While we’re still getting used to our smartphones without headphones (at least for some brands), the big boys are at it again. This time, they’re taking away our charging adapter. Yes, the charging brick!
Removing an important accessory from its box isn’t a new thing for most smartphone users. On the 16th of September 2016, Apple announced the removal of the headphone jack during the iPhone 7 launch.
It was one of the saddest days for iPhone users. Before long, the likes of Samsung and other top brands jumped on the trend, making music listening a hustle for its users.
While the iPhone boys were able to remedy this with a lightning connector that served as a dongle, the Android guys had to settle for wireless headphones. Apple also introduced the Airpods on the same day as the iPhone 7 – a not-so-good alternative if we were to go by their previous standards.
Since then, a lot has gone on in the world of smartphones and tech in general.
And today, they’re at it again.
The chargers are going! First, it was Apple lighting the fire (as is always the case) during the iPhone 12 launch event in the last quarter of 2020. A few months later, in January 2021, Samsung took the same route with the Samsung Galaxy S21 series while Xiaomi also did the same for its Chinese market with the Mi 11 series.
Very soon, this might become a trend as it’s slowly going in that direction. With the influence of these big players in the smartphone industry, we might see the small players join in on the action.
But the question is; why is this happening?
Why have they decided to stop giving us what gives juice to our batteries?
Why are big smartphones sold without a charger?! What are your plans for the future? Will this be the new trend? And if yes, what better alternatives do they plan to offer? All these and we’ll be trying to get answers to below.
Why the Charging Brick Are Now Removed from Smartphones
Let’s start with our trailblazer — Apple — and their own reason for leaving out the charging brick.
Why Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and Others are removing chargers from phones?
The Cupertino company plans to be 100% Carbon Neutral by 2030. They’ve sighted environmental factors for removing the accessory. The ultimate plan is to reduce the rate of carbon emissions in the nearest future.
Our environment has been deteriorating in the last couple of decades due to different factors. The disposal of these charging bricks has contributed — to an extent — to the degradation of the environment. Sometimes, these wastes aren’t disposed of or recycled properly.
Chargers are not meant to be disposed of as normal waste. Just like batteries, chargers are to be properly recycled. But let’s face it, that’s not our current reality.
I’m sure you might have had a bad or broken charging brick at some point. I’m pretty sure that you’ve not been able to get those spoilt bricks recycled. Why? Because recycling centers are not that prominent in this part of the world. Or have you been able to see one in your vicinity?
Also, shipping-based emissions will be reduced as packaging has been cut down to about 70%. So we expect to have less emission from the delivery vehicles as they now have less bulky packages to ship.
This is what Apple — and by extension — other big brands are aiming to achieve by removing chargers from phones. It’s all about our environment. They all want a better environment for us all, and one of the best ways to achieve this is to ship smartphones without charging adapters.
It’s much more convenient for these brands to take such a drastic step since most smartphone users already have chargers from their previous devices. While this is a great step towards a better ecosystem, it does create some problems for smartphone users.
Because for every action taken, there exists a corresponding reaction.
Now we know what their reasons are, let’s take a look at the implications.
The Implications of Removing Chargers from Smartphones?
#1. Slower Chargers
While smartphones these days are shipping with big batteries of 4000mAh and more, it’s frustrating to have a charger that doesn’t power up your device as fast as you’d like it to. This is a problem faced by most who don’t use the default charger.
Getting a fast charger could be a daunting task, especially for the non-tech-inclined. The geeks may be able to spot original chargers from inferior or fake chargers. This isn’t the case with a normal user who will most likely go for a product using the price-quality relationship as a deciding factor: the higher the price, the higher the quality.
This isn’t true in most cases. High price doesn’t always translate to better quality. So this leaves a majority of smartphone users in a dilemma — trying to get the best product for their device.
#2. Less Durable Chargers
As far as quality goes, most third-party accessories don’t offer the same quality as stock products. Just like every other smartphone accessory, chargers do break down after some time due to different factors.
However, what you get out-of-the-box with your smartphone should be more durable than that of a third party. Though we can’t deny that there are some good quality third-party chargers, the problem lies in choosing the better option from the vast majority of available options.
Having to change chargers frequently could be a potential problem if we see this as a trend. Unless the makers of these accessories improve in terms of product quality.
While the charging brick is left out, we still get to see the USB or lightning cords. These cords which were made specifically for a device and its corresponding adapter, may not fit into some third-party accessory.
Sometimes, it doesn’t fit on your previous adapter: Apple’s iPhone 12 is a classic example where we get a USB-C—to—Lightning connector on the iPhone 12, as opposed to the lightning cord that shipped with its predecessor.
This means you can’t use your iPhone 12 power cord on your iPhone 11’s power adapter. You’ll have to purchase a new one.
Solutions for Smartphones Sold Without a Charger
Though we anticipate the death of charging bricks and the potential eradication of I/O ports on smartphones in the coming years, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. The problem is, we don’t know how bright the light is, or how far it travels.
One thing to know for sure is: even though this move seems to be a problem for most, the OEMs already have plans in place to remedy the situation. Most of them we’ve seen already, some we should expect in the near future.
#1 Wireless Charging
Wireless charging has been around for a decade now, even though the technology has been around since the late ’70s. It involves placing your device on a wireless charging stand or in Apple’s case, using a MagSafe connector.
A lot of OEMs do sell their own wireless stands but you can still go for generic options. A good name that comes to mind is the Qi Wireless charging stand. It supports a wide variety of gadgets with wireless charging capabilities.
While this looks like a cool option, it does come with its own problem.
Firstly, and most importantly, energy transfer from surface to surface is inefficient as compared to what we get from wired charging. Some bits of energy are lost during charge and this brings us to the second problem. These bits of energy that are lost, tend to be converted to heat.
As science would tell us, energy can’t be destroyed but can be converted from one form to another.
As we all know, the greatest enemy of a smartphone’s battery is heat. And this heat, over time will reduce the lifespan of our battery. Wireless charging is cool, but not well-optimized for now.
#2. Remote Charging
Remote charging is pretty new these days and showing some promising signs. Xiaomi seems to be championing this new tech after it tweeted about the Mi Air Charge Technology earlier this year.
With the air charge technology, you can power your smartphone within your house without using a wireless stand or USB cable. You’ll only be needing the Mi Air Charging Box.
This is one of the greatest technological leaps in recent history. As they’ve been many failed trials of electric current transfer via air. This technology hasn’t hit the market yet.
But if and when it eventually does, anticipate some problems as is the case with every new technology. The radiation could be a potential health risk for all we know. Plus the fact that some physical obstructions may reduce the rate at which energy is transmitted over the air.
#3. GaN Chargers
The introduction of Gallium Nitride Chargers could be the next best alternative. Why?
Gallium Nitride allows manufacturers to build chargers with fewer internal materials. This means we can have a huge 55W GaN charger which is a quarter of the usual silicon chargers.
This also translates to about a 25% speed increase in wired chargers and up to a 70% increase in wireless chargers. A pretty good deal I must confess.
Once again, big ups to Xiaomi for leading the way as it ships the new Xiaomi Mi 11 with a 55W GaN charger to its non-Chinese markets.
The future is still bright!
The transition to charger-free big phones reflects the technology industry’s ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability. While implications such as compatibility issues and slower charging speeds arise, innovative alternatives like wireless charging and GaN chargers are poised to address these challenges.
As this transformation unfolds, users will have to evaluate these new options and adapt to the evolving landscape of smartphone accessories.
Ultimately, the choice between wireless charging/portless smartphones and conventional charging methods is subjective and hinges on individual preferences, technological advancements, and environmental considerations.
The smartphone industry is at a crossroads, paving the way for further innovations that align with our changing needs and values.