back to article No, Apple, you may not sell iPhones without chargers

Brazil's government is freezing certain iPhone sales in the country and fining Apple for removing chargers from its smartphones, something officials there have declared a practice harmful to consumers, despite being presented as an act of environmental heroism.  Brazil's Department of Consumer Protection and Defense today …

  1. cornetman Silver badge

    Running the original order through Google translate, it seems that their specific beef with Apple is that not including the charger results in a product that is "incomplete" and therefore not functional. I guess I understand their point, they also go on to state that it is not demonstrated that there is an environment benefit by said non-inclusion which seems a bit bizarre and trivially easy to substantiate. If just one customer doesn't buy an additional charger because they already have one, then I guess there is an environmental saving.

    I'm happy to bash Apple like the the next guy, but it seems a bit of a weird stance.

    1. msobkow Silver badge

      I fail to see what the big deal would be for apple to implement a Brazilian SKU that includes a charger. If that is "too expensive" to implement, then say good-bye to the market and good riddance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The big deal is extra unneeded electronics. All mobile phones are now capable of charging overnight from a standard USB port (well, USB-3, as they draw more than 1A) and USB-C (which is apparently going to be a mandatory standard) adds extra power to that.

        Why on earth I would need an extra power supply while I already have (a) the old one and (b) many devices with either USB-A or USB-C format ports is beyond me, so I'm not very impressed by this, and it's actually less relevant if it's Apple or someone else - I think we passed the time that we needed chargers in every box, it's just going to produce a lot more landfill.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          All they'd have to do to both comply with Brazil's request and keep their environmental record is to allow people to present a receipt, serial number, or some other single-use validator for an iPhone to receive a free charging block. Those who have one don't ask and are fine. They could probably also get away with it by using USB-A cables instead of USB-C ones, as arguing that USB chargers are ubiquitous is easier than making the same argument with USB-C ones. I think either approach would end up working for them and having similar results.

          1. NATTtrash Silver badge

            ...to allow people to present a receipt, serial number, or some other single-use validator for an iPhone to receive a free charging block.

            I came to the same conclusion. After all, they have stores full of Geniuses, so it should be a plan easy to implement.

            And Apple will probably like it. After all, just as with insurance, if people don't make use of it, and don't pick up the charger, it is money in the bank. Then again, the way things are going nowadays: before we know it, they will introduce a subscription fee to charge your iThing at all...

        2. Mascal4

          Not extra.

          I just upgraded to a Samsung S22+. It did not come with a charger. I made the mistake of giving away to a family member my previous S10+, with its charger. I had to purchase a charger. I will be paying £40+ per month for a product that I have to purchase an accessory to be able to use. Don't you see anything wrong with that?

          1. ChrisC Silver badge

            Re: Not extra.

            No. Next question...

            OK, you want a more fuller answer than that? There are many things you can buy today (some of which are rather more expensive than a phone) which, on their own, are almost or entirely useless without the provision of something else. Purchasers don't expect those products to come with everything they need in the box, it's just a given that they'll have to provide something else themselves.

            Whilst this wasn't the case for mobile phones in the past, there's no reason why they should remain immune from this moving forwards, especially given the move to standardise on USB charging vs the myriad of manufacturer-specific chargers of old, combined with the ubiquitousness of USB ports - even if someone doesn't have a dedicated USB *charger* on hand, there's an ever increasing likelihood they'll have access to a USB *port* somewhere which would at least provide the ability to slow-charge their phone.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      I wonder if Tesla will be required to sell their EVs including a home charger. Perhaps then all cars should come with a filling station.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: "Perhaps then all cars should come with a filling station"

        That would be like requiring a phone to bring a power plant with it.

        Electric cars come with a charging cable to plug them to mains, the home charger is optional.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: "Perhaps then all cars should come with a filling station"

          Phones come with a cable to plug them into any USB power outlet. The wall charger is optional.

          The power plant thing is ridiculous.

      2. botfap

        Tesla already do supply home chargers with all their vehicles in the UK and have done for years

    3. DJO Silver badge

      Shouldn't be too difficult to include a charger by default but give the customer the option of a (say) $20 discount /rebate if they forego the charger.

      1. BrownishMonstr

        Twenty dollars?

        It'll cost peanuts for Apple to add a charger The cost in manufacturing, packaging, and transporting it will be less than that if it was included with the phone. It will cost the consumer more to buy it separate, plus more packaging going into the bin.

        Plus, I don't buy a phone every year, so a new cable I can keep on to, in case one of my other ones break, would be nice.

        To be honest, were Apple to supply decent cables I probably wouldn't have as much of an issue.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          indeed- I think I have a couple OEM apple cables lying around in a drawer for the rare occasion I have to do a restore on a borked device; I use a decent quality third party 'certified' compatible charge/data cable for day to day operations.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sigh

        If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that "shouldn't be too difficult" is no measure of whether anything actually gets done.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: Sigh

          Unfortunately far too true.

    4. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      Just curious, if they sold two versions:

      One - Iphone alone. Really just the Phone.

      Two - Iphone and charger Bundle. And the Charger can even be in a separate box just tied to the phone box by the packaging.

      Would that meet the requirements? I'd think it would, and also give the Environmental benefits. Hell the bundle could even cost more then the phone alone, and I would guess that would still work. Anyone who needs the charger gets it, anyone who doesnt, goes the cheaper option.

      This seems a really daft ruling, unless Apple have been hiding the fact that they dont put a charger in (so some deceptive advertising), but at least where I am (Europe) Apple have been very clear they arent including chargers anymore. I think it's even on the phone packaging. So, at least I doubt that's the reason, but who knows with Apple. I guess the reality Distortion Field is not so strong in Brazil...

    5. ChrisC Silver badge

      If you were to walk into a mobile phone shop, grab every single phone out of their stockroom, and try powering them up straight out of the box without them having gone anywhere near a charger, chances are that you'd soon discover how quickly the local police can show up to a store that thinks its being raided, but also and more pertinently to this discussion, you'd also discover that all but a handful will not only power up but also remain powered up and fully useable for a good few hours until their initial battery charge depletes.

      In other words, a new phone that someone has just purchased almost never *requires* a charger in order to be functional out of the box, and the absence of a charger in the box also doesn't mean that the phone itself is incomplete - it's only if you consider the "product" to be something more than the phone itself that the absence of a charger could then reasonably be considered to render the product incomplete, which surely then comes down to how clearly this change in charger bundling has been communicated to Brazilian consumers, and whether they're likely to still believe that buying a "phone" actually means "phone + charger".

      You have to wonder what their stance is on other consumer products where additional products would need to either already be owned, or be provided seperately, in order for said product to be of any use whatsoever. e.g. DVD players - I doubt anyone in the Brazilian government expects them to come complete with a selection of discs and a TV set...

      1. brotherelf

        As much as I'd like to see that, I consider it perfectly plausible that a shrink-wrapped phone's batteries are "nominally empty" (beyond a factory QC test charge) by design, if only because they have been through some sort of shipping process, which may have different regulations for charged and uncharged Li-Pos/Li-Ions.

        I'm pretty sure my last phone was uncharged, as were my last couple of laptops, as were the smartwatch and the gaming console. Not 100% sure about the e-reader.

    6. big_D Silver badge

      Maybe they should talk to Germany and the EU. They claim several thousand tonnes of e-waste saved every year by not including chargers in the box for electronics goods with batteries & using standard USB-C chargers/cables.

      My last 2 phones didn't have chargers (Samsung Galaxy S20+ & iPhone 13 Pro). I already had 3 or 4 kicking around (after doing a clean-out and getting rid of around a dozen chargers. Since then, I've replaced a couple of those with 3 or 4 port GAN chargers, so I can charge multiple devices from 1 socket at the same time.

    7. Joe Gurman

      The Bolsonaro regime

      ....is pretty much about destroying the Amazon basin, and thus the world, so I wouldn't rush to trust their definition of "environmental benefit."

  2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Donations

    I've got a drawerfull of USB chargers they can have if they send me a shipping label.

    1. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Donations

      I have a drawer full too. And I am damn glad to have them.

      A wall wart power supply failed on a firewall I maintain at a small business. That created a cascading outage that impacted other systems. I rifled through my drawer, found an appropriate power supply, and had the site back up in minutes. New wall wart arrived via Amazon a couple days later.

      Bottom line is these power supplies are consumable devices that do not last forever. Ship the phone with a new one, and I'll keep my drawer of spares.

  3. Snowy Silver badge
    Coat

    The rest

    I think just about everyone else does not include a charger, are they going to get a fine too?

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: The rest

      My last 3 Androids included a charger, including my current Pixel 5a

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The rest

        And how many of those are now collecting dust in a drawer soimewhere? That was the whole point of the EU idea of mandating one specific power socket which means you'll end up with lots of spares you will eventually throw away. Brazil apparently wants that.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: The rest

          Chargers don't last forever. I generally find the insulation cracked and often actual wires fraying out, at the device end, within about two years.

          Anyone tries to sell me a phone without a charger, they'd best be prepared for a Scene.

          1. JDPower666 Silver badge

            Re: The rest

            What the hell are you doing with your chargers, playing swingball? I've never had a charger fail, crack or fray.

            1. Joe W Silver badge

              Re: The rest

              Wires fraying out? My phone chargers for the last... 20 years or so (after I had to say goodbye to my rugged Siemens and bought my first smart phone) consisted of a little box you plug into a wall socket with a USB port on the side or top, into which you enter the USB cable of your choice (ok, the choice of the phone's / tablet's / mp3 player's manufacturer).

              Yes, I broke one or more of those cables, mostly out of sheer stupidity (knocking the device off a table bent a connector, driving an office chair over a cable, these things), but the actual chargers have soldiered on. Sure, the old ones are not doing "fast" charging, but if I just plug in the phone / bluetoothe headset /tablet/ e-reader over night I care f-all.

              It's still nice to have two or three newer wall-warts in strategic locations around the house.

              1. J. Cook Silver badge
                Go

                Re: The rest

                Yep. I've trashed cables just by use, but still have the dinky little charger that came with it, sitting in a drawer.

                And half the time, I don't even use those anymore, as I've been slowly replacing multi-outlet taps ("power strips" for the americans) with ones that have built-in USB chargers.

            2. MrBanana Silver badge

              Re: The rest

              Chargers fail, some fail badly, some are wired with the output at mains voltage potential, and setting fire to themselves is not a good failure mode. Check out BigClive, DiodeGoneWild and other youTubers with experience of downright bad USB chargers.

          2. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: The rest

            Chargers not lasting forever, then buy a new one when you need one, They don’t last any longer because they are supplied in the same packaging as a phone.

          3. Test Man

            Re: The rest

            There's these things called shops, and they sell multiple things, one of which are chargers.

            Was solved decades ago. So you don't have a problem in that regard.

          4. gotes

            Re: The rest

            Chargers don't last forever.

            In my experience, they last longer than phones.

      2. Test Man

        Re: The rest

        My last one didn't - Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

      3. Snowy Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: The rest

        The Pixel 5a is now over a year old and when it come out there was a charger in the box and about everyone did this.

        The updated version of the phone the Pixel 6a does not come with a charger. The change to not putting a charger in the box with the phone is a very recent thing, if when you next look to buy a phone it is likely many will not come with a charger.

    2. NightFox

      Re: The rest

      Agree, this sounds like a case of just going for a high-profile target for the visibility it brings. If I think of things like bike computers, smart watches and general USB-powered tat I've purchased over the last few years, I don't think any of them have come with a charger.

      Of course, Apple doesn't help itself by not adopting USB-C for iPhones (yet...), so many people will still want a dedicated charger with their Lightning cable plugged into it, but I'd still reckon that the majority of those people will already have one. If they don't, I've got 14 spare sat in my cupboard at home right now.

      I think there's an argument that if something requires permanent power over USB, then a charger should be provided. However, where it's effectively a battery-operated device which in 'the olden days' would have had a user-replaceable battery (with dead batteries usually going to landfill) but is now fitted with a USB-powered rechargeable battery, then providing a charger in every instance just seems to negate any environmental benefit.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: The rest

        One thing that may be considered here is that Apple's including a USB-C to Lightning cable in the box now, which means that to use that, you'll need a charger with a USB-C port. I have ten blocks with USB-A ports, and I have a USB-A to Lightning cable (my iPhone is old enough that they were still shipping those, and although the one they sent was damaged long ago, I replaced it with another). I don't have any wall adapters with a USB-C port on it. I'm sure they exist, but I've not seen them used by anything. I do have a laptop with a USB-C port, so I suppose I'd have to use that to charge if I only had the cable Apple includes available. I'm not sure why they felt it necessary to go that way instead of using USB-A on the power source end as pretty much everything else does.

  4. aerogems Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Simple Compromise?

    Apple throws in a voucher code to units headed to Brazil that can be used to get the AC adapter component free on the Apple online store. It effectively makes the devices “complete” while also preserving the environmental impact reduction. Which, let’s face it, is just a happy coincidence to it allowing Apple to shave a couple dollars off the iPhone BOM which goes right to the bottom line because they certainly aren’t reducing MSRPs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple Compromise?

      I like the voucher idea - definitely a better solution than adding chargers.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Simple Compromise?

      Would the voucher be for Apple branded chargers? These are more expensive than perfectly adequate other ones. I think most people would use the voucher and resell the charger if they are Apple branded.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple Compromise?

        I agree. I contracted for an outfit that provided iPhones as company phones, and they originally provided original Apple USB-C chargers with each phone, which are 20W. Then we got 30W USB-C chargers (I think Otterbox or something) and they were cheaper but also quicker because they also provide from 3A at 9V to 1.5A at 20V.

        I think that was the last time they bought original Apple chargers :)

    3. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Simple Compromise?

      NIce idea, but think of all the extra energy expended with shipping just one little charger, packaging and administrative work... I wonder if there is a break even point?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Simple Compromise?

        Apple already make those and ship them to stores. Nobody buys that when another one is just fine, but you can. They have already incurred the impact in order to sell it to someone who doesn't have a block that works with the included cable, so the only risk is if a lot more people ask for them when they're free.

    4. Rafael #872397
      Pint

      Re: Simple Compromise?

      Just for reference: the basic iPhone 13 mini costs 699 US dollars in the US store. It sells for 6599 Brazilian reais.

      According to Google's currency converter, 6599 Brazilian reais is 1257.34 US dollars.

      I know that there are many taxes on electronics in Brazil, but at that price range, they could at least include a voucher. The charger bought separately goes for the equivalent of 36,39 dollars.

      Icon because you can get lots of good beer in a local pub for 36,39 dollars.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Simple Compromise?

        I prefer XE, which gives USD 1,257.3661, close enough, especially with the time difference.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy Fix

    If Apple are truly doing this to help the environment, just make it an optional and no additional cost item when buying a phone. Tick a box, "Yes, I need a charger (no extra charge)", or "No, I don't need a charger"

    1. Howard Sway Silver badge

      Re: Easy Fix

      The problem with that is that everybody would tick the "Yes, I need a charger (no extra charge)" box, then sell the official Apple charger on eBay if they didn't need it. Just offer the option of Phone + Charger or a cheaper Phone without charger option.

      1. Dinanziame Silver badge

        Re: Easy Fix

        What's the problem with selling chargers on eBay? It serves the purpose of producing less chargers to help the environment.

  6. DS999 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Do they require selling a gas pump with every new car?

    Apple could include a certificate for a free charger with iPhone sold in Brazil, but I think this is a stupid ruling. I've probably got a dozen USB chargers, and just acquired two more last week when I bought a Bluetooth transmitter that's powered by USB and a Bluetooth wireless speaker that's charged by USB. *sigh*

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do they require selling a gas pump with every new car?

      While I like bashing both Apple and bureaucrats alike, the Apple charger will be an order of magnitude better than the one you got with your bluetooth transmitter. Supplying Apple chargers is a safety win for consumers.

      Had a lithium battery charger go up in smoke (literally we smelt burning plastic and ran around looking for the offending item). When I took it apart:

      - Fault was probably under-rated output diode made it fail, shorting out the lithium battery pack. Luckily the piss thin wire was limiting the current and we got to it before it was able to start a fire

      - creepage distances are illegal and unsafe. It had creepage slots, but they were in the wrong place to do anything.

      - not a single EMI/RFI suppression component, not even the blue caps across the transformer. PCB has holes for some of them (not all you need to be compliant) but not fitted on this build.

      - Drive side had clearly been running well hot, and unlikely to last very long

      - no apparent primary side fusible component or pcb trace

      - A casual test of the plastic case it did not self extinguish when lit.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Do they require selling a gas pump with every new car?

        I agree the Apple chargers are better, but I already HAVE a half dozen Apple chargers from past iPhone purchases.

  7. EricB123 Bronze badge

    Well duh!

    I've got an idea. Made the phone repairable (for less then the cost of a new one, hopefully). THAT would greatly reduce waste, while the new phone could include a modern, higher wattage charger that the newer phones require.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well duh!

      I down voted you because that way lies madness and total societal collapse. How would Tim eke out a sad and impoverished existence on his last few billion? We can't risk it. Won't somebody think of the children?

  8. TheProf
    Facepalm

    It's not just about you

    "Why on earth I would need an extra power supply while I already have (a) the old one and (b) many devices with either USB-A or USB-C format ports is beyond me"

    Good for you. You don't need to add to the mountain of unwanted chargers. You can send one to the bloke in Brazil who's just decided to replace his decade old Nokia with its propriety charger.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No, Apple, you may not sell iPhones without chargers

    Apple agrees and increases the price of iphones sold in Brazil by 50 USD (equivalent of).

    ...

    WAIT, why 50?! Make it 100!

    ...

    sales go through the roof.

  10. Monochrome

    Include one and up the price

    Include the charger (doesn't have to be in the same box), increase the price by £30, and offer those who opt not to have the charger a £30 App Store voucher.

    1. DrSunshine0104

      Re: Include one and up the price

      Exactly, not sure why Apple is willing to die on this hill. They included the charger before, when a person walks out the door with their phone, ask do you need a charger too? If they do, great you covered your ass. If they didn't you inflated your price by whatever stupid amount you valued your '2nd-year electrical engineer intern's homework project' premium wall charger which was undoubtedly packed into the price of the phone.

    2. Snowy Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Include one and up the price

      Did apple (or any other phone supplier) drop the price of phones when they stopped selling them with chargers?

  11. mark l 2 Silver badge

    How is it different than the millions of toys that require batteries to work and the box says 'batteries not included' are all those going to be banned from sale in Brazil to?

    1. NightFox

      Not the best argument, as in many countries/market jurisdictions, manufacturers have been required to include batteries for many years now.

      I still remember when in the UK, mains-powered electrical goods frequently came new without a mains plug. Thats was a right PITA and dangerous too, relying on every customer being competent enough to safely wire-up a plug and know not to just leave the 13A fuse fitted that plugs were usually sold with.

      1. MrBanana Silver badge

        "in the UK, mains-powered electrical goods frequently came new without a mains plug."

        Really? In my 50 years experience of *zap* *crikey* that was 240 volts alright. I've never bought a new electrical item that didn't have a mains plug fitted. Not always a moulded one, but never just bare wires.

        1. TheProf

          Yes, really

          You must be a youngster!

          As a child I can remember seeing bare wires on new electrical goods.

          Then there was the scramble to find a screwdriver and something that could donate a plug until a new one could be bought. (Because the brown coat wearing shop boy would ask 'do you need a plug for that?' and the reply was always 'no, I've got a spare one at home.')

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Less stuff = less cost, right?

    I agree they should take out the charger, and make it optional,

    But also reduce the cost of the purchase by the amount of the charger - less accessories included, less cost to purchaser,

    But we all know they won't do step 2.

  13. TimMaher Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Amazon rain forest.

    A typical Brazilian government decision.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A missed opportunity.

    I'd love to see what would happen to a country's government if their actions led to Apple boycotting them and refusing to sell and support in that county ?

  15. Anomalous Cowturd
    Holmes

    Keep tons of electronics out of landfill?

    Here's a better idea: Give us back user removable / replaceable batteries.

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