USB C vs A vs B: Which One Do You Need for Your Product?
Do you get USB type-A confused with USB type-C or B often?
Around the world, the latest figures of smartphone users keep increasing. In 2023, the total number of global smartphone users went up to 6.8 billion. As we see more smartphone users accessing the latest devices, we see more people adopt the USB-C port.
Despite this change, many people still find the varying USB types confusing. Below, we’ve got a guide to help you better understand what makes USB-C vs A vs B different.
Different Definitions of USBs
Before we continue, we want to explain to you the types of USB connectors. First, let’s take a minute to define what USB type means. The term “USB” or “USB type” can mean a variety of things.
1. It refers to the connectors at the end of a USB cable.
2. USB also pertains to the port that we plug a USB cable into.
3. USB type can mean the cable itself.
When you’re referring to the cable, you’ll often call it by the connector’s name, which isn’t the USB-A end. The reason behind this is that USB type-A is already a USB port/connector typically used. Thus, you distinguish the cable by the USB type on the other end.
For example, let’s say you have a USB cable with a USB-A at one end and a USB-C at the other end. When you use this cable, you refer to it as a USB-C cable.
With that said, let’s discuss the various USB connectors.
Identifying Various Types of USB Connectors
Now let’s get down to understanding the different types of USB connectors. The most basic and most common is the USB-A connector:
1. USB-A Connector
Sometimes, people refer to a USB connector as the “male” port. They plug it into the “female” port if they want to use it. These connectors can also get classified as USB 2.0, which is often colored black, or USB 3.0, which is often colored blue.
Since most people today use USB 3.0, we’ll focus on this group of USB connectors only. USB-A 3.0 port is the common type of USB connector used in newer versions of the personal computer. You’ll also often see it at the other end of a USB 3.0 cable.
For most electronics, though, you’ll find that they have a USB type-A connector. They’re often used to connect larger pieces of hardware onto smaller machines. Most cords connect some laptop models to things like an HD PVR and have a USB 2.0 port.
2. USB-B Connector
The USB Type-B connector looks a little less like a USB A and USB-C connector. The male port isn’t as wide as a USB A port, and it also has a tiny rectangular hole in the middle.
These are often used to connect devices to external components like hard drives, optical drives, and even printers.
3. USB-C Connector
The USB-C connector has a flatter and smaller male port. The hole in the middle of the port where the small connector pins will fit into is a small and flat oval hole. The difference between USB-A and USB-C male ports is that USB-A connectors are much larger than USB-C.
This connector features a 24-pin structure, first designed and launched published back in 2014. The USB-C connector is reversible, which makes it more user-friendly. This versatility makes it the most widely used port on the newest smartphones and laptops.
4. Micro USB
Look at your phone and check what shape it has for its charging port. The Micro USB is the most common type of port used by smartphone companies before USB-C.
The Micro USB comes from a union of companies, particularly Intel, Microsoft, Compaq, and IBM. They developed this for devices like office printers, GPS devices, digital cameras, and other office equipment.
5. Mini USB
If you have a product from Japan, you likely have a Mini USB cable for it. The Mini USB has a unique shape and pin combination. It’s a square with flared bottom edges, and it’s a proprietary connector in Japanese cameras.
It first launched back in the year 2000 and was initially meant to function for small electronics. Cameras, early PDA devices, and mobile phones featured the Mini USB the most.
Note that the female ports that correspond to each USB type are the matching port for each type. For example, a Micro USB female port is the compatible port for the Micro USB connector. The terms “male” and “female” are only for the usage of reference of connector and port.
Differences in Data Transfer Speeds
The latest type, USB type-C, has exciting standards such as fast data transfers. The latest USBs version today, which is USB 3.2, allows data transfers of up to 20Gbps.
Now, you may be wondering what USB 3.2 is. Like USB 2.0 and 3.0, USB 3.2 is a generational number for USB standards. It refers to the data transfer speed of the USB connector and not its shape or size.
To sum things up, the latest generation USB-C has transfer speeds up to 20Gbps. This can increase to 40Gbps with the new USB4 variation.
In comparison, older USB-A can only attain speeds up to 20Gbps if it uses the latest 3.2 technology. Most USB-B port types use 3.0 technology. Therefore, they mostly feature transfer speeds up to 5Gbps.
USB-C vs A vs B: Charging Speed
If you have a smartphone with a USB-C port, you likely notice that this device can charge faster. Your USB-C port can also move as much as 100 watts of power over the interface. You can’t find these upgrades in USB types-A and B. That’s not all that the USB-C can do that USB-A and B can’t. The USB-C port can also support Thunderbolt.
This doesn’t only mean you can use it to power up or transfer data from Apple devices. It also means it has added support for up to 40Gbps of throughput and reduced power consumption.
Almost half of the smartphones that got launched in 2020 featured a USB-C port. By 2022, more than 50% of computing devices that support data transmission will likely feature a USB-C port. It’s good news for all users of both Android and iPhone.
USB-C’s Advantage vs USB A and USB B
One of the causes behind the popularity of the USB-C connector is its symmetrical shape. You can’t go wrong with the way you insert a USB-C connector to its port. It’s not like a USB type-A or B connector, which you have to check first before you insert it into the port.
Another reason behind USB-C’s popularity is its application on popular devices. A lot of top-of-the-line smartphones, computers, and game consoles have USB type-C ports. This includes the Samsung Galaxy line, MacBook Pro, and Nintendo Switch.
Over 1000 tech companies, members of the USB-IF, collaborated for widespread adoption of this new connector. That includes big brands like Microsoft, Intel, Dell, Google, HP, Samsung, and Apple. As they take the lead, you can expect that the USB type-C will become the standard and most-used USB type.
USB-A vs B vs C: Which Products Often Use It
If you can’t choose a USB port for your product, you may want to refer to the following lists. Often, the devices that have a USB A port are the following:
- Almost all desktops, laptops, other computers
- Flash drives or memory sticks
- Most tablets
- Game consoles
- DVD and Blu-ray players
- Smart TVs
- Peripherals like keyboards and computer mice
- Other devices like an ergonomic foldable hub-stand
USB type B connectors are often present in the following:
- Projectors with a USB type B port
- Other devices that connect to your computer
The devices that use USB-C include the following:
- Nintendo Switch game console
- Some of the latest smartphones
- Some of the latest laptops
- USB-C Hub for Laptop & Smartphone
The Newest M1 Apple MacBooks also use USB-C. However, many Apple products feature the company’s custom port, the Lightning ports.
Related article: USB-C vs Lightning: What’s the Difference?
Find the Right USB Port for Your Product
That ends our guide on the various USB connector and port types. We hope you have a clearer understanding of the differences between USB-C vs A vs B now.
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