Sorry, but Apple ditching the adapter and the AirPods isn’t really “going green”

iphone 12 box kit
Image: Apple

Last week, the world of smartphones stirred with the announcement of its latest newcomer: Apple’s iPhone 12 series

However, while it has made headlines for its cutting-edge specs, such as being the first iPhone to carry the latest A14 Bionic chip and being the first 5G-ready iPhone, it has also been the talk of the town lately for one more major change: Apple has chucked the wall charger and the AirPods out of every iPhone 12 box it will sell.

And now, it seems the case isn’t just applicable to the new iPhone 12 — all iPhones shipping out from Apple factories, including the iPhone 11, iPhone XR, and the iPhone SE won’t come with the same complements either.

The good

Apple removes charger and earphones from box. Do you approve 1
Image: Apple

In a press release, Apple explained that by removing said components, the company will not only reduce packaging costs by 70% but also reduce its carbon emissions by being able to ship more units at the same time. All this is part of Apple’s commitment to making its entire supply chain 100% carbon neutral by 2030.

During an interview with morning talk show Good Morning America, Apple furthered its explanation. According to VP for iPhone Marketing Kaiann Drance, most people who opt to upgrade to the latest series tend to already be part of the Apple ecosystem, and thus, they would probably have the accessories anyway

You can watch the Apple VP’s explanation below:

Some people of the Internet also stepped in to defend the decision from a buyer’s standpoint — it makes sense money-wise, so they say.

When the iPhone 11 Pro was released last September 2019, it retailed at $1,149 for the 256GB model. The same model of the iPhone 12 Pro will go at $1,099. With the difference, you can buy the 20W wall charger and the AirPods separately for $19 each, leaving you with a spare $10 change.

However, while taking out the added tech for the sake of the environment does sound endearing, and quite frankly the correct step towards assuming accountability for its carbon trails, these projections hardly help in painting the environmental picture Apple wants us to see. Here are a couple of reasons for that.

The not-so-good

The first reason lies in a quick analysis of the actual production cost. Building a 5G-ready smartphone isn’t cheap, which might explain Apple’s attempt to cut some costs in other aspects of the phone to keep the iPhone 12 at the same price point at launch.

The second reason is one that causes frustration across all Apple users: AirPods are criminally delicate. Popular website iFixit, which tears down Apple products to figure them out, gives the AirPods a repairability score of zero out of 10, and that’s coming from actual Apple store technicians.

Apple is adding optimized battery charging to AirPods with iOS 14 -  Business Insider
Image: Business Insider/Apple

Basically, if it breaks or the lithium-ion battery runs out — which is sooner than most of us assume due to poor design — then you’re left with no other option but to replace it. That’s not very environmentally inclined of Apple.

The last reason is probably the simplest — maybe even dumbest — of them all: these accessories are already made, Apple just changed when you’d get them. 

What’s worse is, buying and ordering a separate wall charger or a pair of AirPods means extra resources to ship it to your doorstep, and what was Apple’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions about again?

Remember, Apple is removing the wall charger and AirPods by default from ALL iPhone models moving forward. So, even if you’re already an Apple loyalist looking to upgrade, or a convert considering the newest iPhone, you’re still bound to buy those extra tech.

The ugly

With the new iPhone 12 still in pre-order status in many territories, it’s still hard to tell whether Apple’s move would bear fruit, if at all, so it’s important to think that both sides are still greatly theoretical at this point. 

Though this should be enough to make us think hard about whether upgrading is beneficial to anyone else beyond ourselves. And nothing’s uglier than confronting yourself and your urge to upgrade all the time.

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