Big iPhone 12 problem confirmed by new Apple survey

iPhone 12
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Last week, Ming-Chi Kuo — the Apple analyst with a knack for predicting the company’s movements — stated that the iPhone 12 would appear without a charter or earphones in the box.   

Many people were incredulous: how could Apple possibly sell a phone without means to power it? But now we have a bit more evidence that this is indeed an option that Apple is weighing up.

9to5Mac reports that Apple has been sending out surveys to existing customers asking them what they’ve done with their old charger. Explaining that it’s referring to the plug rather than the cable, Apple gives respondents six options to choose between: 

  •  I sold or traded it with my iPhone  
  •  I lost it  
  •  I gave it to a family member or friend 
  •  I still use it at home  
  •  I still use it outside (at work, school, or other places)  
  •  I still have it, but I don’t use it 

So, what does this mean? Has Ming-Chi Kuo jumped the gun with his report, or is Apple yet to make a final decision? Unlike hardware changes which are locked down months in advance, pack-ins can be decided relatively late, after all. 

Well, two things to note. Firstly, Apple has precedent here — and for those who want the company to keep the charger, it’s a promising one. Back in 2016, Apple sent a survey out to MacBook Pro users, asking them if they use the headphone jack. Presumably the answer came back loud and clear that they do, because four years later all MacBooks still come with the humble 3.5mm input.  

Secondly, the above survey was sent out to a user in Brazil, translated by 9to5Mac. This might mean that Apple is considering different options for different parts of the world. As strategies go, this would make sense: while iPhones have been big sellers in North America since 2008, their popularity has picked up elsewhere over time. In other words, not everywhere has the same level of Lightning cable saturation as the USA.

And while it’s easy to see the move to cut cables and earbuds as an anti-consumer and/or money-grabbing for a company that already charges an aggressively high price for its products, there’s definitely a positive spin to it. E-waste is a massive problem around the world, and if Apple can reduce its part in that without inconveniencing existing users, then it seems like a sensible thing to do. 

The key is getting the balance right and, assuming the prediction comes true, hopefully Apple will have a low-cost solution in place for would-be buyers who don’t already have a cable knocking about. Time will tell — albeit, more time than usual as the release of the latest iPhone has been pushed back from its normal September schedule thanks to the ongoing problems with coronavirus. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.