What is USB-C and why it will matter to you, soon



There is a change coming

The writing’s on the wall.  There is a new USB standard coming down the road.  The release of the new MacBook sealed it.  USB-C is here to stay and will be everywhere, very soon.  So what is USB-C?  Let’s take a look.

The latest and greatest

USB-C is the latest standard in the USB Cable standard.  All the manufacturers who want to use USB in their devices (read: All of them) agree to these standards and that way the consumer is assured interoperability.  No more hunting for a Samsung or Nokia connector for your phone.  Just grab a USB cable, with the right connector, and off you go. Unless you have an iPhone, that is a whole separate post.

Different USB Connectors

USB-C is faster at transferring data than standard USB, it uses the new USB 3.1 standards for data.  This new and improved speed is several times faster than the old USB 2.0 standard.  The amount of power these cables can handle is higher also, allowing you to charge your device quicker than with the older style connectors.

The single best part, I think, is that the cables are the same on both ends.  No more needing to make sure you have the right end at the right device.  You won’t have the issue of grabbing the USB-A end when you need the micro.  Also, the end itself is round, so there is no wrong way to plug it in.  How many times have you fumbled in the dark, trying to plug in your phone?  Only to have the microUSB be upside down?usb-c-ends

This should also keep these connectors from breaking since people will be less prone to forcing the connector into their device.  It should last longer.

What’s the difference in all the connections?

Isn’t all USB just USB or whatever cable thingy?  No.  There are even differences in the cables and what they can do, beyond the physical differences.  Older USB cables can’t transfer data as fast as the newer ones.  Perhaps you have noticed some of the USB ports on your laptop are blue.  Or they have the USB SS above them.  This shows that the USB port is the new USB 3.0 standard.

USB Laptops

One of the main drivers for the USB-C is the elimination of the charging port on most laptops. By removing it, designers can make the laptop that much thinner.  Also, it moves laptops closer to the smartphone concept of one charger for everything.  This would mean you could bring your power brick along to give a boost to your laptop’s battery.

Ok, but when will this show up?

It’s already happening.  I mentioned the MacBook earlier.  It only has a USB-C port, that’s it.  Nothing else.  On the lower end of the new MacBooks you only get one USB-C port at that.  For everything you might need to plug into the laptop.  Apple makes several dongles now to overcome this shortcoming.  It will only really be a problem till the newer devices starting moving towards USB-C simplicity.

Newer smartphones and laptops from the other manufacturers are starting to show up with USB-C also.  The Google Pixel is an example of a USB-C phone.  The newer Chromebooks and Windows laptops are starting to get USB-C ports, if not their primary power inputs to charge the batteries.

USB-C to USB-A Google Chromebook

Bottom Line

Do you need to rush out and replace all your USB cables with USB-C?  Not yet.  New devices are shipping with the port, but we are a couple of years away from where it really takes off.  For now, if you get something with USB-C, just make sure you buy certified cables.  There are a lot of fakes out there that will damage your device.

Sit back and enjoy watching the connector of the future roll out and slowing take over all our charging and data transferring needs.

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  • Mike, I found the double-sided USB-C to be better built and more fitting as compared to the one-sided micro-USB which we have been using for a long time in smartphones. I am surprised that Samsung stayed with the older type in their S7 range devices while the rest of the competition took on-board the newer type C. Thanks for an informative article.

    • I have not had a chance to really try out USB-C, yet. I have a Google Pixel coming this weekend that will be my first device to make use of it. I hope to have a review up on Monday!

      • Wow, would be really interested in knowing your thoughts on the Pixel. Be honest and let us know what do you think of the much-hyped or truly-deserving device by Google. Cheers.

        • I did my full review, I don’t know if you saw it on my website?