iOS 14.2 adds more evidence iPhone 12 won’t come with EarPods

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Apple's new EarPods brought big improvements over previous versions.
This could be the end of the road for EarPods coming packaged with the iPhone.
Photo: Juanibb/Wikipedia CC

A “minor code tweak” discovered in iOS 14.2 appears to confirm previous reports that Apple will not package EarPods with the iPhone 12.

The rumor was originally suggested by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo back in May. This change in language, hidden in iOS 14.2, seems to lend credence to that idea.

According to MacRumors, the code tweak in iOS 14.2 amends a reference to reduced exposure to RF energy by using the “supplied headphones.” Apple has used similar wording for years. In its place, it now notes that:

“To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, headphones, or other similar accessories.”

That’s not a decisive confirmation, of course. But taken with previous reports it does suggest that EarPods packaged with the iPhone may not be long for this world. That means that the iPhone SE and iPhone 11 models would be the last models to come packaged with earbuds.

Is it a good idea to ditch packaged EarPods with the iPhone?

This isn’t the first time that Apple has ditched components in the iPhone box. The original 2007 iPhone, which started at $499 for the 4GB version, came with an iPhone dock in the box — alongside charging cable, charging brick, and EarPods.

Personally I don’t have an issue with Apple reducing the number of components the iPhone 12 ships with. Most people will, by now, have old wired headphones and a wall charger that they can use. A growing number of people also want AirPods (which, coincidentally, Apple is really keen to sell them). Unless Apple ever plans to package AirPods in the box, which seems unlikely, there’s no reason to include EarPods that many customers simply don’t want to use. It would have been like continuing to include a headphone jack dongle in every subsequent iPhone after Apple ditched the headphone port a few years back. If it means less plastic waste is produced, and that Apple doesn’t increase the price of the iPhone too much, this is a win-win for all involved.

Now would I like to see Apple offer a bundle deal that gives you a reduction on AirPods if you buy them with the iPhone 12? Absolutely. But given the massive demand for them, I don’t know whether Apple will feel the need to add any kind of incentive. Maybe we’ll just get a few more AirPods ads around the holidays.

How do you feel about the decisions to ditch headphones (and, possibly, the charging cable) with the iPhone 12 devices? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.