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Apple’s new iPhones won’t ship with earbuds or wall chargers

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To reduce the environmental impact of its phones

Apple says not including the accessories makes for a smaller box.
Image: Apple

Apple’s new iPhone 12 lineup will ship without wall chargers or Lightning EarPods in the box to reduce the phone’s environmental impact, the company announced today. Instead, they’ll come with just a USB-C to Lightning cable. As well as the new phones, Apple is also removing the accessories from its existing iPhone models going forward.

Apple says it’s not including a charger or earbuds with the iPhone 12 series on environmental grounds; similarly, it didn’t include a charging brick with this year’s Apple Watch models. The company says the move means it has to consume fewer raw materials for each iPhone sold. It also allows for a smaller retail box, which means 70 percent more units can fit on a single shipping pallet and reduce carbon emissions. Overall, Apple estimates the changes will cut over 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually, the equivalent of removing 450,000 cars from the road each year.

Earlier reports of the change have been met with outrage online, with some suggesting that it has more to do with increasing Apple’s margins and decreasing its shipping costs rather than protecting the environment. Regardless of Apple’s motives, however, the move is likely to decrease e-waste either way.

As well as not shipping the accessories with its new phones, Apple is also removing wall chargers and Lightning earbuds from the older iPhones in its lineup that it’ll continue selling. On Apple’s site, listings for the iPhone XR, iPhone 11, and 2020 iPhone SE now say that they only ship with a phone and USB-C to Lightning cable in the box.

As part of its announcement, Apple said there are already 700 million Lightning headphones out in the world, as well as 2 billion Apple power adapters, suggesting most people will already have both accessories.

Update October 13th, 3:45PM ET: Updated with news that the accessories will also no longer ship with the iPhone XR, iPhone 11, and iPhone SE.