The new USB Type-C standard is still not widely developed in the market, but manufacturers are gradually adopting fresh technology. In smartphones, USB-C can already be called a new trend, because it is not only an advanced charging connector, but also a means to abandon the traditional 3.5 mm headphone port. Today we’ll talk in more detail about USB Type-C, and this article will tell you what it is.
Today, almost all electronic devices are equipped with a USB connector. From desktops to smartphones and a variety of laptop drives. USB is the ubiquitous standard when it comes to connecting peripherals or transferring data between devices. The last major USB update came in 2013 with the release of USB 3.1, followed by the release of the new Type-C connector. As you can see, almost 4 years have passed since then, and Type-C has not taken root.
Currently, devices using the USB Type-C technology can be counted on the fingers on the market. Among computers, these are Apple’s latest MacBooks , Google’s Chromebook Pixel 2 , Samsung’s Notebook 9 line, and several other hybrid devices. Among the smartphones - mainly the flagships of the outgoing year: HTC 10 , LG G5 , Xiaomi Mi5S , Meizu Pro 6 Plus , ASUS Zenfone 3 , OnePlus 3T and Google Pixel .
So why is USB Type-C better than its predecessors? Let's find out.
What is USB Type-C?
USB Type-C is a new and currently growing industry standard for data transfer for computers and mobile devices. The main and most significant innovation of Type-C is a modified connector - universal, symmetrical, able to work on either side. The USB-C connector was coined by the USB Implementers Forum, a group of companies that has developed and certified the new USB standard. It also includes major technology companies, namely Apple, Samsung, Dell, HP, Intel and Microsoft. By the way, this is important to know, because therefore the USB Type-C was easily accepted by most PC manufacturers.
USB-C is the new standard
First of all, you need to know that USB Type-C is the new industry standard. Just like they used to be USB 1.1, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, or the latest USB 3.1. Only previous generations of USB were more focused on increasing the data transfer speed and various other improvements, while Type-C physically changes the design of the connector in the same way as the modifications of the technology - MicroUSB and MiniUSB. However, the decisive difference in this case is that, unlike MicroUSB and MiniUSB, Type-C is aimed at replacing absolutely all standards, on both sides (for example, USB-MicroUSB).
- 24 signal outputs
- USB 3.1 support
- Alternative mode for implementing third-party interfaces
- Speed up to 10 Gbps
- Power transmission up to 100 watts
- Dimensions: 8.34x2.56 mm
USB Type-C and USB 3.1
One of the possible questions unaware of USB Type-C might be something like this: what does USB 3.1 have to do with USB Type-C? The fact is that USB 3.1 is the main data transfer protocol for Type-C. The speed of version 3.1 is 10 Gbit per second - in theory it is 2 times faster than USB 3.0. Another USB 3.1 can be presented in the original connector format - this port is called USB 3.1 Type-A. But today it is much easier to meet USB 3.1 with a universal connector of the new Type-C type.
To better understand why Type-C will replace traditional USB versions, you first need to understand the difference between the two. There are different versions of USB, as well as even different connectors - for example, Type-A and Type-B.
USB versions belong to the general standard, but their difference lies in the maximum data transfer speed and power. Of course, there are many other factors.
Although USB 1.0 is technically the first version of USB, it has not been able to fully enter the market. Instead, a new version of USB 1.1 was released - it just became the first standard that we are all used to. USB 1.1 can transfer data at a speed of 12 Mbps and consumes a maximum of 100 mA of current.
The second version of USB was introduced in April 2000. It provided the standard with a significant increase in maximum data transfer rate - up to 480 Mbps. Also, USB 2.0 has become more powerful, consuming 1.8A at 2.5V.
The USB 3.0 output brought with it not only the expected improvements in data transfer speed and power, but also new types of connectors. Moreover, USB 3.0 even got its color - the new version of the standard was marked in blue to distinguish it from the old generations of USB. USB 3.0 can operate at speeds up to 5 Gbps per second, taking 5V for 1.8A for its operation. By the way, this version was introduced in November 2008.
The newest and best version of USB was released in July 2013, although it is still not used everywhere. USB 3.1 can provide users with a bandwidth of up to 10 Gbps per second with a maximum power consumption of 5V / 1A, or optionally 5A / 12V (60 W) or 20V (100 W).
Type-A is a classic USB interface. The short and rectangular plug has become the original design for USB and to this day remains the standard connector for use at the end of the USB cable host. There are also some variations of Type-A - Mini Type-A and Micro Type-A, but they have never been widely accepted by the public due to the complex nest. Both of these Type-A variations are now deprecated.
If Type-A has become one side of the usual USB cable for us, then Type-B is the other. The original Type-B is a tall connector with beveled top corners. It is commonly found on printers, although in itself it is an extension of the USB 3.0 standard to introduce new connectivity options. Classic MiniUSB and MicroUSB are also available in the Type-B version, along with the absolutely awkward MicroUSB 3.0, which uses additional plugs.
So, after Type-A and Type-B, we obviously came to the latest Type-C. The versions of Type-A and Type-B were supposed to work together with each other through backward compatibility, but the arrival of Type-C completely ruined these plans, since USB-C involves the complete replacement of legacy USB-connection technologies. Type-C was also designed in a special way so that additional options like Mini or Micro were not needed to be released at all. This, again, is due to the intention to replace all current connectors with USB Type-C.
The main feature of the Type-C standard is the versatility or symmetry of the connector. USB-C can be used on both sides like Apple Lightning technology - there are no more special sides for the connection, which are also difficult to find in the dark. Also, the Type-C version is based on USB 3.1, which means supporting all the advantages of the latest version, including the highest speed.
USB-C is still backward compatible with existing USB options, but adapters will certainly be needed for this use case.
Disadvantages of USB Type-C
The problems with the new USB Type-C standard, of course, also exist. One of the main and most serious concerns of the latest version of the technology is called the physical design of the connector - it is very fragile due to the symmetrical design. Apple, despite the same versatility of its Lightning, uses a durable metal plug, which is much more resistant to external influences.
An even more relevant and troubling problem with the USB Type-C is the unregulated operation of the connector, which has led to a number of dangerous accessories on sale. Some of these accessories, through the use of unsupported voltage levels, can “fry” the connected device. For example, this was the case with the magnificent flagship Samsung Galaxy Note 7 at the start, which subsequently began to ignite first, and then completely explode in the hands, trousers, cars and apartments of its owners.
This problem led to the obvious and only solution - a massive ban on the production and sale of non-original accessories supporting USB Type-C. So, if the accessory does not meet the standard specifications of USB Implementers Forum Inc., then the product will not be approved for sale. Also, to verify the working status and authenticity of various third-party accessories, USB-IF introduced 128-bit encrypted software that allows devices with this connector to automatically check the connected device or accessory with USB-C.
- Design. The USB Type-C design is good, but the design has suffered - it's pretty fragile. Apple uses an all-metal plug in its Lightning when the Type-C uses an oval shape with the signal pins in the center.
- The work of the connector. If you allow USB Type-C to work with unsupported voltage levels, then most likely the cable and / or device will catch fire.
- Compatibility. USB Type-C is an innovation in the USB world, but the latest generation leaves the old devices in the past because it does not support working with them.
- Adapters To fully work with USB Type-C on older devices, you will have to buy adapters. This is an additional waste of money.
Benefits of USB Type-C
Despite all of the above, USB Type-C can be confidently called a step forward for the industry. Installing this connector will allow manufacturers to make thinner computers and mobile devices with fewer ports, the highest data transfer speeds and better sound transmission to the headphones. In the future, if the USB Type-C gets out of place, the connector will succeed in replacing not only the 3.5 mm headphone port, but also HDMI - the interface used to transmit video. So USB Type-C will replace the usual connectors today and become the universal standard in any situation.
- Symmetry. USB Type-C allows you to forget about situations when you have to remember which side to insert the cable into the connector. Also, now you can not be afraid not to find the right side of the USB in the dark.
- Compactness. The dimensions of USB Type-C are 8.4 x 2.6 mm - this allows manufacturers to make computers and mobile devices much thinner.
- Universality. Thanks to the integration of a single connector, it will be possible to charge with a single cable both a laptop and a tablet or smartphone.