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Is removing the iPhone 12 charger really eco-friendly? What you need to know

Was removing the Apple iPhone 12 charger really an eco-friendly move? Here's what you need to know.

Published onApril 17, 2021

iPhone 12 in hand back 1
David Imel / Android Authority

Apple’s iPhone 12 launch marked the end of including a charger in the box. Instead, you would get your new phone, a Lightning to USB-C cable, some required paperwork, and that’s it. Other OEMs have now copied the move, including a few that vowed not to ditch the charger. Here’s everything you need to know about the Apple iPhone 12 charger and why it’s no longer in the box.

See also: Apple iPhone 12 buyer’s guide: Everything you need to know

We’ll dig into Apple’s reasoning for ditching the charger, why that reasoning doesn’t really make sense, and what you can do instead. It’s not all bad news, as there are benefits to Apple’s decision, but it probably could have been executed a bit better. Let’s get into it.

Why did Apple leave the charger out of the box?

iPhone 12 Mini back held up with hand 1
David Imel / Android Authority

During Apple’s iPhone 12 launch event, the Cupertino company made a big deal about its charger change. In fact, the company went so far as to put Lisa Jackson — the VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives — on the roof of Apple HQ to talk about how eco-friendly Apple is.

She discussed how ditching the wired EarPods helps to reduce carbon emissions and eliminate mining pollution. Jackson then points out how leaving these former staples out of the box allows Apple to use less packaging and ship more products in less space. Essentially, Apple is leaving the iPhone 12 charger out of the box as a way to reduce emissions and be kinder to the planet — or so they say.

Does the reasoning make sense?

iPhone 12 Mini display in front of neon
David Imel / Android Authority

Well, removing the iPhone 12 charger from the box will indeed protect the environment. Less packaging is good, and most people prefer alternatives to EarPods anyway. However, there are a few things that Apple didn’t mention in its presentation.

For starters, the company is still making the same charger. However, you’ll have to pony up the $19 cost on top of your $699 to $1,099 base cost. That means that Apple is still using many of the same resources that it claims to be saving, but you’ll now have to pay extra. Not only that, but the charger will also ship separately in separate packaging, thus creating more waste.

You might be thinking that you can use an older charger with your new cable and be just fine. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true. The iPhone 12 comes with a Lightning to USB-C cable, which is incompatible with charging blocks outside the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. It’s not really an issue if you upgrade your phone every single year, but we’re not all in a position to do so.

Even if you use your iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max charger, you won’t enjoy peak speeds. Those older blocks top out at 18W, while the iPhone 12 cable can tap into 20W speeds given the right cable. If you use an older cable from a previous iPhone, you might even be stuck with crawling 5W speeds. Instead, you’ll have to turn back to Apple for the right charger and cable combo or find a third-party option that’s MFi certified.

All in all, you’re looking at spending extra money and making extra packaging waste to make up for Apple’s exclusions.

What could Apple have done instead?

iPhone 12 Pro Max taking a photo 2
David Imel / Android Authority

We’re not here to question Apple’s eco-friendly initiatives. Ditching the charging block and EarPods are both environmentally conscious moves. However, we’re not so fond of Apple trying to turn the situation into a profit by selling the charger and ‘Pods back to you. It makes everything seem a bit more cash-dependent, rather than trying to protect the Earth. MagSafe makes matters even worse, as you’d have to shell out $39 for a compatible charger.

Even though Apple seems to have taken the slightly wrong direction with its chargers and EarPods, there are things that the company could have done instead. They could have made a charger and EarPods available in stores, free of charge. iPhone 12 owners could walk into the Apple Store, pick up unpackaged blocks and ‘buds, and be on their way. It still consumes resources to create the chargers, which still have to be shipped in, but it’s the first step.

If Apple really wanted to make life easier, they could ditch Lightning altogether. Then, users could rely on universal chargers and cables to keep themselves moving, and Apple wouldn’t have to produce nearly as many chargers. Yes, USB-C is still a mess in 2021, but it’s far more flexible than Lightning.

Much of the electronics industry has embraced USB-C at this point. Still, European Commission has long been fighting to create legislation that would prevent Apple (and any other company) from releasing products that require proprietary cabling. The Cupertino company is a major holdout against a one-cable solution that’s environmentally friendly and user-friendly.

After all, Apple has already swapped Lightning for USB-C on its iPads, so what’s the hold-up?

See also: The best car chargers: A buyer’s guide

What iPhone 12 chargers can you use?

Alright, so we know that Apple isn’t bringing back the charger any time soon. We also know why the reasoning is a little fishy. So what can you do about an easy charging solution? Well, there are plenty of blocks out there, and here are a few of our favorites:

Apple 20W USB-C power adapter

iphone 12 apple charger


We just spent a long while talking about how Apple’s move away from the charger is a cash grab, but it still makes one of the best iPhone 12 chargers around. The 20W block offers everything you can really ask for, and you know that it will work seamlessly. It only comes in white, and the charger will set you back a few dollars more than the rest on the list, but it backs just the punch you need.

AUKEY Minima fast charger

aukey minima

The AUKEY Minima charger is a great pick if you want to save on space. The company boasts that it’s 50% smaller than the previous 20W charger, and it’s much smaller than Apple’s offering. You can choose from black or white finishes, and the overheating and overcharging protections are a bonus. AUKEY’s Minima even has folding prongs to take up less space.

Anker PowerPort III charger

iphone 12 anker charger

Anker’s PowerPort III charger is just about the same size as AUKEY’s Minima, but you get a two-pack for your money. It comes in black or white as well, and it relies on PIQ 3.0 to keep you moving at top speeds. Anker’s latest block boasts three times faster speeds than the previous option, and the two-pack is tough to top.

WeMiss Power Delivery 3.0 20W charger

iphone 12 wemiss charger

WeMiss is another brand offering a two-pack of speedy chargers. It’s helpful if you need to keep one charger in your office and another in your room, and Power Delivery 3.0 is a reliable way to charge. You can choose from matching black or white options, or pick up one of each color if you please. The prongs don’t fold for easier storage, but the charger itself is still extremely tiny.

Amoner 20W wall charger with a 3-foot cable

iphone 12 amoner

Our last charger is an MFi-certified option from Amoner. It looks almost identical to Apple’s first-party option, and it even comes with a three-foot cable to complete the setup. Amoner’s charger packs overcharge protection and short circuit protection, and it only comes in white. If you want a charger to replace Apple’s option as close as possible, this is the way to go.

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