Nearly every phone or laptop comes with a USB-C port these days. The popular connector is creating waves in the electronics world and is steadily wiping out other port types. In fact, the European Commission is seeking to implement a law that’ll compel phone manufacturers, including Apple, to adopt USB Type-C as the standard port by 2024.
If you’re yet to wrap your head around USB-C, this is the guide you need to read. By the tail end of this post you’ll learn:
- What is USB-C
- Difference Between USB-C and Other USB Connectors
- What’s the benefits of USB-C
- USB-C Generations
- Next Up: USB4
- What Can I Use USB-C For
Let’s dive right in.
What is USB-C?
USB-C is a new connector that can deliver data and power to and from computing devices in a single cable. Unlike USB A and USB B, a USB Type-C connector is completely reversible, meaning there isn’t a “right side up.” This implies that you can plug it in either way – just like Apple’s Lightning plug – thereby eliminating the inconveniences of previous USB ports.
Launched in August 2014, USB-C is a creation of the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the organization behind the development, certification, and promotion of the USB standard. The USB-IF is a conglomeration of over 700 companies, bringing together brands like Apple, Dell, HP, Samsung, Microsoft, and Intel, which is part of the reasons USB-C has been widely adopted by PC manufactures.
Other devices that support USB Type-C include the latest Android phones, Nintendo Switch, Drones, and Apple products, such as MacBook Pro M1, and iPad 9.
Difference Between USB-C and Other USB Connectors
Indeed, USB connectors can be confusing. Still, you shouldn’t have a problem separating a USB Type-C from earlier USB connectors. Here are the standout features that you need to look out for:
As stated, a USB Type-C connector features an asymmetrical/reversible design and can plug into any USB-C device on either end. The connector comes with a small flat hole in the middle housing 24 pins. Incredibly versatile, USB Type-C is the most common connector on the latest laptops and smartphones.
Micro USB Port
Features a slightly smaller plug than a USB-C, and you can only plug it one way. Notable highlights include multiple hooks at the bottom to hold the cable in place and tapered corners, giving the connector a half-hexagon shape.
The A-style connector is flat and has a rectangular interface. Instead of round pins, the connector comes with flat contacts to withstand continuous attachment and removal. USB-A is arguably the most common USB connection for host controllers in hubs and old computers.
[Related article: USB C vs A vs B: Which One Do You Need for Your Product]
What’s the benefits of USB Type-C?
USB-C has many advantages over other types of connectors, including the port design, charging, data transmission, etc.
User-friendly Design – You can plug in a USB Type-C either way. Unlike older USB cables, it doesn’t matter which side is up with a USB-C. Meanwhile, the round edges allow for faster device connection.
Faster Charging – The new connector can deliver a whopping 240 watts of power, enough to power your laptop. In addition, if your phone comes with a USB-C port, it will charge pretty quickly, thanks to the Type-C port’s remarkable power delivery.
Data Transfer – USB-C thrives on blazing transfer speeds. USB-C can deliver up to 10 Gbps, a significant improvement compared to the old USB-A. Meanwhile, USB4 supports up to 40 Gbps transfer speed.
[Related article: What Are the KEY Benefits of USB Type-C Connector]
USB-C has evolved over the years, causing even more confusion among users. Here’s a look at the evolution of USB standards.
USB 3.2 Gen 1 – Able to deliver SuperSpeed of 5 Gbps, USB 3.2 Gen 1 supports full-duplex communication and can optimize the amount of power available to your connected devices. USB 3.2 Gen 1 offers backward compatibility that enables USB 3.0 to support USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 devices.
USB 3.2 Gen 2 – Offering speeds of up to USB 3.2 Gen 2 is similar to the USB 3.2 Gen 1, only that it offers twice the speed of USB 3.2 Gen 1.
USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 – While USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 allows up to two lanes of 10 Gbps, it can deliver a maximum of 20 Gbps throughput. Still, your USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 has to be connected to achieve these speeds.
USB4 – The USB4 delivers faster speeds, is compatible with Thunderbolt 3, and improved video bandwidth management. USB4 uses two-lane cables to offer speeds of up to 40 Gbps. It can also work with DisplayPort Alt mode 2.0, supporting 8K resolution at 6o HZ with HDR10 color.
Next Up: USB4
With what USB-C has to offer, there are enough reasons to look forward to USB4. For starters, USB4 can transfer data at speeds of up to 40 Gbps. It offers an impressive 240 watts power capability while supporting multiple 4K displays or one 8K display.
Like USB-C, the USB4 will feature a small oblong connection, making it compatible with current devices, including those that support USB 2.0, 3.0, 3.1. Still, you’ll need to invest in the right adapter for devices that don’t have a USB-C port. Further, USB4 runs on Thunderbolt 4 specifications. That way, you can set up bidirectional data lanes for projects that require two-way data flow to avert congestion and jams such as video conferencing.
On top of that, you’ll be able to use Thunderbolt 4 with Thunderbolt devices such as External Graphics Processing Units (eGPUs) and docking stations. Moreover, Thunderbolt 4 will allow you to adjust the dynamic data flow to match your device.
[Related article: What Is USB4 and What Benefits Does It Offer]
What Can I Use USB-C For?
The quest to make the most of USB Type-C starts by getting the right USB-C accessory. That said, here’s a rundown of what you can do with USB-C and what to do to leverage the technology.
USB-C to USB-C Cable
This cable represents the future vision of USB-C in the best possible way. You can use it to power, sync, and charge your devices since one port can fit all devices. Essentially, this means that you might only need this one cable type to connect one device to another in the future.
Apart from connecting device to device, USB-C to USB-C Cable can also connect to a USC-equipped charger and deliver up to 240 watts of fast charging.
USB-C to Lightning Cable
With this cable, you can charge and sync your Apple devices, including iPad, AirPods, iPod touch, and more.
A USB-C to Lightning Cable supports 20W power delivery fast charging for certain iPhone models like the iPhone 13 when connected to USB-C power adapters.
USB-C to HDMI cable
USB-C to HDMI cable allows the laptop or mobile phone to be connected directly to a monitor, TV or projector to deliver the image. Leaving your phone as a computer, you can easily picture it from your cellphone to TV or other devices.
It supports video resolution up to 3840×2160 @ 60Hz(4K * 2K) and full HD 1080P@60Hz.
With a USB-C Hub, you can connect your flash drive, an Ethernet cable, an older wired printer, USB-A mouse, keyword into a single USB-C port at once. It also offers a handy way to add an HDMI connection, SD card reader, or more USB ports for storage.
All USB-C Hubs aren’t built the same, though. When looking for a USB-C Hub, make sure it’s from a reputable brand. Ideally, you’ll want to get a high-quality hub without bending your budget.
[Related article: How To Choose The Best USB-C Hub For Your iPad]
USB-C Ethernet Adapter
This adapter allows you to enjoy stable Wi-Fi signals by ensuring external blockers and interference cause no data loss. It also adds more latency when streaming, thereby boosting transfer speed than when using cables.
In addition, a USB-C Ethernet adapter can come in as a handy, affordable, and efficient alternative if your Wi-Fi is broken or your computer doesn’t come with an Ethernet port.
[Related article: The Complete Guide to a USB Ethernet Adapter]
USB-C Audio Adapter
With a USB-C to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter, you can play music and make calls with most USB-C devices.
The adapter comes with a built-in high-performance DAC chip and is compatible with the 24 bit/96Khz frequency range for richer audio from your devices. And to top it all off, it supports the plug-and-play functionality for ease of use.
USB-C Card Reader
Unlike a standard card reader, a USB-C reader allows you to enjoy fast and efficient data synchronization for your TF/SD cards to a USB-C device.
What’s more, it can read multiple cards simultaneously for any Type-C laptop running on Windows, Mac OS, or Linux. That way, you don’t have to change your flashcards frequently. A USB-C card reader worth your attention should feature at least a USB 3.1 interface and a transmission speed of up to 5 Gbps.
USB-C represents the future of device connectivity and charging of batteries for mobile devices. And, with the release of USB4 and Thunderbolt 4, USB-C, and by extension, what it has to offer will continue to be even more intriguing. So, if you’ve been sitting on the fence, unsure whether to embrace USB-C or not, well, it’s time you hopped onto the bandwagon.