A volt from the blue: Samsung reportedly ditches wall-wart from future phones

What's in the box? Not mains charger, sources say

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Samsung is reportedly considering unbundling mains chargers from some of its upcoming smartphones — supposedly because customers have enough of the things lying around already.

The as-yet unconfirmed report comes from Korean business publication ETNews, which cites the justification of redundancy — most people already have a wall charger, or use use an alternative, like a PC or a wireless pad — and cost.

Crucially, it follows similar bleatings from reliable Apple soothsayer Ming-Chi Kuo, who reckoned Apple will ditch the bundled chargers with the launch of the iPhone 12, expected later this year. Presently, iPhones ship with 5W or 18W chargers, with the pricier models supporting the faster charging methods. Apple is reported to retire this and instead sell a 20W charger separately.

Kuo also noted that future iPhones also may ditch the bundled earbuds that have long been an expected inclusion.

Cost, inevitably, will prove a factor in any decision to remove a wall charger. It's one less component to build. Those savings look even more enticing when you consider the gargantuan scale at which Apple and Samsung operate. According to some estimates, the firms together account for nearly 90 per cent of carrier smartphone sales in the US.

It’s the tech equivalent of American Airlines saving $40,000 by removing a single olive from each dinner service salad. Or Mondelez widening the gap between the peaks in a Toblerone bar. Pick your analogy.

Of course, there’s another advantage to unbundling, as it allows smartphone vendors to sell more accessories. Samsung could use this move to sell more of its charging tech — from traditional wall chargers, to more novel wireless offerings, like its recent UV-cleaning Qi-compatible box.

Apple, for what it’s worth, charges around £30 for a wall charger — which gives you a clue to the potential benefits of offering them separately. The firm’s 2019 financials show revenues of $24.5 billion in the “Wearables, Home, and Accessories” segment — although it’s pertinent to note that this includes sales of items like AirPods and the Apple Watch.

There’s another context to frame these moves: the European Commission is currently looking into charging technology, with the aim to create a one-size-fits-all standard for all manufacturers. Tangentially, the investigation is also looking into whether manufacturers should decouple accessories like chargers and cables.

Any move from Samsung or Apple — or any other phone vendor, for that matter — could be reasonably interpreted as an attempt to pre-empt any moves from Brussels that would force the firms to adjust their packaging. ®

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