Android users will have to get used to a future without free accessories

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra back
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra back (Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

So rumor has it that the Galaxy S21 will ship in a box with no charger and no headphones. I'll be frank — I don't believe that will happen this year, but am pretty sure it will happen the next. Samsung has the same incentive to stop giving you everything you need to use your new phone as Apple does, and now it can use the same excuse about how it's great for the environment. It is going to happen and all phone makers will do it, simply because now they can.

But let's say that the rumor is true and you're going to plunk down your hard-earned money on Samsung's flagship (read: expensive) new phone and all you get is a phone, some paperwork you'll never read, and a cable. Maybe a SIM tool, but hey — you have one of those, too. Right? Kidding; SIM tools are cheap so you'll get one of those.

The lack of a charger isn't really a big deal for Android users. At least not as big of a deal as it is for the iPhone, and that's because of two things: Android phones all use the ubiquitous USB-C connector and the charger you have from your last phone is probably some sort of fast charger. As long as the right cable (or a C-to-C cable and an adapter) is included, you'll not miss too much by not getting a new one.

Your two-year-old Samsung charger was a fast charger and even its cable will charge the Galaxy S21.

That's not true for the iPhone because the USB-C to Lightning cable won't work with the charger most iPhone owners already have, and neither will any sort of fast charging. If you want to take advantage of faster charging speeds and a "better" cable interface, you need to have already bought an iPhone 11 or spend some money. The worst part is how Apple is using the excuse that this is good for the environment. It's really all about cutting costs by not including basic accessories and cramming more iPhones into a truck to save on shipping costs.

This is exactly the line Samsung or whoever follows the lead is going to say, so I'm not singling out Apple for being disingenuous. But it's still very anti-consumer.

Samsung Type C Earbuds

Source: Samsung (Image credit: Source: Samsung)

Headphones are another story, though. Apple isn't the first company to stop putting crummy earbuds into the box with the phone. In fact, most Samsung phones don't come with earbuds, either. Even the company's newest and presumably best phone, the Note 20 Ultra, doesn't have headphones in the box (in North America) and you have to request them from Samsung and have them shipped separately.

Cheap Samsung phones come with no earbuds and expensive ones include them.

It sounds to me like Samsung was using a small accessory like headphones as an indicator that you were getting its best phones. You probably never thought about it that way, but when a Galaxy A series phone or the budget Galaxy S20 Fan Edition doesn't come with them but the S20 did, it says something — it says you spent more money so you deserve a pair of earbuds.

Unlike the charger, you might not have a pair of earbuds that work with the S21. There will be no headphone jack on it, so wired earbuds are going to have to be USB-C or Samsung is going to need to spend as much or more money to include a headphone dongle unless they just assume everyone already has Bluetooth headphones or earbuds. I can assure you that this is not the case, and a trip on the subway or the bus will prove it. People will use those cheap earbuds until they fall apart because most people aren't into spending any more money than they need to.

You probably already have wireless earbuds or USB-C earbuds. But not everyone does.

Of course, most people reading Android blogs probably already have a decent set of headphones (decent means anything you like here) and really don't need anything except maybe a dongle if your favorites are still using a regular headphone jack. And if you don't, great wireless earbuds are easy to find. Samsung, interestingly enough, sells the Galaxy Buds which you can slide right into your pocket and forget about how they were left out of the box.

I still think the Galaxy S21 is going to have the same things in the box as the Galaxy S20 did and Samsung is going to use this as a tiny little needle to jab at Apple with for one more year. But don't get used to it, because if not this year then the next, and if not Samsung, then insert your favored brand because all companies are free to do it now. They know we'll buy it anyway.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.