Should I care about USB Type-C?

USB Type-C is now being integrated into smartphones so it seems like an appropriate time to take a look at the advantages of this new connector and cable.You may be asking whether you should care about USB Type-C and further understanding of this standard and what it means will give you the confidence to decide.


What is USB Type-C?


USB Type-C is a design standard that enables manufacturers to tackle the issues of older USB ports and cables. The standard has been designed to ensure that USB Type-C is future proof, making it the only cable that you will need for the next few decades.


The advantages of USB Type-C are:


  • Reversibility – USB Type-C is fully reversible in two ways. Firstly the cable can be inserted either way up as it is symmetrical in design, so there will be no more fiddling around trying to get the cable inserted into the USB port. Secondly, power can travel in either direction, allowing one device to charge another and visa-versa.
  • Fast charging – USB Type-C enables much faster charging of devices.
  • Data transfer – Data transfer rates can be increased to levels where a movie could be transferred from one device to another in only a second.
  • Size – According to Brad Saunders, the chairman of USB-IF who publish the guidelines for USB standards, the USB Type-C port is smaller and this will enable the manufacturing of even small smartphones.
  • Simultaneous services – USB Type-C can do more than one thing at once, allowing users to charge and send data at the same time.


Limitations, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB 3.1


There are however limitations that consumers should be aware of. In the case of data transfer speeds we need to highlight that all USB Type-C devices are not the same. USB Type-C is a design standard where as the actual capabilities of the port and cable are highlighted through version numbers. For data transfer speeds the picture is as follows:


  • USB 2.0 – 480Mbps
  • USB 3.0 – 5Gbps
  • USB 3.1 – 10Gbps


The picture is further complicated as the other hardware in the devices connected will also affect the possibility of achieving the above data transfer speeds. This is always restricted by the slowest/weakest element, which in the case of a smartphone is usually the smartphone’s storage chip.


Fast charging

In the case of fast charging, there are multiple levels of power that can be pushed through the USB Type-C cable and port. These will ultimately be restricted by the amount of power that the smartphone’s battery can accept without damaging it.


Additionally, USB version 3.1 it is the only version that can transmit DisplayPort signals at a resolution of 4K, which has four times the definition of Full HD.


So, as we can see the advantages can be limited in various ways and so it is essential to read a review and find out the specifications of a smartphone before committing to a purchase.


Which smartphones have USB Type-C


There are a few smartphones that have USB Type-C and there will likely be many more released in the coming year. The new Windows 10 smartphones have USB Type-C built in (Microsoft Lumia 950 XL, Microsoft Lumia 950 and Microsoft Lumia 550) and the new Android Marshmallow smartphones (Google Nexus 5X made by LG and the Google Nexus 6P made by Huawei) also have USB Type-C.


Written by: Michael Brown

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