There's some odd, inexplicable fascination with device unboxings – the crinkling of the plastic and paper, watching the device boot up for the very first time or hearing Aaron try to read a device's quick start guide in Spanish. I'm not sure anyone really understands what's so intriguing or fascinating about some random guy opening a box with a phone in it on the Internet. Yet I constantly find myself watching Aaron's (and others') unboxing videos.
Aaron (and every other cell phone unboxer on the Web) tears open the box, throws the standard papers to the side, pulls the phone out and opens the juicy part of the box. Depending on what device it is, this part of the box may be totally empty or could come with various goodies. It never fails, though. People are always upset when the device they've been looking forward to comes in an mostly empty box. And empty boxes are what we're seeing more and more of.
Today, I picked up a Nokia Lumia 900 from the nearest AT&T store (since they weren't open on the phone's release date). The rep who sold the phone to me opened the box (as they normally do) pulled the phone out and sat the phone to the side. I wasn't really paying attention. But once he finished, he handed the box to me and I took a peek inside. Seeing as it was quite a large box, especially in comparison to the Lumia itself, I figured there might be something in the box – those sticky, square phone wipes Nokia was throwing at everyone in Las Vegas, a microfiber cloth, headphones ... anything.
No. Inside of the box was a whole lot of nothing. The entire contents of the box are: the Lumia 900 itself, AC adapter, USB charging cable, Quick Start pamphlet, Product and safety information booklet, a card with information to setup an appointment with Nokia to help "get the most out of your Nokia with Windows Phone" and a SIM card removal tool.
I can't say that I expected much more. After all, the phone with a two-year agreement was just shy of $107 after tax. And the device sans contract is $449.99, which is several hundred dollars cheaper than some of its counterparts. (The Galaxy Note is $649.99 without a contract through AT&T.)
Personally, though, I'm not upset if the phone comes in an empty box. As long as I get a charger (which every phone comes with), I'm generally happy. I'm so used to buying phones without a contract and buying, trading and selling my phones through sites like Craigslist that I don't give an empty box second thought. In fact, I don't care if the phone doesn't even come with a box.
But I am left wondering when and why manufacturers and carriers stopped throwing goodies in the box with new phones. The Palm Pré that I bought from Sprint came with a leather pouch and a strap to keep the USB cable neat and orderly. Most old BlackBerrys use to come with a pouch or holster of some sort and a wired headset. (Man, do I have a ton of those things laying aroud.) Some devices, like Samsung various Samsung devices and some of the most recent HTC devices, come with headphones in the box. This never happens anymore – not even with high profile devices. Just this past Saturday, we learned that HTC doesn't plan on including Beats headphones with their phones in the future. And Samsung headphones being packaged with their devices is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Sure, most people would throw a cheap leather pouch to the side and never use it. The same with the microfiber cloth or a cheap screen protector. These are things that probably cost the manufacturer or carrier a few pennies to throw in. And, yes, a few pennies here and there can turn into a fat wad of money when you're dealing with an order of a few million handsets. But it's the little things like this that can push a device over the top, especially for people who don't buy new phones every few months.
This morning, a cheap leather pouch would have been perfect. While the body of the Lumia 900 is about as solid as it gets, the silver trim around the camera was begging to get scratched; and it did. Not even an hour after walking out of the store, there was a hairline scratch across the chrome, and the phone barely left my pocket between the store and my house. I would have opted for a case from the AT&T store, but they didn't have anything that appealed to me.
Now I have a nice, glaring hairline scratch on my phone.
I can't say I'm overly upset. But I definitely miss the days where boxes were full of cheap, generic goodies – even if I never used them.
What say you, folks? Are you upset when the phone you buy comes with next to nothing in the box? Or are you indifferent about it? If there are headphones or a pouch in the box, do you ever actually use them? Sound off below!