In a push to better serve the planet, Apple has decided to no longer include power adapters in the packaging for its top-selling product, the iPhone. And yet, that’s not necessarily the biggest surprise you’ll soon discover if you plan on purchasing an iPhone 12 in the coming weeks.
Goodbye Power Adapter, Hello USB-C to Lightning Cable
In announcing the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, Apple also noted the 2020/21 handsets would no longer ship with a power adapter or Earbuds. New packaging for the previously released iPhone SE (2020), iPhone XR, and iPhone 11 will also come without the accessories.
As Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president for environmental policy and social initiatives, explained during the iPhone 12 unveiling:
Customers already have over 700 million Lightning headphones and many customers have moved to a wireless experience with AirPods, Beats, or other wireless headphones.
There are also over 2 billion Apple power adapters out in the world and that’s not counting the billions of third party adapters. So we are removing these items from the iPhone box which reduces carbon emissions and avoids the mining and use of precious materials.
Both statements are correct and make sense from an environmental perspective. When the biggest company in the world decides to no longer ship accessories with its best-selling product, fewer materials are used. Ultimately, that’s great for planet Earth. And yet, in an interesting twist, these products will now ship with a speedier USB-C to Lightning Cable, when previously they came with a Lighting to USB-A Cable. Meaning, most of the 2 billion Apple power adapters Jackson mentioned won’t work with the newer cable. So instead of having unused Earbuds and power adapters, we’ll now have unopened USB-C to Lightning Cables.
Apple’s decision to remove a power adapter from iPhone packaging moving forward doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Last month, the company said the Apple Watch Series 6 would come without a power adapter for the first time. Repackaged Apple Watch Series 3 models have also removed a power adapter from the packaging.
It’s the switch to a newer (and better) USB-C to Lightning Cable with the iPhones that could cause some short-term headaches for iPhone buyers who aren’t necessarily in the know or have various other Apple products around the house. Recall, the MacBook family now uses USB-C, as does the iPad Pro and upcoming iPad Air (2020). These products ship with USB-C power adapters. The iPad mini (2019) and iPad (2020) still come with USB-A power adapters.
What Can You Do?
If you’re buying a new iPhone, there are different paths you can take when deciding how to charge your new device, including the following:
- You can use another USB-C power adapter in your home. If it’s a 20W adapter or higher, you’ll be able to fast-charge, which means you’ll get a 50% charge in around 30 minutes. You can also charge your iPhone using the new cord connected to a USB-C computer.
- Another solution is to ditch the new cable. Instead, use the Lightning to USB cable and 5W power adapter that came with your previous iPhone. In this case, however, you can’t take advantage of fast-charging.
The new iPhones, like the previous generation, offer Qi wireless charging up to 7.5W. The newer models also introduce MagSafe wireless charging up to 15W, which requires purchasing (separately) a $39 MagSafe charger. (Get ready to see a long-list of Apple- and third-party related MagSafe cases arrive on the market also.)
The Bottom Line
Apple’s decision to remove both Earbuds and power adapters from iPhones is the right thing to do in the long-term. It helps the planet and, in a small way, eliminates some clutter in most of our homes. And yet, the decision might cause short-term headaches for some iPhone buyers who might not be aware of the change. My advice: If you need an adapter, buy it alongside your new iPhone. You can buy an official USB-C 20W power adapter for $19 or find a third-party solution.