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What are the advantages of using USB Type-C?

Posted: 26 Jun 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:USB? Type-C? MacBook? ChromeBook? SD card?

Technology giants Google, Samsung and Apple recently announced new devices that feature a new universal serial bus (USB) connector called USB Type-C.

First, Apple introduced their new MacBook, an ultralight notebook aimed at people on the move, with one USB Type-C and a headphone jack as the only physical ports. Google, not wanting to be left behind, introduced the new ChromeBook Pixel two months ago, equipped with two USB Type-C connectors, one on each side of the laptop. But they also included 2x USB 3.0 Type-A and an SD card reader.

Recently OnePlus, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer that last year launched the "One," has announced that their next generation flagship device, the OnePlus Two, will feature the USB-C connector.


The advantage for manufacturers in using the USB Type-C is enormous. It allows them to deliver power, data and display over a single connector, cable and port. About the same size as a micro-USB connector, it is good for over 100W, high-speed data (currently 10Gbit/s using the USB 3.1 specs) and a 4K display.

One nice feature of the USB Type-C is that it's reversible; people no longer need to squint to plug in the cable.

However, this brand new port creates some problems for consumers and peripheral manufacturers. Currently, most devices use either the typical USB Type-Afound on most computersor the Micro-USB featured on tablets and smartphones (except Apple devices). More than three billion USB connectors are shipped every year.

Consumers purchasing the new MacBook or the Samsung Galaxy S6 are faced with the fact that they can't connect their old USB devices and need to purchase an adaptor. Also, the lack of additional connectors makes it difficult, in the case of the MacBook (with only one USB Type-C port), to charge the computer and use an additional device, such as an external display or a pointing device such as a USB tablet, at the same time. Apple argues that most users will be connecting their devices via Bluetooth and there is no need for more ports.

Some regulations also need to be changed. Last year the European Parliament approved the final draft of the new Radio Equipment Directive, destined to replace the old 1999 "R&TTE Directive on Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment." One of the most commented provisions of the new directive, which will not go into full effect until 2017, is the requirement that all mobile phones and tablets in the European Union use a common charger. When the new directive takes effect, all mobile phone manufacturers will need to provide chargers with the Micro USB interface (namely, the Micro USB configured with the CENELEC EN 62684 and ETSI EN 301489-34 standards).

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