Read up on the seven things you need to know about the USB 3.0, such as what it is, how it looks, and why you should start using one.
In this article:
- What Is USB 3.0?
- When Did the It Come Out?
- What Does It Look Like?
- Who Uses a USB 3.0?
- Where Can I Buy It?
- Why Should I Upgrade to It?
- How Can I Tell If My Device Has a USB 3.0 Port?
USB 3.0: 7 Things You Need to Know About It
1. What Is USB 3.0?
The USB 3.0 is the most current version of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) line. If you own a smartphone, gaming console, or portable hard drive, you probably already own a USB 3.0-type connector without really knowing it.
You usually find a USB 3.0 at the end of most data cables and power connectors. For example, it’s the part of the data cable you plug into a USB port when you’re transferring files from your Android phone to your computer.
Aside from finding them on the ends of power connectors and data cables, many flash drives and data sticks available on the market today are made in the USB 3.0 format.
A USB 3.0 has two parts. There’s the male part called the plug that sticks out at the end of your data cable, connector, or flash drive. Then there’s the female part called the receptacle. Simply put, it’s the USB port on your device where you stick the plug into.
2. When Did the It Come Out?
Seven large tech companies were behind the initial development of the USB. These tech giants came together in 1994 to develop an easier way of connecting external devices to a computer without the fuss of multiple connectors:
By 1996, the USB 1.0 was born, capable of transferring data at a speed of 12 Megabits per second (Mbit/s). This rate may be slow by today’s standards, but it marked the beginning of an era, establishing the USB as a regular built-in feature in computers worldwide.
Developments didn’t stop after the USB 1.0 was released.
Tech giants continued to push the boundaries, leading to the release of the USB 2.0 by the end of 2001. The USB 2.0 achieved data transfer speeds of 480 MBit/s, which is almost 40 times faster than the previous version.
Specs for the USB 3.0 were released in November 2008, almost 7 years after the USB 2.0 became commercially available. The long wait was worth it, given that the USB 3.0s featured great leaps of improvement compared to the USB 2.0:
- Faster data transfer rate at 5 Gbit/s
- Lower power consumption
- Higher power output
- Complete backward compatibility
It was two years later when gadget manufactures released their first set of USB 3.0-enabled devices.
3. What Does It Look Like?
To date, there are four types of widely used USB 3.0 connectors. You can distinguish one from the other based on how their plugs look.
Type-A is easily the most recognizable USB 3.0 connector. Its design hasn’t changed since it was released back in 1994. Similar to the one found on the end of flash drives, a Type-A USB 3.0 has a blue-colored rectangular with nine built-in pins.
You can find Type-A USBs on the ends of these devices:
- Computer mouse
- Flash drives
Compared to the Type-A, Type-B USBs are smaller and more compact. Their plugs are two-part, a small rectangular notch atop a slightly larger square main body.
You typically find the Type-B connector at the end of the data cables of printers and scanners.
Like the Type-B connector, Micro-B USBs also come in two parts. Imagine a Micro-B connector with a much smaller plug stuck right beside it.
Micro-B 3.0 USBs are usually used as connectors for external hard drives, but they’re slowly making their way to smartphones and other handheld gadgets, too.
The last type of connector is called the USB Type-C, which came out in the later part of the year 2014. It has a very small rectangular plug with rounded corners.
Unlike the other three connector types, the USB Type-C plug is orientation and direction-free so you can stick it into the USB port in whichever direction. You’ll usually find USB Type-C connectors on the ends of Android phone power cables.
4. Who Uses a USB 3.0?
You don’t have to be tech-savvy to be able to use a 3.0-type USB. Since this connector is so common nowadays, almost anyone with a data connector, power cable, or flash drive uses a USB 3.0 without even knowing it.
For one, you’re probably and unknowingly using a USB 3.0 when you plug a wired mouse or keyboard into your PC. The cord you use to charge your Android phone might even be a Type-C USB!
The flash drive you’re saving your files on right now probably has a USB 3.0 connector.
5. Where Can I Buy It?
If you’re looking for a USB 3.0-fitted power connector, data cable, or flash drive, try visiting your local department store. You can proceed directly to their electronics section or ask an employee for assistance.
Here’s a list of department stores you can check out if you’re looking for a USB 3.0 flash drive or connector:
- Best Buy
Make sure to bring your device when you make your way to the department store. This way, you can get the right USB 3.0 type of connector compatible with your device.
When a USB 3.0 connector for your device isn’t available at any of the walk-in stores near you, you can easily get one online. Log onto any of these online retail sites to see whether the USB 3.0 connector you want is in-stock:
6. Why Should I Upgrade to It?
A while back, we mentioned the upgrades developers built into the USB 3.0, which made it superior to the USB 2.0. These upgrades, namely faster data transfer rates, lower power consumption, and higher power output, make switching to using a USB 3.0 worthwhile.
For one, cords fitted with a USB 3.0 connector lets you transfer data much faster compared to when you’re using a USB 2.0 connector.
With this connector version, you can copy or save files into your external hard drive quicker. You can even watch an HD movie straight from your external hard drive without needing to copy it onto your computer first.
These connectors also consume less power compared to older USB versions. For example, if you’re editing a file straight from your 3.0 flash drive, you don’t have to worry about the device draining your laptop’s charge.
Power cables fitted with a USB 3.0 connector are also capable of delivering higher amounts of power. So, if you’re charging your phone with a USB 3.0 cord, expect it to go up to 100% in a shorter amount of time compared to USB 2.0 power cords.
7. How Can I Tell If My Device Has a USB 3.0 Port?
Most USB 3.0-compatible ports built into devices such as computers, printers, and other electronic gadgets are blue. Manufacturers do this to match the color used by many USB 3.0 connectors.
Another way to tell when a USB port is 3.0-compatible is if it has the initials “SS” embedded on it. These initials stand for “SuperSpeed”, the alternative name for USB 3.0 connectors.
Don’t worry if you can’t find the “SS” initials or a blue-colored port anywhere on your device. Since these connectors are backward compatible, meaning you can still plug them in ports designed for 2.0 and even 1.0 connectors.
Almost every device these days has a USB 3.0 connector. You can find them on commonly-used items such as data cables, power connectors, and flash drives, which is why it’s important to at least be familiar with what the USB 3.0 does and how it looks like. We hope this article helped you understand more about these connectors and how upgrading to one can really benefit you.
Do you have any more questions about the USB 3.0? Ask them in the comments section below!