The latest flurry of rumours on the iPhone 12 suggests that Apple may actually be pulling all of its accessories out of the box this year, resulting in a box that includes little more than the iPhone itself. Although it seems likely that Apple will still need to include a USB to Lightning cable in the box, there's now been enough smoke among analysts to suggest a strong possibility that there won't be a power adapter or set of EarPods in the box this year.
While Apple's actual logic behind this isn't entirely clear, we can think of a number of reasons why this could be a very good thing for everyone concerned. Read on for 6 good reasons why we think Apple should remove the accessories from the iPhone 12.
Apple ships hundreds of millions of iPhones every year. Taken at that kind of scale, every inch of extra packaging and every gram of extra weight has a huge environmental impact.
Firstly there's the packaging itself, which of course requires materials like paper and cardboard and plastics. Even when Apple is using 100% renewable resources, it's better not to have to use those resources in the first place.
However, it goes beyond the simple packaging materials into shipping and warehousing and storage costs. The current Apple 5W charger weighs in at 23 grams, and when you add the EarPods, that's another 12 grams, so that's 35 grams just for the physical accessories — without the additional packaging required for them.
This means that by eliminating these two accessories, Apple reduces the weight of each iPhone by at least 35 grams, which doesn't sound like a lot by itself, but for 100 million iPhones? That's 3.5 billion grams, or almost 4,000 tons in weight savings per year.
In other words, in one year Apple could save the equivalent weight of ten Boeing 747's or about half the displacement of an Arleigh Burke class destroyer — all just by removing two accessories from the box of each iPhone.
Since it takes non-renewable resources like fossil fuels to ship all of these around the world, the less that Apple has to move around, the better it is for the environment.
That's also just factoring in weight, but smaller packaging also means more product can be moved around in fewer shipments — what might have taken four trucks might now require only two, which again results in a tangible reduction in environmental impact at this kind of scale.
The European Union has been on a mission over the past few years to reduce e-waste, and while it's trying to tackle that by pushing for a common charging standard, it would be even better for Apple to not include a charger in the box at all.
This would encourage users to reuse their existing chargers, reducing the number of electronics that end up in landfills or recycling depots. Even those users who are environmentally conscious enough to avoid disposing of their chargers often end up with a collection of more than they need at home, and it still costs money — and environmental resources — to manufacture these bricks.
Of course, it's not just about the environment — Apple is also naturally able to cut its costs across the board by removing accessories, and again this doesn't just apply to the cost of producing the accessories themselves, but also packaging, shipping, and warehousing costs.
It's difficult to know exactly what all of this costs Apple, but again taken at the scale at which the iPhone is produced, it has to be pretty significant.
Each year the accessories that Apple includes in its iPhone box become increasingly redundant for a variety of reasons:
- Very few users are buying a new iPhone for the first time, so they may already have a charger from their last model, and even if they're handing that iPhone down to another family member in the same household, they can often share chargers.
- USB chargers in general are becoming increasingly common. Chances are most iPhone buyers already have at least one kicking around that they're not already using regularly.
- It's always been possible to charge your iPhone from the USB port on a computer.
- Wireless charging is becoming considerably more popular.
- The charger Apple has been including for years with the iPhone (with the exception of last year's "Pro" models) is notoriously slow. Many users choose to upgrade to a faster charger anyway.
- A lot of people likely don't use earphones with their iPhone at all, since it's no longer primarily a music player.
- Those who do use earphones often upgrade to much better earphones anyway, and like chargers, wireless earphones are becoming considerably more popular.
Apple is ultimately looking to move toward an entirely portless iPhone, and removing the accessories — and thereby reducing users' dependencies on them — is a pretty important first step to doing this.
After all, once people get used to not having the charger, they're more likely to seek out alternatives, and wireless charging will begin to look more attractive. After all, if you have to buy a charger anyway, why not go wireless?
The same can also be said for headphones, especially considering how many inexpensive Bluetooth earbuds are now available on the market. While these won't provide the same quality as a $200 set of AirPods or Beats, they're definitely on par with Apple's $29 EarPods.
Considering the cost of even Apple's most affordable AirPods, we're pretty sure this is a secondary factor, but it's undoubtedly on Apple's mind that if it doesn't include EarPods in the box, then iPhone buyers will be more likely to pick up a set of AirPods instead, or for that matter even Beats headphones.
However, even if users choose to go with another brand of headphones, Apple still wins by saving the costs and environmental impact of not including EarPods in the box that the vast majority of iPhone users probably never even unpack.