USB-C is happening. Considered the next micro-USB, the latest port is making its way onto more devices each month. OnePlus were a pioneering manufacturer to adopt USB-C, followed by HP and Apple. Apple saw the latest connection as an ideal connection for their high-end laptops. Today, the Huawei P9, HTC 10 and Samsung Note7 boast USB-C with improved power, connectivity all in one cable.
This should be awesome, but who doesn’t remember the fallout from Nokia changing to the skinny charger or the first time micro-USB emerged onto the market. Finding third-party accessories didn’t prove as straightforward as one would have hoped. The trade off is a huge amount of innovation, as USB-C provide fast charging, faster data transfers and use of external monitors. Most importantly, USB-C is fully reversible. Yes, you cannot plug a USB-C in the wrong way around. Just think about that for a moment.
Until recently, USB-C was moving quite slowly, but it’s widely expected the next range of Samsung flagships will ship with the new connection. Over the next couple of years, you’ll see a wide range of accessories flood the market taking advantage of USB-C abilities.
So what do you need to know to avoid being left behind when the cock crows on our current cables and a new era begins?
USB-C is not a new standard
We have had a number of revisions of the USB at this stage – from the 1.1 to the current popular 3.1. Essentially these upgrades are defined by what the connection can manage in terms of speeds and connectivity. The main improvement seen with USB-C is all about the actual physical connection such as the micro-USB.
The real defining factor of the USB-C however, is this is the first module that is viewed as replacing both ends of the connection point to make a truly reversible cable.
End of an era for the headphone socket
Let us share a secret with you. The rumours of LG and Apple wanting to get shot of the trusty 3.5mm headphone socket are very true. Any idea what they want to replace it with? Okay, so the context of this article is a giveaway. That’s right the magic USB type C. Seriously, you can expect that much from this simple little cable.
You might wonder what the problem is with the 3.5mm standard, and where it falls short of USB-C. In truth, there are several issues.
First and foremost the headphone jack is quite bulky. Companies such as Apple want to get their products below 3.5mm in depth. An array of patents from Apple have popped up in recent months. These patents show the headphone socket is a key component in holding phones back from getting even thinner. Apple won’t use the USB-C in it’s purest form. Instead, they will adopt a lightning connector version of the same product. A deal with Beats Audio begins to make more sense when one considers the 3.5mm is one of the last analogue connection standards in use. It also has one purpose and required side technology to implement noise cancelling effects.
Not only is USB-C a digital connection, ensuring a base level of sound quality, but it can multitask too. So, for example, a pair of USB-C headphones could play high-quality music whilst simultaneously measuring your heart rate and feeding that information back to your phone.
A few drawbacks and concerns
Now this is nitpicking a bit but is something that needs to be noted. USB-C connections would appear to be rather flimsy. Anyone currently using Apple chargers will have an idea of how easy these are to break and fears are that USB-C follows suit. We are probably going to have to wait a year or so to truly see the wear and tear effects. Our pro-tip is to wrap the spring from a pen cartridge around the cable just below the connection point adds a slightly more rigid support structure.
On the topic of pro-tips, steer clear of budget USB-C cables. Dealz will undercut the competition’s cables. The truth is, you’ll pay a fortune in replacing them. Consider your logic for a moment. You are powering a €600 with a €2 cable. There is a reason why the original manufacturer cables cost around €15. You get what you pay for. Many battery faults that are seen in phones, tablets and laptops is the use of cheap third party cables.
Also, if you are picking up USB-C cables on Amazon.co.uk, look for the star ratings which should help you avoid the duds.
USB-C is definitely a major step in the right direction, and we can’t wait for more companies to start adopting it. It will mean slimmer devices with fewer ports, more flexibility, better data transfer speeds, and even better sound.