By Akriti Rana and Nimish Dubey
It was the fateful year of 2016 when Apple announced it was removing the 3.5mm audio jack. And a cult of yarn hatred has come of age. This cult existed before 2016, but Apple removing the 3.5mm audio jack from its flagship phones at the time gave this cult a new lease of life. Before you know it, every high-end smartphone was saying goodbye to the 3.5mm audio jack.
Just like many flashy and fancy new tech trends, this one also tried to trickle down to mid-segment smartphones. While some of the middle segments have followed suit, the attempt to remove the 3.5mm audio jack from a smartphone’s anatomy has proven to be a failure.
It’s very lively and dynamic.
Exit, AC adapter?
Fast forward to 2021, and Apple has once again decided to ditch a smartphone supplement. It was what many considered an integral part of a smartphone’s existence: the power adapter. Since their inception, smartphones have come with wall adapters, but suddenly the “missing charger” trend has accelerated.
With the launch of the iPhone 12 series, Apple announced that the brand will not pair its smartphones with a wall adapter in the box. The move came as a move to reduce the tech giant’s carbon footprint. At the launch event, Apple explained how many of its consumers are regular buyers and often don’t use the extra charger that comes with a new phone. According to Apple, the move was a measure to reduce waste and removing the adapter from the box also meant that the phone’s packaging became smaller and lighter, making it easier to store and wasting less energy. efforts and material in the packaging.
Much like many of these moves from Apple, this move also faced a lot of heat. While there was a small lobby that believed in the brand’s good intentions, most were simply outraged that such a high-end phone would now go without something as basic as a charger. It was heavily criticized and presented as a way to simply make more money.
Moving from the premium segment to the intermediate segment?
While there was an outcry over Apple removing the charger from its smartphone box, Samsung also decided to follow in the footsteps of its rivals and removed wall adapters from its high-end smartphone plans. Google also went ahead and removed the charging brick from the Pixel 6 box. The trend seemed to be contagious.
Apple actually wasn’t the first to drop the smartphone adapter. It was the Moto G launched in 2013 that came without a wall adapter, although it was sold with one in India. The reason behind the missing accessory was actually to reduce the cost of the product and not the new age reasons that brands are giving these days.
With the lack of a wall adapter in the smartphone package becoming more and more common, many consumers feared that this trend would spill over to the mid-segment as well. When Samsung recently launched the Samsung Galaxy F23 5G without an AC adapter in the box, the sound of footsteps approaching this trend in the mid-segment could be faintly heard in the distance. If one of the country’s leading smartphone brands released an Rs 17,999 phone with no charger in the box, it was surely only a matter of time before others followed suit.
Relax, the Charger is here to stay in the mid-segment
We do not agree. We don’t think the absence of the charging brick will become a permanent practice in the mid segment.
Unlike most of the features that are passed down from high-end phones to mid-range and then budget-segment devices, fast charging has actually become a major USP of smartphones, in the mid and upper price ranges. Brands like OnePlus, Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi, and Realme are all using fast charging as a key feature to sell their smartphones.
For this feature to work, brands need to integrate adapters with these smartphones that can actually do the job in the claimed period. This is because not all chargers charge phones at the same speed. While brands like OnePlus have always put fast charging front and center, the fast charging fanfare has become so intense that Xiaomi has even launched a fast charging-centric upper-middle segment smartphone – the Xiaomi Mi 11i Hypercharge.
Indeed, even in the premium segment, Apple, Samsung and Google are perhaps the only brands to have removed the wall adapter from their smartphone case. The reason behind this can also be that none of these brands support incredibly fast charging like brands like Oppo, Vivo, and OnePlus do. That means they can’t milk the fast-charging cow and therefore gain very little from pairing their premium phones with charging adapters.
Let’s go back to the case of the missing 3.5 mm audio jack adapter. While high-end phones may have ditched the port, a closer look at the mid-range segment reveals that almost all phones below the Rs 25,000 price mark still have the 3.5mm audio jack. In fact, OnePlus even pointed out the existence of the 3.5mm jack in its latest phone, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G.
All of this leads us to believe that while some brands may be on a mission to kick wall adapters out of our smartphone plans, we don’t think their time to leave has come. Not yet.