Vice originally reported that five Chinese students are suing Apple for not included a charger with the iPhone 12. In 2020, Apple will no longer supply EarPods or wall chargers with iPhones, instead preferring to include simply a USB-C to Lightning connector. Apple claims that removing the charger and EarPods will minimize carbon emissions and save raw materials.
There’s considerable doubt over whether Apple did this to save money rather than the environment, because the shift to 5G might make iPhones more expensive to produce. Apple may save money by skipping chargers and EarPods, and making users to buy accessories separately might help improve earnings.
The basis of the students’ court argument, which is part of the Xiaocheng Cup Public Welfare Litigation Competition, is this. The issue is detailed in an article by the Shanghai Law Journal, which notes that one of the students, Xiaofang, was disappointed that her purchase of the iPhone 12 Pro Max didn’t include a charger.
Xiaofang points out that the cable provided with the gadget is a USB-C to Lightning connector, which means it won’t work with the wall chargers that came with prior Apple products (via Shanghai Law Journal). Customers will need to acquire a USB-C compliant charger or a MagSafe charger if they don’t currently have one.
Xiaofang believes that Apple is omitting wall outlets in order to promote its MagSafe chargers, a brand of magnetic chargers that charge your phone wirelessly. She claims that Apple’s choice not to include a charger is driven by business, and that the company is only acting in the name of environmental protection.
Xiaofang and her coworkers filed a complaint with the Beijing Internet Court, demanding that Apple deliver a wall charger and pay a fine of 100 yuan ($16) for breach of contract and litigation costs (via Vice). According to the Shanghai Law Journal, an Apple official stated that selling phones without a charger is usual practice, and that the iPhone 12’s packaging makes it clear that no charger is provided.
The issue is said to be ongoing, and it has since gone viral on the Chinese social networking platform Weibo, where the pupils have received a flood of support (via Global Times). It may seem strange to sue Apple for such a tiny fee, but the message is what important. According to the Global Times, a Chinese student sued the Shanghai Disney Resort in 2019 for only 50 yuan ($7) for refusing to allow guests to carry food inside the park; Disney eventually caved and agreed to pay.
This isn’t the first time Apple has been sued for failing to supply chargers. A Brazilian regulator penalized Apple $2 million earlier this year for neglecting to supply chargers with the iPhone 12, claiming that the company was deceiving customers by selling it without one.