What is USB Type-C? USB-C Buyer’s Guide

Usb-c cable

Last Updated on September 8, 2022 by Josh Mahan

Technology is constantly evolving, so buyers must adapt to the new technology as it appears on the market. Many devices use USB-A, USB-B, or USB-Mini B, but pretty soon, all those connectors will be defunct. With the advent of USB-C, many big-name tech companies are making the switch so their products will only be compatible with USB Type-C.

So, what is USB Type-C, and why is it better than previous versions? Well, that’s exactly what we’re here to discuss! The USB Implementer’s Forum (USB-IF) developed USB Type-C. Hundreds of companies are involved in the USB-IF, including some technology industry leaders such as Apple, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung, and Belkin. 

We know it can be hard to keep up with rapidly changing and evolving technology, so we created this detailed buyer’s guide. We’ll discuss all the main points you need to know about USB Type-C and discuss what sets it apart from previous versions. Let’s get started!

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What is USB Type-C?

Let’s start by defining what USB Type-C is and its primary uses. This product is an industry-standard connector that transfers power and data on a single cable. USB Type-C has become ubiquitous in the last few years and is found on everything from simple hard drives to high-end laptops and the latest smartphones. 

USB Type-C is designed to be a replacement for all previous USB types. However, that transition won’t happen overnight, and it’s possible that a new USB type will emerge some years from now and take over as the next industry standard.
Until that time, you can expect most devices to use USB Type-C. In fact, USB Type-C has become so widely accepted that the European Union has implemented a rule that all battery-charged devices must use USB Type-C By 2024.

Usb type-c cables

How Is USB Type-C Different From Previous USB Versions?

There are several things that set USB Type-C apart from previous USB versions. The most obvious difference is its appearance. Previous USB types had a specific up and down orientation, meaning that you couldn’t flip it and put it into your device any which way.

USB Type-C is flippable, so you don’t have to go through the struggle late at night of guessing which way is up to plug your phone in. It’s also more of an oval shape, whereas previous USB versions feature a rectangular or trapezoidal shape. 

The other main difference between USB-C and previous incarnations is its power capabilities. One of the earliest versions, USB-A, could only support up to 2.5 watts and 5 volts. USB-C surpasses this with a wide berth as it supports up to 100 watts and 20 volts. 

This means USB-C is far more powerful and allows you to charge devices more quickly. You can also charge one device off another with USB-C cables, though you need to ensure the device you’re charging can handle this. There have been reports of USB-C cables frying older devices

There’s also a significant difference in transfer speeds between USB-C and previous versions. USB-A, for example, could only attain speeds up to 20Gbps if it utilizes the latest 3.2 technology. USB-C has transfer speeds up to 40Gbps with the latest 4.0 technology.

So, what does this mean in practice? Essentially, USB-C is far more powerful than previous USB versions. You’ll be able to charge your devices and transfer data much more rapidly with USB Type-C.

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Do You Need To Buy Tech With USB Type-C?

Whether or not a product has USB Type-C is increasingly becoming a significant consideration for technology users. With the trend in the technology world to shift all devices to be compatible with USB Type-C, it makes sense to begin buying products that are already compatible with this. 

However, if you already have a laptop or other electronic device that doesn’t have USB Type-C, you don’t need to discard and replace it immediately. Some options will still allow you to use a USB-C cable with these devices.

Your best option is to find an adapter you can plug into your device and then plug in a USB-C cable. There are plenty of these adapters available, and they exist for every previous version of USB. 

However, we should note that it would be unwise to go out and buy new technology today that doesn’t have USB-C. This USB version has already become relatively commonplace, and it’s already become the main supported version of USB. If you need to buy a new laptop, cell phone, or other handheld electronic, then it would be in your best interest to ensure it’s USB-C compliant. 

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How Do I Know If My New Device Has USB-C?

When you’re shopping for a new electronic, you’ll need to know what to look for to ensure it has USB-C. We’re going to go over some easy ways to tell whether your new device has USB-C. 

The easiest method is to look at the specs listed on the box or on the product page if you’re buying online. This should give you all the relevant information about your new device, including whether it has USB-C or a previous version.

Another method is to see which charger comes with your device. All electronics tend to come with a charger upon purchase. If the charger that came with your new phone or laptop is rounded, has an oval shape, and can fit into your charging port regardless of which way you flip it, then it uses USB-C.

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Devices charging with an adapter

Stay Up-To-Date With Technology With USB-C

Keeping up with technology in a rapidly evolving and the ever-changing world can be a real challenge. Many industry leaders have suggested that USB-C is essentially future-proof and will remain the industry standard for electronics for many years to come. We’ll see if that turns out to be true, but for the present, it is essential to ensure all your devices are compatible with USB-C.

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