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What is USB-C? Faster charging, quicker data, smaller chargers

USB-C has reversible connectors and means faster charging, quicker data transfer rates and thanks to the smaller connectors, smaller phones can be made too. It can also support lots of different types of data and power over a single connector. 

Pretty much all new phones over £200 have USB-C for charging aside from the iPhone that still uses Apple’s own proprietary Lightning standard. But Apple has changed things up with the new iPad Pro – like the MacBook, new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro it now also has a USB-C port for charging and connectivity. 

USB-C boasts much faster charging and can deliver power at up to 100 watts at 20 volts (if using the USB 3.1 standard). This means that larger devices can now be charged from USB, including laptops and tablets. 

Some proprietary charging technologies such as Qualcomm Quick Charge and Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging are built on top of the USB-C/3.1 standards to provide even faster recharging. 

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Apple’s Lightning standard is similar to USB-C in many ways in that it can also support faster charging and the connector is reversible. The fastest way to charge an iPhone X or 8, for example, is to plug a USB-C to Lightning cable into a USB-C MacBook (or other laptop) charger. 

What about USB-C on laptops? 

The need for a separate power port on a laptop is gone, enabling manufacturers to make even smaller devices.

Apple’s MacBook led the way in the laptop space in 2015 with a single USB-C port for all purposes, but many new models now also have USB-C, meaning that you can use the cable from your laptop to charge your phone, for example. This is especially the case for thin and light laptops and tablets.

Some manufacturers are resisting; while Microsoft Surface devices have USB-C for data, they also have their own non-standard chargers. That will surely change in 2019. 

USB-C also has display support so you can connect up a monitor and other devices to a single USB-C port. What’s more, USB-C plug is compatible with the USB 3.1 standard meaning super fast data transfer rates. 

Charging can be performed while transferring data at the same time, something previous standards could not always manage. 

USB-C boasts up to 10Gbps data transfer rates. That means a full movie can be transferred in a single second, theoretically. With wireless data being used more often but being limited, this new USB standard may cause a resurgence of cable connection use as super high-speed data rates are required for things like gaming on tablets connected to TVs.

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You’ll need some adapters

There are plenty of adapters, making Type-C backwards compatible so anyone can adopt it immediately. And it’s likely you’ll need to buy at least some adapters; even if you have a high-end MacBook Pro with four USB-C ports you will almost certainly have enough ports but there will be some devices you own that you will need a converter for. 

The USB-C connector has been designed so that it can be scaled with future developments in speed, meaning the shape itself shouldn’t need to change again for a long time. 

Certain USB-C laptops are also compatible with Thunderbolt 3 – this uses the same connector as USB-C but adds faster data transfer speeds. Think of it like a USB-C Plus. It enables connection speeds up to 40Gbps and is ideal for high-bandwidth activities like video editing or backing up huge swathes of data. 

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