Why Does It Seem Like Every New Device is Using USB-C?


By: Chris Merritt

If you’re not working in IT or Consumer Technology you may have started to notice that there is another new kind of connection for devices. What started with being in just a small handful of devices has spread now to becoming a very mainstream connection. No longer just something for early adopters – USB-C (a.k.a. USB Type-C) is here.

Let’s start by talking about what it is first. USB-C was first released in 2014 it has really taken until 2016 to really become mainstream. The biggest difference is the connector. It is just about the same size as a Micro USB connector, but it is reversible. It isn’t the size that makes it different – it is power delivery and transfer speeds that are the biggest improvements. And by improvements, I mean massive improvements.

Power delivery is not something new to USB-C. This goes back to the days of USB 2.0 that could carry 2.5 watts of power. This is enough to charge a phone or a tablet. Enter USB-C and it’s ability to deliver 100 watts of power. This is so powerful that Apple and Google have both migrated it to be the main power sources for their laptops. It is also bi-directional so a device and sends OR receives power from another device. This allows for all sorts of possibilities with accessories being able to power devices like laptops from power banks and peripheral devices like monitors being able to power a laptop plugged into it. This technology is referred to as USB-C PD.

In addition to power, and this is where it gets really cool, USB-C also packs a major punch with data transfer. And the best part – these can happen at the same time. USB-C can deliver up USB 3.1 speeds which are 10 Gbps. To give some perspective USB 3.0 which was a game changer when it was introduced was 5 Gbps. For people that don’t speak tech talk, 10 Gbps means that it is REALLY fast. At that speed you can download a 256GB movie in 35 seconds, 4GB of photos in 5 seconds or 8GB of songs in 11 seconds. It is using that bandwidth capacity that allows it send data and charge a device at the same time as well.

Apple has embraced this and outfitted both their MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops to use USB-C exclusively. The MacBook has one port on it and the MacBook Pro has four USB-C ports. When Apple unveiled the new MacBook Pro they put forth the idea that the computer could connect to two 5K monitors and two RAID hard drive systems and run flawlessly. That is an unheard of amount of bandwidth for a laptop and USB-C is to thank for making it a reality.

You may ask now, “What does this all mean and how does it affect me?” With USB-C becoming more and more mainstream it means that more and more devices will start to use it. Android phones are quickly seeing USB-C taking over. With Google introducing the Google Pixel last holiday season, their first smartphone, and today Samsung will release the Galaxy S8 all using USB-C. It is quickly becoming the standard. There are even rumors that Apple could move to using it as soon as this year when they announce their next iPhone in September.

Could you imagine a time when someone could charge their phone with the same power adapter REGARDLESS of the brand? I know, it’s a pretty far out there concept. No longer the divide of Lightning or Micro USB. That time may soon be here.

It doesn’t stop with smartphones and laptops either. Nintendo just released their latest home/mobile gaming console, the Nintendo Switch, and this too uses USB-C. Portable monitors are becoming more of a thing thanks to USB-C.

At Scosche – we’re ready. We have a slew of USB-C cables and accessories available. High bandwidth and standard bandwidth as well as converters from standard USB (USB-A) male to USB-C and USB-A female to USB-C. We also have a USB-C Hub that can allow for a computer to connect a USB-A device, export video to a TV or monitor via HDMI AND charge the laptop via USB-C. For all the USB-C smartphone owners we even have a version of the MagicMount Powerbank available for power on-the-go.

USB-C is the new standard. It is here and it is quickly spreading everywhere. You will find that USB-C will be working it’s way into your life – if it hasn’t already.

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