WWDC – The Apple Worldwide Developer Conference. Home of the latest, greatest and upcoming features developers need to know in the next release of Apple’s software offerings. Alongside this conference, leaks of the next iteration of devices are commonplace.
This year, media was buzzing with an apparent leak by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who stated that the iPhone 12 would no longer ship with earphones or a power adapter in the box. Other phone manufacturers such as Samsung have soon followed suit.
Such a leak comes against previous comments made by “Mr White” on Twitter that the phone would come with a 20-watt charger – presumably to enable faster “fast charging”
The 20W charger bares the model number A2305. A charger with the same model number has been certified in Norway by Norges Elektriske Materiellkontroll. A second charger with the model number A2247 has been certified for use in Australia.
It seems this 20W charger is destined for our devices.
So why the apparent shift?
The decision to not include one seems to be based on the fact that most users already have a method of charging their device. When was the last time you charged your phone using the charger it came with? Indeed, as Apple is forced to adopt the USB-C standard across its devices consumers have more choice and availability in ways to charge their devices.
But I feel there is more to this move.
As a lecturer teaching professional practises in engineering, I teach my students the importance of ethics. As a member of the Institute of Engineers Australia our code of ethics requires all engineers to “Promote Sustainability”. Indeed, we are required to not only “balance the needs of the present with the needs of the future” but to also “practise engineering to foster the health, safety and wellbeing of the community and environment.” I believe this is exactly what Apple is doing.
By no longer shipping chargers, Apple would be making a conscious move to reduce electronic waste.
But, it might not be this environmentally-conscious reason Apple is making this move.
Increasingly, Apple is being forced to adopt standardisation across it’s products. This includes a push by the European Union to create a standard smartphone charger. By no longer including a charger in the box, Apple and other companies may, in effect, be bypassing this requirement.
It is apparent many can see the environmental benefit in not including a charger. After all, how many of these old wall warts are lying around our homes now? However, consumers are responding by demanding a suitable value trade-off.
Indeed, many will be happy to purchase a charger should they need it (what other option do you have) but, they don’t want to see exorbitant prices attached.
Here we encounter another problem. Many do not understand how sophisticated modern chargers genuinely are. As a result, many may cheapen out and buy chargers that are simply unsafe and not fit for purpose.
Kev Sherrif did a great tear down a few years back highlighting this problem by analysing iPad Chargers.
As an electrical engineer, the Apple-branded chargers are a feat of engineering with many additional safety features that are not obvious. The cost is justified. Many consumers might not understand this. Fake chargers have been known to catch fire due to lack of safety features.
As Apple and Samsung move away from including chargers in the box, consumers need to be aware of the risk involved in using counterfeit and cheap products to charge their devices.
While it is environmentally conscious to not include chargers in the box the decision many cause more problems than the environmental one it aims to solve.