The government of Brazil has suspended local sales of iPhones that don’t come packaged with chargers. It also fined Apple R$12,275,500 (about $3.08 million CAD) and cancelled the iPhone 12’s registration with Anatel, the country’s telecom agency.
Apple chose to stop including charging bricks with the iPhone 12, a move that was quickly followed by competitors and caused frustration for users. Apple argues that the decision was intended to help the environment by reducing waste. Moreover, Apple said it was able to shrink the size of the iPhone box by removing the charging brick (as well as earbuds), which in turn allowed for a smaller box that offset carbon emissions.
However, Senacon, Brazil’s consumer protection agency, called the decision a “burden” on customers and said Apple could find other ways to reduce its environmental impact, such as by switching to USB-C. The Verge notes that Brazil previously fined Apple in 2021 over not including chargers with the iPhone 12. Brazil says Apple “has taken no measure to minimize the damage and continues to sell cell phones without chargers.”
According to Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, Apple still has the iPhone 12 for sale on its website in Brazil. It’s also likely no coincidence that this comes on the eve of Apple’s iPhone 14 launch. The iPhone 14 likely won’t include a power brick either, and I’m curious to see if this sales suspension will have an impact on the new iPhone.
Brazil isn’t the only country feuding with Apple
The Verge notes that Brazil isn’t the only country to take issue with Apple and its charging situation. The European Union is pushing forward with a law that would require all phones sold within the EU to use USB-C ports by 2024 (Brazil is considering a similar change). France legally required phones to include earbuds with all devices, but the country recently passed a new law to remove that requirement.
Moreover, The Verge has previously made the argument that removing the charging brick is more about cutting costs for Apple than helping the environment.
I’ve argued for a while that not including a charging brick with phones was a bad idea. Part of the environmental concern stems from the argument that most people already have at least one charging brick and don’t need another. However, that argument ignores that some people don’t have a charging brick, or might switch phones and not have a fully compatible charging brick, or that people might want a new charging brick to take advantage of newer fast charging tech.
There are better solutions that could still provide charging bricks for those who need them while also reducing waste. For example, smartphone manufacturers could offer a charging brick credit of some kind so that people can get a free brick with a purchase if they need one. Alternatively, expand trade-in programs so people can get a small kickback for recycling their old power bricks.