A new iPhone rumor made the rounds this weekend, and it wasn’t about the notch or the flat edges, or the size of the displays. This one’s about what’s in the box. Or rather, what’s not in it.
Respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has seemingly confirmed an earlier report by Barclays that Apple won’t be supplying a charger in the iPhone 12 box. Like none at all. Not even the lame 5W adapter that takes more than an hour to provide a decent charge.
Not since Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 has there been a rumor with more (as Apple might describe it) “courage.” It’s unclear whether Kuo is talking about the whole iPhone 12 lineup or just the entry-level models, but his sources expect Apple to ship some new models this fall without a charger.
That’s not cool. Granted, nearly everyone has an old charger lying around, and anyone who has ever owned an iPhone or an iPad has a charger in a drawer somewhere. But when you buy an electronic device, whether it’s an iPhone, a Nintendo Switch, or a MacBook, you expect to have everything you need to use it. Apple can spin it all they want—but people will have a right to be upset.
Apple has long used its iPhone chargers to save a few bucks. While every other phone maker has shipped its phones with fast-charging adapters, Apple only just started including an 18W charger with the iPhone 11 box, and even then, only with the Pro models. The $699 iPhone 11 still has the same 5W charger as the original iPhone.
But we expected Apple to expand in-box fast charging to all iPhone 12 models, especially with battery-sucking 5G on board. The math works: Apple charges $19 for its 5W charger and $29 for its 18W one, and the USB-C cable that’s required to fast charge costs the same as the USB-A one ($19). And the benefit for the user is huge. Now we might not get anything.
Apple wants to sell the iPhone 12 at a similar price point to the iPhone 11, and 5G and OLED, which are rumored to be coming to all models, aren’t cheap. So something has to give. Dumping the charger might only bring a few bucks in savings for Apple, but those dollars add up when you’re selling tens of millions of devices every quarter.
Still though, it would be pretty shocking to open your new iPhone and see a blank space where the charger used to be. Since phones don’t ship with a full charge, many people plug them in during setup, and now it look like they’re going to need to bring their own charger to do it. Maybe Apple will cut the price of its own chargers and hopefully they’ll at least supply a USB-C-to-Lightning cable in the box. But this still feels like nickel-and-dimeing.
It’s early enough in the iPhone 12 manufacturing process where Apple could still go either way, so it’s a good time to test the waters. A rumor like this from Kuo was certain to spread like wildfire, so if Apple was looking to gauge the public’s reaction before signing off on the final decision, the timing and the source is perfect.
But while the backlash might be enough for Apple to backtrack on the iPhone 12 and include a charger, it’s pretty safe to assume the iPhone 13—which is already rumored to be completely portless—won’t have one. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see other phone makers follow suit. Just like the headphone jack, camera cutout, and gesture navigation, I expect Samsung and other Android phone makers to at least explore their options when it comes to chargers if Apple removes one from the iPhone 12. Before long, buying a phone with a power adapter could be as rare as finding one with a headphone jack.
We’re already expecting Apple to remove the Lightning earbuds from the iPhone 12 box, but not including a charger is on a whole other level. Yes, excellent chargers from Anker and Aukey are often on sale, but that’s not the point. It’s bad enough that Apple doesn’t include a cable with its chargers or a headphone dongle with the iPhone 12. A pair of earbuds, a dongle, even a headphone jack are auxiliary features that enhance the experience. A charger is a necessity.