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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
Jerry Hildenbrand

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.

39 Comments
  • Would be rad if they could have it with options. Like by as a bundle for this price with the charger, then add the buds for this price. Or for the cheapest option get the device only.
  • Carriers have had accessory bundles before.
  • No crap... Not exactly what's being talked about though...
  • Please do not send me anymore accessories. I now have a drawer full of cords, charging bricks, instructions, connectors, adapters and crappy headphones. I think people are complaining because...people complain.
  • I have enough chargers and cables already. I don't need my next phone to come with them. I don't really want a pair of earbuds I won't use either. But it would be nice to have a bundle option with those items
  • Since they are sending you less, they will be charging less... right? Lol.
    I still remember unboxing my HTC U11: Phone, fast charger, beefy cable, SIM tool, best earbuds in the world, hi-res audio certified 3.5 mm headphone adapter that was better than any headphone jack produced by Samsung or Apple, a cleaning cloth, AND a case. Guess those days are over.
  • Yes I remember those days that manufactures include even the case..
  • I have several Moto turbo chargers that I bought because my G7s battery life sucked and I needed chargers everywhere. Turns out they work great on my LG G8 whose battery life sucks less but sorta sucks anyway. As long as I buy phones that use fast charge 3.0 type C then im good to go. But dammit it's the principle of the thing. Time for the villagers to get the pitchforks and torches.
  • I mean sure... Since all manufacturers have agreed to use A SINGLE CHARGING SPEC. /s
    They haven't even agreed to a single treatment of audio either. I would say "optional accessories" are acceptable if AND ONLY IF people have owned 2 or MORE years of the actual tech. ie note 10 and note 20 shipped with 25w power blocks. Samsung uses a proprietary spec though! But once you switch to a new spec and you happily skip home with your new $1100+ phone, you are condemned to charge with essentially an IPhone 5w brick cuz you don't own any of the new ones? That is disgusting.
  • I'm all for it.
  • Steve Jobs, is that you?
  • Nope. When I got the original first gen Moto Z Force Droid, it shipped with a USB-C charger. I ended up using that charger with my Moto Z2 Play and now with my Moto Z4. The chargers for the Z2 Play and Z4 are still in the box. My wife went from Pixel to Pixel 2 XL. I'm 99% sure the charger for her Pixel 2 XL is still in the box. In the meantime, I also got addicted to buying USB-C chargers from Anker, Aukey, and RAVPower as spares. 2 years ago, I got an iPhone XR. The 5W brick is in the box. I just got better cables from Anker and Aukey, USB-A and USB-C. Even without buying third-party, we would have always had something to charge our new phones with.
  • They thought they were smart and raised prices over $1000. And people still bought them, but people are not upgrading as often. That makes sales go down. So they are doing what most greedy companies do and that is to cut corners and sell less for the same price. When that doesn't work they will have to lower prices again. They enjoyed the riches when everyone was buying new phones every year and discover that what many others eventually learn. Your not at the top forever as someone will offer better and more for less and you'll be left explaining how that happened to your board members. Sony, Nokia, HTC, Motorola and more learned the lesson. I stopped upgrading because $1000+ every year is too much when I can buy a Laptop, Drone, Car Stereo, 70" 4k tv , Washer, Dryer, Full Frame Mirror-less camera etc. People will compare their purchases and spend wise, especially after Covid and loss of income. The fat hogs are the first to be slaughtered. The circle of electronics...lol
  • Not that I’m defending Apple here ... but why is it that every single blogger that highlights Apple’s inclusion of a USB-C to lightning cable as a problem (“the USB-C to Lightning cable won't work with the charger most iPhone owners already have”) somehow misses the fact that in addition to the old charger, an iPhone user is likely to have a USB-A to lightning cable *already*. Apple doesn’t include the USB-C to lightning cable for existing iPhone users who are upgrading. They are including the cable for *Android* users who are switching to iPhone. Those Android users are likely to have a USB-C charger, but won’t have a USB-C to lightning cable to match it.
  • Because it's easier to bash Apple.
  • And because they know Android is next...lol
  • When you say BUT,you are defending Apple 🍎
  • No, I’m criticizing the reporting. There’s a difference.
  • Because it will charge ridiculously slow. I mentioned that: 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.
  • iPhone 11 didn't come with an 18W charger though. Only the 11 Pro models did.
  • Yep, I have a USB A to Lightning cable. Bought from a store because the original cable failed. You are forgetting that original cables from the iPhone X and prior are two years old or more, and they wear out more because iPhones need charging more often. Speaking as an iPhone user since the 3GS with a rack of iPhones right in front of me.
  • Iphones don't need charging more often
  • I still have all those bundled headphones going back to my first S3, thrown in a drawer in their original plastic. I don't use them, never have, probably never will. Chargers - Without a charger a phone is just a brick. Unless phone buying becomes truly a la carte, a charger should be included with. At the very least, make sure the customer knows it is not included, and make sure an option to buy one with the phone is available when it is purchased.
  • A charger is NOT an accessory! It's critical to the function of the device. They'll probably make the argument that this is similar to selling any electronic device where "batteries aren't included" and since chargers are not proprietary anymore, then they can be purchased anywhere like a battery for your TV remote control.
    And that's when i stop upgrading every year or every other year for that matter. And when i do upgrade it will be with s manufacturer who includes the charger.
  • Batteries are critical to the function of many electronic devices, yet many of these devices have “batteries not included” written on the front of the box.
  • The difference is batteries do not last for the lifetime of a product. With care, to chargers do.
  • Accessories were never "free". You paid for them, alright. But now you'll pay the same amount of money, and OEMs will keep the extra profit.
  • Or it will help keep costs down.
  • Chances are people have cables lying around. If someone uses Apple products they have tons of cables and vice versa with android phones. I fail to see the problem. I’m sure when Google does this with the pixel phones it will be all praise for them saving the environment. Just another piss and moan article
  • When Google does this I'll write the same thing. No company that sells a product that requires cobalt cares about the environment or labor laws. Saying something like "oh the box is recycled" is only done to dupe people into thinking a company cares. In this case, Apple did it so the box would be smaller so more fit on a truck or in a container. Apple saves a shit-ton of shipping costs and charges the same for the phone. Samsung will do the same, Google will do the same, and every company selling phones will do the same. None care about anything except the bottom line.
  • Thank you for pointing it out Jerry. Miss me with all the because we care about the environment excuse. Have you seen the damage cobalt mining is doing to the environment and the little Congolese kids out of school who get paid 5 cents to do it? I live in Africa and I know first hand that big business does not give a hoot about the environment. All the eco friendly, recyclable package talk are to fool the gullible into thinking they care. They don't! Only thing they care about is profits so any excuse for not shipping accessories is nothing more than another money grab attempt at maximising profit, it's certainly not because they "care".
  • Expected and honestly won't be a huge deal for most folks I don't think. I literally have a shoebox full of power bricks/cables/adapters etc. Last few phones we got I didn't even bother taking the chargers out of the box.
  • What next, optional screen? It's pathetic and a money grab. Phones need to be charged...period.
  • "Apple isn't the first company to stop putting crummy earbuds into the box with the phone"
    earPods have little to offer music lovers, but at least they were fairly comfortable and good for phone calls. Samsung's AKG earbuds felt more expensive, but still sounded cheap.
    I guess you'd miss the earbuds more if they sounded better. My wife won't give up her original HTC M8 earbuds because they sound so good. My HTC USonic earbuds sound better than a lot of actual studio headphones I've used through the years, better than my own Sennheiser HD 558's and almost as good as the HD 600.
  • The lack of earphones with Samsung S20fe is literally what is preventing me from buying the phone as a gift for my wife. She currently uses an S8 while I use S10+. Both of these phones have 3.5mm jacks while the S20fe does not. And usb earphones are not common where I live, will be far overpriced and I don't see why I should pay for one anyway. If I get her the phone or would mean she would not have access to earphones to use with the phone. So means no buy for me. Personally, I am sick of companies following trends set by Apple that are all done out of greed and benefit no one other than the company.
  • You can buy USB buds online
  • If you pay a premium price, and even for a mid-ranger, the accessories should be included, not "optional". I always keep one or two backup chargers and headphones. And if they add up with each device I purchase, I can always give them away to someone who might need them and can't afford to buy them. In many cases I see these manufacturers getting cheaper and cheaper...in terms of customers, minimum input, maximum output. I can understand why, the market is oversaturated with devices and the profit margins are slimming. And cutting costs, especially for smaller manufacturers, is perhaps crucial to survive or even a thrive. I have less sympathy for Apple, Samsung and Huawei who are large enough to still afford the accessories. What would be more useful to include, if the chargers and headphones are to go the way of the dodo bird, would be a case and a screen protector. Those seem more practical. One last thing, and this is more directed to Apple (but others as well), if you choose to exclude the accessories going forward, please, please stop saying it is for the environment. It's complete and utter bulls*it, and no one believes it anyways.
  • How many iPhone users do you think have a usb-c charger? They are still going to have to buy a charger. They should have included it one more year so the next year they would be out there.
  • How many iPhone users already have something to charge an iPhone?