Google Pixel 6 charger removal is a bad idea, because it ignores user choice

Google Pixel 6
(Image credit: Google)

The Google Pixel 6 series is going to shake up the existing Pixel formula significantly. While that mostly comes in the form of superior specs, it also seems we'll be losing something in return.

Just like Apple and Samsung, Google is reportedly ditching the bundled fast charger for the Pixel 6, according to The Verge, since most users already have a USB-C charger to hand. If true, this will be Google's first no-charger phone, since the just-announced Pixel 5a will still have a charger included. 

We should have expected Google to fall in line with what the approach taken by the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S21 series, but if it does go down this route it will be incredibly annoying and something users should have a say in, not something they just have to accept.

There are genuine environmental reasons for excluding the charger. Basically, everyone has access to a USB-C cable and something to draw power from, even if it's an older charger from a different phone company. If users can utilize the chargers they already own, the idea goes, it will save resources. That's a fine sentiment that many customers will agree with, but the implementation that Google is apparently taking is less so.

For one, it does feel as if the tech giants are simply trying to make you pay more for less. In Google's case, for instance, the company has already hinted at a considerable price hike for the Pixel 6 series. If there's no power brick in the box, you'd imagine that would be money that could be deducted from the list price — but it doesn't look as if that will be the case here. 

What makes it worse is that Google Pixels have all charged at 18W, which isn't a common wattage among other fast charge systems. So, unless you've owned a Pixel phone in the past, you won't be able to fast-charge the new model without buying a new compatible charger — which would in turn invalidate the environmental benefit of having no included chargers in the first place.

Of course, this may not be a big deal for you; if you always remember to put your phone on charge overnight, then it doesn't matter how fast it fills up, as long as it's full by morning, right? However, the option to quickly juice up your phone when you're caught out by a long video call or lose track of time playing mobile games is one all phone users, particularly those paying flagship-device prices, should have.

Leaker Max Weinbach had it right when he tweeted about Google offering the Pixel 6's charger as a pre-order option. In theory, this would give us the best of both worlds, allowing users to get the fast-charging brick if they wish while letting those who don't want or need it the option to forgo it.

Google is well within its rights to question whether smartphone users really need more chargers when they buy a new phone. However, if it doesn't provide a charger, users will be unable to use one of the phone's basic features. So unless smartphone makers decide to unite around a common fast-charging standard (and I really don't see that happening), the least they can do is give users the chance to decide whether they're happy to go without a charger.

We'll find out soon if Google does have plans like this up its sleeve, along with the remaining Pixel 6 specs; based on previous Pixel launches, we expect the 6 and 6 Pro to arrive in either late September or early October. 

We have, however, already been told about the phones' 6.4/6.7-inch AMOLED displays, with the Pixel 6 getting a 90Hz refresh rate and the Pixel 6 Pro getting a 120Hz refresh rate. Google's also shared details of the phone's new camera array, featuring a 50MP main sensor and 12MP ultrawide on both phones, and a 48MP telephoto on the Pro model. And we also know that they'll both run on the exciting new Tensor chipset

There's plenty to look forward to with the new phones, then — we just hope the lack of a charger doesn't take some of the shine off the launch. 

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.