A hop and a skip in a greener direction, but no jump…
After yesterday watching the Apple Event which introduced the iPhone 12 devices and the HomePod Mini to the world, it was clear the main focus of the event was the announcement that all of the iPhone 12s will support 5G mobile technology.
5G has been in existence for a while now and there are ads and billboards dotted around from some of the major networks advertising that 5G is now here. Yet coverage has been limited to specific areas of major cities so the commercial uptake has not yet transpired. With the release of the iPhone 12 however, that uptake may be about to accelerate. Whilst this announcement is very exciting in terms of the connectivity and the speeds these phones will now be able to deliver, it was another announcement which I felt was perhaps more revolutionary.
Apple announced that across the range of iPhone devices they will now be removing the power adapter and EarPods, the wired set of ear buds which are normally supplied with the phone. A fast-charging USB-C to Lightning cable will still be included in the box however. By doing this Apple are now able to ship the new range of iPhones in smaller, slimmer boxes. This has the effect of using less packaging materials, as well as allowing a higher number of boxes to be included in one shipment, which will also result in fewer shipments of devices across the world. On their website, Apple estimates that this all adds up to reducing over 2 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year, which they say is the equivalent of 450,000 fewer cars on the road. During the event yesterday Apple also stated that they were operating under a plan which strives to make all of their products carbon neutral by the year 2030. All positive you might say.
And yes it is certainly a step in the right direction, and come the year 2030 we will be able to see if the company’s ambitions on carbon neutrality actually came to fruition. While it is admirable that action is now being taken by a company as giant as Apple, I would have liked to have seen them take it a step further by removing all cables from their iPhone devices completely. As I suggested in a previous post, a large number of people around the world own an iPhone, and a large number of those people are likely to have had a different iPhone before that said device. There will also be households containing multiple iPhones and Apple devices including iPads, AirPods and Apple Watches. Therefore as Apple alluded to in their event yesterday, there are going to be huge number of power adapters lying around the homes of iPhone users already, before the introduction of millions more when these new phones ship.
As I sit at my desk now, there are two unused power adaptors for iPhones in my drawer. Case in point.
Yet with those power adapters, there are also going be a very large number of cables like the aforementioned USB-C to Lightning cable, as one power adapter needs an associated cable like a car needs wheels. So if Apple removed the power adapter, why not also remove the cable that goes with it? The Lightning cable can be used to connect the phone to other things like a computer, but realistically how often do people do that nowadays? You could argue that Apple’s wireless revolution began in late 2016 when they first introduced AirPods and removed the headphone jack from their new iPhones in a move which they cited as being “courageous”.
With this in mind the wireless revolution has been going on for a number of years now and I would have liked Apple to be a little more ambitious in their announcements yesterday by removing charging cables completely from their new devices. If consumers needed a new power adapter or cable or replacements, they would be able to buy one as they will continue to be sold separately. Adding to this, yesterday Apple announced the return of their MagSafe technology, and this time its coming to their iPhones. The MagSafe charger will not be shipped with the new iPhone but will be sold separately as an accessory. To me it seems a bit like they’ve boiled the kettle but neglected to make the coffee, and it’s the coffee which is the desired result.
Let’s stop promising things like the lofty 2030 aim, and actually get it done. Overall, well done Apple for taking this step to more eco-friendly consumerism (if that can exist in any sustainable way). Let us hope that the other major phone manufacturers like Samsung, Google, LG and OnePlus take this baton, run with it and take further steps to eliminate unnecessary waste from our fragile and crowded planet.
Is enough being done by Apple and the like to reduce wastage and encourage greener living? Or is my minimalist nature being too critical? If you have any thoughts feel free to post them below.
Thanks for reading.