They’ve already taken our headphones — will they take our charging cables, too?


A disturbing trend that has been sweeping the smartphone world over the past couple of years has been the death of headphones being packaged with devices. It used to be that companies were happy to give you a pair of neatly-wrapped earbuds for your listening pleasure, but most companies have stopped doing this in a consistent manner.

Some select smartphones do still come with headphones, but even that is hit or miss. We saw it with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2: the OEM had no problem supplying headphones with the device, but some carriers elected to exclude them.

It’s almost become a game of cereal treasure hunting: you never know what sort of prize you’re going to find at the bottom (or top, if you play it smart) of the cereal box. Soon enough, those cereal boxes became empty, and if you were lucky enough to see a mail-in promotion for a toy it was a glorious day. The only problem is that cellphones don’t come with mail-in promotions for headphones — if you want one in this day and age, you’re most likely going to have to buy your own.

Headphones are a bit different as they are seen as premium additions that OEMs and carriers don’t have to give us, but what if I told you some carriers were looking to try the same with phone chargers? The benefactor of this horror story is O2, the UK carrier who seems to be spearheading a movement to phase out in-box phone chargers by 2015. The carrier ran a three-month trial where users could decide whether or not their devices came with a phone charger, and a surprising 4 out of every 5 folks declined one.

It’s not that I expect people not to have extra USB cables and charging pucks lying around — I have a few too many laying around myself. But I can’t imagine those little things being such a big inconvenience to the point where someone would outright refuse them. Having extra chargers has saved me in the past when one of my USB cables shortened out or I happened to misplace a charging puck, or when I simply had more than one device to charge at the same time.

Beyond that, you have to think about the phone itself. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy S3 came with a 1A charger, while the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 came with the faster 2A charger in order to charge its bigger battery in a more reasonable amount of time. If I were forced to use a 1A charger with my Galaxy Note 2 I would probably return it.

Different strokes for different folks is always going to be the theme, of course, so if 4 out of 5 people really don’t have an issue with it then I guess I have to live with the fact that I’m in the minority. All I can do is hope that this doesn’t become a trend, and that whatever O2’s looking to do in the future doesn’t affect those of us who actually value getting those extra accessories every time we buy a new device. What say you?

[via WinSource]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. This is seriously ridiculous. I’ve tried looking for Samsung OEM 2A chargers and they don’t even sell them. You’d be forced to go 3rd party.

    1. The carrier would sell them. It would basically be “do you need a charging cable too?” I have so many laying around. it’s such a waste. This is a great idea.

      1. The carriers will sale you one but for how much, $10, $15, $20 or $30. The way carriers tend to price accessories I wouldn’t buy it from them.

        1. So you buy one $10 cord and you’re done. Every new phone you get uses that cord.

          1. Wrong. Look at the iPhone. This article isn’t only talking about Android phones.

          2. It’s about USB to microUSB cables.

          3. Actually no it isn’t. Its about cell phones in general. He only referenced Micro USB cables be its an Android standard and this is an Android news site.

            Nowhere in this article does it state Micro USB only.

          4. because*

          5. I have a cord from my G2. That cord is about to expire. It has a slit at the end that connects to the phone. I don’t think I want that cord anymore. That can become very hazardous. It’s a good thing every new phone comes with a charger. Oh wait…

          6. Buying a new phone is not the only way to get a new cord.

          7. No duh moron! but why the heck should someone have to buy something that is needed to power the phone? and with everything else phones won’t get cheaper and your dumb a will be paying $50+ more off contract anyways for the phone itself due to inflation blah blah and you will still end up paying $20-$30 for something you should have had free! Take your hippy looking self elsewhere with that noise this is AMERICA! I will take my charger with my $6-700 thank you!

          8. This troll seems to think only his opinion matters. There are a lot of people who prefer to have the charger come with the device for convenience and for the simple fact that they prefer using OEM supplied accessories for their device. Different cables supply different amounts of power which could negatively affect the phone in different ways. (Chip, Battery health, how long the battery lasts per charge, etc.) Who should know the correct amount better than the OEM? Also, some people don’t want to spend 1-30 bucks on a charger that should come with the device because it is necessary for it to function. How would you like it if Best Buy sold you a TV with no power cable? Oh but you can get one online.

            Your opinion is your opinion. quit trying to preach it to every person that comments on this thread like its fact.

          9. But buying a new phone guarantees I won’t get no crappy charger that barely charges my phone either. That’s where the real issue is. I don’t want to spend $10 on cords because they are made for older phones. But carriers charge insanely high for stock chargers. An iPhone charger is $40. Really? -_-

          10. My G2x cord and my Galaxy S2 chord are not the same. If I try to charge my Galaxy S2, while turned off, with my G2x chord, the phone goes into download mode.

        2. O2 was supposedly selling the chargers for cost.

          1. I read that on phonearena after I had read this article, but the US carriers like to take as much money as they can from the consumers.

        3. You can bet the price of the phone wouldn’t be any cheaper too.

      2. There is always an idiot among us. How about a car without the gas tank???…Push it??

      3. Do you like paying $30 for a charger everytime you lose one?

    2. 2 amp chargers ARE difficult to find. Toshiba here, 2 amps also.
      I tried my local flea market, but it is difficult to get technical details across to folks who have limited english, and no luck afterward anyway.

    3. Yep, same with the nexus 4, you can’t buy and oem nexus 4 charger.

  2. That would be complete crap! You can never have too many chargers!

  3. wasn’t this being done to reduce impact on environment by reducing how many chargers make their way to the market? This is ridiculous otherwise, good thing here in India headphones and chargers are always packed in, though no carrier influence or subsidies here to stop that.

    1. That is exactly the point. Thats also why the phone makers were forced to introduce 1 standard for charging, micro usb. Its not about making more money, because with proprietor y chargers they would make more. People do not care or are not aware of the impact of those chargers on the environment. Just count how many phone are sold a year, hundreds of millions? thats the same amount of chargers (and crappy headphones, which most people dont use anyway) That amount can be reduced big time by excluding it in the package. This is the responsibility of the big companies(actually everyone) To take the environment into account. This is a good start imo!

      And if you want an OEM charger just keep your current one! A samsung OEM works just as well on a sony, htc, apple phone!

      1. Iirc it was announced a few years ago that half the point of a micro USB standard was to reduce the environmental impact of tech by way of cutting down the amount of chargers being made. Companies we’re all for it also because of the money saving. Oh look, Apple didn’t sign up because they are control freaks, but most others did.

        It’s actually rather shocking that the OP even had to post this article in bewilderment imo. Anyone with any common sense should be able to grasp the grand plan, especially since it was announced years ago along with the benefits.

        The only real issue is the ampage of the charger. As mentioned before. For this reason people may need to buy a higher amp charger, but if you already own one that might charge your new phone slightly slower than an OEM, then it’s your choice. Not everyone has that typical American school of thought that everything has to be instant or faster and bigger to be better. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

  4. I have so many chargers and earbuds lying around my house, I really don’t mind. Leads to less waste in the world and if you’re new to the smartphone world and need a micro usb charger, they’re a couple of dollars on

    1. Take them to your local Salvation Army. They’ll take them off of your hands.

  5. I still know a couple of dumbphone users, and their microUSB chargers don’t have enough ampage to even register as charging on my GNex. Also, in addition to amp differences between chargers there is voltage differences. Different batteries perform (charge,hold,lifetime) optimally under different conditions. I really think this with be at our detriment.

    1. Thank you!! This is the issue with those $1 chargers off the internet. I had one that charged my phone 20% in 8 hours. Yea, never again will I forget my charger at my friends house.

    2. All micro usb chargers are 5 volts. Different amps yes, different voltage no as micro usb has standards.

      1. Actually, there is some variance.. Just because it says 5v, does not mean it is actually 5v. Depending on the quality of the voltage regulator used it could be more/less 20%.

        1. A +/- 20% difference would still be within tolerance. 5.2 volts, or 4.8 volts, still rounds to 5 volts. So Brian saying that micro usb chargers come in different voltages is misleading. You’ll never find one that says 7 volts or something. Only 5 volts, and as you said maybe 20% off if you test one on a meter.

  6. This is a non issue except for iphones who charge allot money just for a usb cable almost every other company has a standard and if I run out of cables I can buy them on ebay for like a dollar a pop. The ear buds are usually absolute Crap.

  7. Give me the charger. I prefer having the oem charger that was made for my device. Besides, I don’t keep phones until they break or are worthless. I keep them until they’re too dated, then sell them, along with the charger. I have no extras.

    1. same here, and here in chile every phone comes with headphones. i couldn’t see that anyway different O_o

    1. The piece that plugs into the wall.

  8. I believe the point of standardizing the charging connection to microusb was that we could get rid of extra chargers. They probably didn’t think of the amperage issue at the time and thought standard 500mA should be enough for everyone.

  9. I think this is ridiculous. Its just a scheme to get you to buy one of their $20 chargers so they make more money. Smart people will go to Amazon anyway. I’ll decide for myself when I have to many USB’s. You could always throw it away or give it to someone.

    1. My friend bought a charger of eBay before. When his phone is charging he can’t use his phone. The screen becomes unresponsive. It has something to do with the amount of power going into the phone. It starts emulating screen touches.

      I had a charger before that was 3rd party. I never used it. Once I left my charger somewhere so was forced to use it. Over night, 8 hours, my phone charged 20 percent. I don’t think I want a 3rd party charger.

      Who’s to say this charger will charge my battery properly? You do know those cheaper cables probably don’t send all the proper information to your phone.

      2 VGA cables, a more expensive one can send the information about the display to the modem. It can tell you the max resolution of the monitor. A cheaper one can only send display data. It doesn’t tell you the max resolution. It’s sending less data. Think about this with your phone.

      I don’t want to continue on with my rant. I’ve already said enough. =.P

      1. I completely agree with you. The least I’ve ever paid for a charger was $3 and it was for an OEM Palm cable from Amazon. Good quality, micro USB, I needed extra chargers, couldn’t pass it up. haha

      2. That’s the problem, most people have no idea what a amp is, and you have to look pretty hard to even find what amperage charger is recommended to use with a particular phone. It’s normally only on the charger they provide, but if you didn’t have it you’d be screwed. Also you have to be careful with third party chargers, many of the ones you find on the internet suck.

  10. You didn’t mention wireless charging. I think it’s a great idea to reduce chargers.

  11. Honest most of the crappy ear buds get thrown away anyways but if the carrier choose not to include them to save a $1 or $2 then they should have passed on the savings to their customers

  12. It is plot to make its watch the unboxing videos.

  13. What tha hail!? I rather have a spare OEM charger rather than some duke-duke-beat-up-useless-make-your-phone-run-horrible-$1-ebay charger.

    Oh HAIL naw!! Lower the price of an OEM charger and then wii’ll talk. And anyways, those people that declined a charger are the same people that ask why does there phone mess up when charging their phone. I hope they all burn in hades.

  14. RyanAIr economics meets the cellphone world.

  15. Then I must be the other one in the minority. My phone would have to come with one and (I’d say 8 times out of 10) the OEM’s make them better than 3rd party! Headphones I can partially deal with, but not a charger.

    1. Yep, cheap 3rd party chargers can actually cause damage to the phone, they’d be doing themselves a disservice, the cost of those chargers is almost certainly less than the cost of RMA’s

  16. I would definitely avoid buying a phone that didn’t come with a charger. A cable and wall wart are super cheap to include, and not doing so is crap.

    OTOH, I’ve never used ear buds that came with a phone.

    1. If my EVO 4G LTE has come with Beats headphones, I might have used them, but most headphones included are crappy.

  17. If they’re offering the phone without the charger for cheaper, I’d consider it. Just depends on how much the discount would be.

  18. Do you buy a new car without a battery….”Nuff said”

    1. No, but you buy a car without jumper cables..
      This isn’t that big of a deal.

      1. Its the point…What’s next….

      2. horrible analogy. you dont hook your car battery up with jumper cables every night to recharge it so your car will run the next morning.

        1. The point being, your phone still comes with a battery. A charging cable is a common, affordable accessory.

          1. The function is not the same as the car’s alternator charges the battery. What on your phone charges it’s battery if there is no charger?

        2. Not necessarily true. That depends on the condition of the vehicle, the starting system, and the battery.

          1. We are talking about buying new phones, so you would compare it to buying a new car, new cars don’t require jumper cables on a normal basis. Not some old piece of junk.

      3. But not a alternator

        1. The alternator analogy is actually pretty accurate. It is the alternator that recharges the battery on a car and without it you wouldn’t get more than a mile. Now say you went to buy a new car and it didn’t come with an alternator. The sales guy tells you to just use the one from your old car. Problem is, there are different alternators for different cars. They are bigger or smaller and have different amperages. Try going to an auto parts store and just ordering an alternator…that’s like buying a generic charger.

      4. A car rarely ever needs to be jumped, moron.

      5. Completely different, the car recharges the battery itself. Jumper cables are only rarely needed. Phone chargers are required to use the phone, and you use them at least once a day most of the time.

        Without a phone charger a phone is a paperweight after one or two days max, not so with cars and jumper cables. I have jumper cables but haven’t used them once in the 5 years I’ve owned my car.

    2. Maybe you should have said “A car is useless without a key just like a phone is useless without its charger because when they are both off(or dead) you can’t use it again without it :).”

      Simple minded trolls always miss the point or just don’t care. Its all about who can make the biggest ass out of themselves towards another person.

  19. I think the day that all mobile phones have Qi charging pre-installed, is the day we will not see chargers sold with phones.

    1. I really doubt that day will ever come, if only because wireless charging is so grossly inefficient

      1. It will get better and that day will come. The tech will be seamless might even be a mouse pad on your desk.

  20. Great, even less for my money. WTF?
    I should be getting the appropriate charger for the device I purchased when I purchase that device, period.
    Headphones? They are usually entirely optional, and the included ones always ALWAYS suck.

  21. Fine, then nock $25 off the phone prices if your gonna do that

    1. $25? With the price hikes of phones? they better knock $250 off the contract price

  22. I know someone who just bought a 7″ Kindle Fire HD and it only came with a USB cable. Is a standard USB port even capable of charging a tablet? I personally could care less about the headphones since pretty much all pack in phones suck anyway. The charger thing is pretty lame though.

    1. A standard computer USB port only outputs 0.5amp, compared to the 1amp that most phones need, and the 2amps that most tablets need, so it’d still charge, just very slowly, and only if the screen is off and cpu/gpu untaxed.

    2. Yes, it will charge your kindle. Won’t charge an iPad though.

  23. You nailed it.

  24. Oh and I like to use the charger that came with the phone. I used 3rd party plugs and shorted out the plug somehow. After 2 returns I gave up.

  25. Beyond playing with the included headphones for the first few days of ownership, I’ve never touched them. I either use Bluetooth (for calls) or aftermarket earphones (for listening to music) that are MUCH more comfortable.

    While I would rather have charging cables included, it’s no big deal. I can pick up some good aftermarket ones from Amazon or ebay for a few dollars.

  26. No charger. What? The headphones are usually crap but no charger. My note 2 also scored me a free flip cover and nfc tabs just for registering.

  27. OK for removing the charger but it must be replaced with a decent TPU case. Otherwise I call it scam. I don’t believe the manufacturer or carrier will lower the price.

    1. No they will raise it and laugh in our faces because simple minded people let this crap happen..

  28. You can buy a good 2.1 amp DUAL-port USB charger from Amazon for only about $10, but I still wouldn’t turn down a free OEM charger unless it meant they’d knock $5 – $10 off the price, but, they won’t.

    I use a $9.99 PowerGen USB charger (1,000 5-star amazon rating) to charge my S3 and Nexus 7 at the same time from one wallwart.

  29. phuq that!! give me my OEM charger. i want a charger that is specified for my device with the proper amperage. one size DOESNT fit all. just because the charger you had for your flip phone fits in your new smartphone doesnt mean its gonna charge as fast or as efficient as an OEM charger.

  30. it wouldn’t be a terrible thing for power like us who have owned several smartphones, but young adults buying their first smartphone don’t have 4 or more extra chargers to not care. but like it was mentioned about the note 2, i would have been pissed if my note 2 didn’t come with that 2A charger. i think it wouldn’t be terrible if they excluded chargers from phones that charged at a standard amperage as long as we saw that money marked off the price of the phone.

  31. Got my free orange cover and tectiles for my Note 2 from Sammy today woot~

  32. I found a lot of statements in this article untrue. I personally hate factory headphones, and will only be happy if the next phone I buy won’t have that excuse for a listening experience.

    On another note – they do offer mail-in promotions for headphones. This is how I got my bluetooth thingy with decent headphones that pairs up with 4 devices and has FM radio in it, when I bought my Sony Ericsson X10. And I still use it, two phones after that.

    But charging cables are necessity, they shouldn’t take them away. At least the charger parts. I have no trouble with not finding a USB cable, but I do like to use an original charger with every device I buy.

  33. I expect to get a charger when I get a new phone.

  34. Didn’t Nintendo pull this crap with one of the 3ds i will not buy a phone or tablet if it doesn’t come with a charger hell Samsung gave me a free cover just to register and headphones came with my Note 2 they get it

  35. My girlfriend got the Kindle fire which doesn’t come with a charger and was trying to charge it with her cell phone charger. She hated it. It was taking longer to charge than to drain the battery, I gave her one of the chargers from my HP touch pad and then all was well. I love OEM chargers for all my devices.

    1. The kindle fire comes with the data cable just not the usb adapter.

      1. the usb charger wall wart is the most important part, the data/charging cables cost next to nothing.

  36. O2 are a terrible company to deal with here in UK. I think the iPhone partnership was when they got too big for their boots (they were the first to get the exclusive 2/3 month) They also had a exclusive 1 month deal with the nexus 4. They are very expensive.

  37. I have in the region of 5-7 spare micro USB chargers. So when o2 told me my HTC one x+ doesn’t come with a charger I wasn’t at all worried. And they offered to sell me one for £2.50 so its not exactly breaking the bank if needed

  38. So they are going to sell us a $700+ paperweight? Boycott these companies.

  39. Greedy Azz Companies! They already charge 3 times more than what its worth! You can bet I would not support that! Would you buy a laptop without the charger? Would you buy a car without the wheels? Would you buy just pieces of fabric since you don’t need them to do the stitching and companies are feeling greedy! No you don’t need that either you sew your own clothes or you walk around naked! that is how stupid this idea is do you all want to be naked because your clothes were just un-stitched/sewed pieces of fabric? Wireless charging is NOT a standard so there is no need for eliminating something required from the box! What happened to the good ol days when I could get everything in the box and not need to deal with cheapo products?

  40. Face it. The Headphones that come with phones are 99% crap, even more crap if they are Beats. I’d rather have no Headphones I need to throw into the garbage since i already have decent Sennheiser, Denon etc….
    With chargers it is a different story though. They can also keep the cables…I do have alot :D

  41. Come on! How dumb is this article….. if u don’t receive a charger for every new device purchase, we whould be using outdated materials. Technology moves so fast that u would have to buy chargers at lease twice a year. Not to mention the fact of you losing one or a part malfunction. Then the OEM’S would charge you $7-8 for each piece and that is $14-16 for a charger and not $10 do we really want to make the rich richer. The guy that stated he had 5 chargers in his statement can’t be looking at the the big picture. Eventually he will be paying that $7-8 ant then it’s to late.

  42. A few years ago apple started the trend of not delivering a charger anymore with their ipods (and maybe iphones too). Many other manufactures followed this trend and you was forced to buy a accessoir to charge your device. Many people hated it and nowadays a charger is back in the package. It would be strange if phone manufactures will make the same mistake again.

  43. Your USB cable got “shortened out”? You must have had the phone too far from the charger. ;-)

  44. Not too concerned about headphones. The vast majority shipped with phones are little more than cr*p. Including Apple’s. As for chargers, I guess it depends on how much the manufacturers are willing to cut the price of the phone by leaving it out. My guess is nothing, so I want the charger. But I’ve got so many I haven’t even taken the one that came with my S3 out of the box.

  45. I myself have about 10 chargers laying around….and i still want my new phone with a charger….you can never have too many chargers! :P

  46. This is great news.

    For starters I have never used the crappy earned that come packaged with phones. Anyone with any appreciation for sound fidelity should have a pair of decent headphones.

    With regards to chargers, with most of the world standardising on micro USB with the exception of one fruit company. Again this is great news. I already have fours charges at home and I don’t need or want another.

    I love gadgets as much as the next phandroid but have you guys any idea what a huge problem e-waste is becoming? OEMS should make it an optional accessory at a reasonable price.

  47. I feel the headphones may be a nice thing for people that just want a free pair of headphones (look at all the people that actually use Apple’s headphones). Now, I have my own pair of headphones, so it doesn’t matter to me.

    The charger, on the other hand, is very important. A lot of my friends just recently switched from a “dumbphone” to an Android, or from iPhone to Android. They would have to buy a charger just to use their new phone. Phones SHOULD come with chargers. I feel like that’s like getting an Xbox and not having a controller to play it with.

  48. The biggest item here is going to be manufacturer warranty issues. They want you to use THEIR charger, not some off-brand cheapo that may have voltage regulation issues or something and wind up damaging the device.

    Of course, they can always just blame the charger and choose to not pay out, but it creates a negative image and that can lead to lost business.

    The bigger point here though is that carriers who handle warranty issues as a middle-man, may not see it as cost-effective to skimp on the chargers in the long run (but charging extra for the charger might be a viable option for them, warning that an improper charger may break the device, and that would not be covered under warranty).

  49. The thing is, all these extra charges are creating a LOT of extra waste, the idea behind this is to cut down on that. I have so many charging pucks I have almost lost count, I don’t need any more, and would be happy to forego more to help out the world a little.

  50. You know what, I like this. We should get rid of waste and make it so that laptops don’t come with chargers either, or shoes that don’t come with shoelaces, we can have televisions that don’t come with screens (everyone already has a TV with a perfectly good screen anyway) and couches that don’t come with cushions. The less to give the customer, the happier they’re going to be, right?

  51. If you check what usb you purchase it won’t f up your phone no matter if you buy it on Amazon or ebay. Dreaming carriers will pass of savings to you is living in lala land. But they will use it to improve the network at least.

  52. I hope this doesn’t become a trend, I buy a new smartphone once a year, which is an improvement on my old every 6 months trend, so I buy and sell phones, people expect that the charger comes with it. Plus it’s not like usb chargers are really the standard they are made out to be, my nexus 4 came with a 1.2a charger, my iPad is a 2.1amp, my kindle is 850ma, old samsung S2 700ma. I once tried charging, my nexus 4 with the old sony charger. It was impossible to charge while using because it didn’t supply enough amps and off it charged really really slow.

    Not to mention the headache for a new smartphone user, it’s annoying enough having to buy new cases and screen protectors every time I get a new phone. and occasionally a new GPS mount if the phone sizes have outgrown my old mount. Headphones that I can live without, I listen to music mostly in the car from my smartphone via an aux cable and I have bluetooth headphones which I prefer for the gym,

  53. im always short of chargers, luck thing that in chile the carriers always give you one

  54. I suppose the more phones move toward induction charging the less a concern this will be. As long as this doesn’t end up being like onboard memory where they seem to think we just don’t need it (whose idea was that?) As long as they are replacing the charger with the ability to use a standard based induction technology, that’s fine by me. Same goes for file transfers – the cable is considerably faster than Bluetooth or NFC. Give me a viable replacement (that isn’t cloud based – I’m SICK of cloud BS – leave my data alone…it’s mine).

  55. it’s a good idea to skip the charger if I can buy one for less than 5$ when I buy the phone. that way I can be green if I choose to. they should prominently advertise the amps of the product as well as the charger so that people can make an informed decision whether to buy one or not.
    headphones are completely useleas and I don’t mind if they skip it

  56. I have no idea why anyone would not want a free charging cable, I love having extras for when I lost/break one. Also even when I don’t lose any for awhile, it’s nice having my charging station setup in my dorm and a spare charger on me for the go

  57. O2 were charging £2.56 I think for chargers which isn’t a substantial amount but when you’re already spending possibly hundreds on a new phone, why should you have to pay even more. I would have declined a charger as well and bought elsewhere. Actually I wouldn’t have bought from O2 at all.

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