Update: Since this editorial was first published, Apple has removed the wall adapter from the packaging for the Hermès and Titanium Apple Watch Series 6.
Apple is one of the most proactive companies globally when it comes to doing its part to protect the environment. The company is already a carbon-neutral operation, and within 10 years, it hopes all of its products will be too.
One of the new ways it has chosen to do this is to begin shipping some of its most popular products without power bricks. This is a huge step in the right direction, especially when you consider that most folks don't need a new wall charger every time they buy a new electronics device. For a lot of people, a wall charger is another piece of plastic that will be thrown into a drawer, never to be used again. Or worse, thrown into the trash where it will end up in a landfill for thousands of years.
For months, we've heard Apple was planning to remove USB wall adapters from iPhone boxes, starting with the iPhone 12 series this fall. Because of COVID, the release of those phones has been delayed, probably until October or November. This made the recently released Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE the first Apple products to ditch the wall charger. As if adding an exclamation point to its environmentally-friendly move, Cupertino is also removing the power brick from new packages for the still-available Apple Watch Series 3.
Though this will have a big effect on Apple's environmental impact (Apple did say that it amounts to removing 50,000 cars per year from U.S. roads), there is a bit of an incongruency with the higher-end models that leaves me wondering why we are paying the same price for less product. The pricey Hermès and Titanium Apple Watch Series 6 models will continue to ship with a 5W USB Power Adapter. In other words, those who can afford it, get it for free.
Listen, I understand the majority of Apple Watch buyers aren't choosing Hermès or Apple Watch Edition models. If they were, Apple wouldn't have ditched the ceramic models for this year's release. Therefore, keeping wall chargers with the most expensive Apple Watches isn't going to make an enormous impact on the environment. I genuinely believe that's Apple's No. 1 goal here.
From an optics perspective, it seems less equal. Apple didn't lower the price of the Apple Watch to reflect the missing wall adapter. In fact, if you buy Apple's brand, which used to come free in the box, you'll have to pay an additional $19 more than you would have paid for last year's model. It's possible that the technology behind the blood oxygen monitor would have priced the Series 6 higher than it's yearly stable starting price of $399, but this doesn't seem like a financial play.
As the iPhone 12 launch looms, it is possible we'll see a similar situation; Lower cost iPhone 12 models (like the rumored iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Plus) would not include a power brick, while the higher-end models (like the rumored iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max) would. I'm hoping not. Hopefully, Apple will either go all-in or all-out, in terms of including the USB wall adapter.
For the sake of the environment, I'm rooting for the latter (all-out) because it would make an impressive environmental impact (if Apple Watch sales is like getting rid of 50K cars, imagine what iPhone sales without a power brick could be).
For now, and for those out there that may not have a drawer full of USB wall adapters, I'd be happier if Apple would offer one as a free add-on with your new purchase.
What say you?
How do you feel about Apple's decision to not include a wall adapter in the Apple Watch packaging (except for the Hermés and Edition models)? Proud of Apple's environmental progress or wishing you could have it all (or at least pay less for what's missing)?
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Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.