Today, we’ll let you in on what you need to know about the USB-C cable — its background, advantages, disadvantages, and applications.
In this article:
- What Is USB-C?
- When Was USB-C First Released?
- What Are the Advantages of Type-C USB Cable?
- Where Does USB-C Cable’s Limitations Lie?
- How Can You Use USB-C with Other Devices?
- Why Is It Often Confused with Micro USB?
- Who Manufactures USB-C-Ready Devices?
Everything You Should Know About the USB-C Cable
What Is USB-C?
USB-C is a connector that transmits power and data. The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) developed this type — they are the same group who developed and certified the USB standard.
USB-C is different from USB 1.1, 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1. While those focus on the connection’s speed, USB-C focuses on the physical aspect of the connection, much like Micro and Mini USBs.
It’s different from other USB variants because it aims to be a replacement for both ends of the cable.
When Was USB-C First Released?
Back in 2014, the USB-C’s specifications were first published, but it started to gain more usage only in 2017.
Now, USB-C is gearing towards replacing older USB standards and other standards as well, like DisplayPort and Thunderbolt. In fact, USB-C may replace even the long-standing 3.5mm audio jack once a new USB audio standard develops.
What Are the Advantages of Type-C USB Cable?
USB-C cable has several advantages that make it an ideal replacement for the various types we’re currently using. Here’s a list of what you can enjoy from this connection:
1. The New Connector Standard It Offers Is Small, Yet Powerful
It’s about the size of a Micro USB and it’s able to support new high-speed standards like USB Power Delivery (PD) and USB 3.1. Both ends of the USB-C cable are the same, and any device should be compatible with it.
2. Its Cable Is Reversible
This feature allows you to get the orientation right the first time you plug it, whichever end of the cable you use. USB-C cables have the kind of circuitry that directs their orientation and routes data and power in the right way.
3. It Can Deliver Power up to 100 Watts
Devices and cables that support both USB PD and USB-C can enjoy power delivery boosted to 100 watts, which is enough to charge a laptop. It’s also bi-directional, enabling a device to both send and receive power.
Data and power can also simultaneously transmit through the connection.
4. It Can Send Simultaneous Power Streams and Video Signals
This means you can power and connect to an HDMI device or a DisplayPort, along with almost any device as long as you have the right cables and adapters. As also mentioned earlier, the specs of USB-C includes audio transmissions as well.
5. You Can Multitask Using a Type-C USB Cable
It’s a digital connection, and it is capable of multitasking for you, especially since it supports various devices. For instance, with your USB-C headphones, you can play music with high-quality sound and simultaneously measure your heart rate and feed the data to your smartphone.
Where Does USB-C Cable’s Limitations Lie?
USB Type-C cable may have great features and benefits, but it’s not in any way perfect. Here are the limitations to consider before buying or using this USB cable type:
1. It’s Not the Same as USB 3.1
That’s why you should pay attention to the details, to ensure that you’re buying cables and devices that support USB 3.1.
2. The USB-C’s Connector Is Not Backwards Compatible
While the physical connector has limitations, the good news is, USB standards like 3.1, 3.0, 2.0, and 1.1 are backward compatible.
You won’t be able to plug early USB devices into USB-C’s port, and you can’t plug the connector of USB-C into a larger and old-style USB port. The solution is to use a physical adapter that has a USB-C connector and an older-style and larger USB port on each end.
3. If It Doesn’t Have a USB-C Plug, You Can’t Connect It
USB-C’s port style is different. This is why you need cables or adapters with both of the required plugs to connect any device that doesn’t have a USB-C plug.
4. Its Physical Design Seems Fragile
One concern raised about this USB cable type is its physical design. There are some who think that the USB-C cable is fragile, with its delicate socket tab and its hollow plug.
5. USB-C Standard’s Unregulated State
For a time, USB-C manufacturers were not regulated properly, which led to concerns on product safety. The good news is, USB-IF finally came up with a new protocol.
This aims to enable devices to perform authentication on the USB-C charger or device connected to it before accepting anything.
How Can You Use USB-C with Other Devices?
What’s good about USB-C is that its ports can support various protocols through what we call “alternate modes.” This means you can have an adapter where you can connect a VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort, and other connections through a single port.
Basically, you can streamline your connections into one type of port only.
If you only have one USB-C port, you can get a multiple USB-C dock. This way, you can multitask — charge your laptop, provide additional support for several monitors, and access extra ports at the same time.
Why Is It Often Confused with Micro USB?
At first glance, you might mistake Micro USB for a USB-C connector because they look similar to each other.
Yet, upon closer inspection, you’ll see that USB-C takes on a more oval shape and is slightly thicker than Micro USB. It’s also a bit bigger in comparison.
Who Manufactures USB-C-Ready Devices?
Computer manufacturers like Apple and Google have products that have USB-C ports. There are also Windows laptops that have this feature.
Some handset manufacturers have already adopted USB-C into their design. You’ll see this in the latest Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy, and OnePlus smartphones.
With its impressive capabilities, USB-C cable is set to take over the older USB standards in the market. As more manufacturers continue to adopt it into their design and specs, it won’t take long for users to shift to Type-C USB cable.
There’s no denying that it’s a great alternative and replacement for the USB standards we’ve gone through. Yet if you plan to convert as a USB-C user, its limitations are still worth considering.
This way, you’ll be able to pick the kind of technology that meets your needs.
What more would you like to learn about USB Type-C cable? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments section below!