your iPhone 12 either wirelessly, through MagSafe, or through the Lightning connector. Use either a Lightning to USB-A or USB-C cable and any number of adapters, including Apple’s 5W, 18W, or 20W charger, depending on the adapter you choose. The combination you choose has a big impact on whether it takes several hours or minutes to charge your iPhone and how long your phone’s battery will last over its entire life cycle.
Perhaps more choice is good and gives users maximum flexibility in using existing accessories. This can confuse many new and old Apple customers alike.
Confusing, but not a deal breaker
As the headline suggests, I don’t have much of a problem with Apple’s actual decision to remove chargers from the iPhone box. In June I already spoke out fervently in favor of this step and was crucified by the Internet accordingly. However, I think the news about the decision may have been a little clumsy, and for one thing, I really feel for the vast majority of Apple’s regular customers when they try to wade through Lightning, USB-C, MagSafe. 18W, 20W, WiFi, Qi and more to find out what exactly to buy (or not to buy) to make sure you can use your iPhone for more than 15 hours when you get home.
I’m sure Apple has considered the impact of adding a new way to charge your iPhone (MagSafe) to the mix, as well as the cost and environmental impact of making and shipping these new accessories. And I’m happy to stand by Apple’s statement on how much carbon can be saved by shipping iPhones without chargers. But I absolutely sympathize with anyone who is still feeling a bit confused about what Apple is trying to achieve here, or anyone who has had to figure out what chargers they can and can’t use and what they don’t need.It’s especially important to get on with it Remember that the vast majority of Apple customers are not tech-savvy, newest, and biggest fans of the brand like many of us.
I wonder if a lot of Apple customers felt this way when Lightning was first introduced on the iPhone back then, and if a little time to let the dust settle down shows more clearly that Apple might be something here in its day was ahead. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a big change or that customers shouldn’t feel at least a little overwhelmed by the move, even if that’s the best in the long run.
In the meantime, our iPhone 12 charger guide is a great place to start when your all at sea, how to charge your iPhone 12 and what you might need.
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