02
Apr
usb-port-type-c

USB cables - can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. The USB has been both a beloved and bemoaned part of the tech world since the first big wave of USB1.1 consumer devices hit the market in the late 1990's, and we've all been universally serially bussing along ever since. You had USB type B, miniUSB, USB 2.0, microUSB, and more recently, USB 3.0. And now some phone manufacturers (COUGH SAMSUNG COUGH) are even using the semi-ridiculous USB3.0 Micro-B, which while it is backwards-compatible with the original microUSB, just seems like a really weird and unnecessary evolution of the standard.

Of course, we've all known that just as a matter of inevitably, sweet USB nirvana had to be coming at some point - a reversible, universal USB cable. Wouldn't matter which end was plugged into what, or how you flipped it around - it would just work. Foxconn, ever eager to manufacturer the latest and greatest consumer tech advancements, has released renderings of what I can only call the freaking USB Holy Grail - meet USB3.1 Type-C (catchy!).

YES

USB3.1 Type-C will finally break compatibility with the standard USB port design in favor of a much smaller connection interface, and will do away with the microUSB (and, presumably, miniUSB) standard completely.

The cable will boast a bandwidth of up to 10Gbps, though most of the other specifications are still up in the air. The design of the cable, while subject to change, is probably pretty close to what we'll see in consumer devices - hopefully in the next couple of years. All I know is this thing cannot come soon enough.

via The Verge

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Matt Shindala

    Oh man that thing looks like it could bend/break easily. More money for Foxxconn I guess.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I'm gonna go ahead and say COMPLETELY 100% WORTH IT.

    • Steve Freeman

      Huh? They don't look any different than other micro USB cables I've used over the years, I don't know why it would be any more fragile than previous versions.

    • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

      WUT?

    • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

      WUT?

    • Ian Santopietro

      It looks to be slightly larger than current MicroUSB cables, so that should actually make it stronger.

  • Kashmieer

    Paint.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      My artistry knows no bounds.

  • Js__

    Thank you apple, can't wait for these to be everywhere.

    • ProductFRED

      Because Apple totally invented reversible USB cables, and the problem only began when Apple released Lightning /s. The reason it took until now was because several manufacturers have to agree on a design. That, and USB is an industry standard whereas Lightning proprietary, so it takes longer to create, test, and agree on a new revision.

    • Eric

      Reversible USB was actually patented in ~2005..

    • bozs13

      Apple???

      Does the lightning cable work on hard drives/peripherals and phones as well or just one of them? Does the thunderbolt work universally on all those devices? Nope?

      So I'd say USB is the first to get to the universal cable. (maybe you're talking bout the reversible issue)

      • Robbie Ward

        Not to butt in but Thunderbolt is not an Apple technology. It's not exclusive to Apple devices (my Z87 Expert motherboard has it integrated, for example) Thunderbolt is an Intel creation

    • bozs13

      Apple???

      Does the lightning cable work on hard drives/peripherals and phones as well or just one of them? Does the thunderbolt work universally on all those devices? Nope?

      So I'd say USB is the first to get to the universal cable. (maybe you're talking bout the reversible issue)

  • William

    ...

  • William

    ...

    • Jay T

      Please can I have it now???

      • Akshay Mehta

        No.

  • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

    How long before Apple claims this was copied off the Lightning connector?

    • Kieron Quinn

      Thing is, at least in Europe, Apple will have to conform to this as it was allowed through:
      http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-03/14/common-charger-vote

      That means they'll either have to have two cables - one for data and one for charging (ha!) or switch to MicroUSB, or more likely this as it will replace it in the vote

      • mgamerz

        They'll just provide an adapter.

      • mgamerz

        They'll just provide an adapter.

        • Kieron Quinn

          I think it has to the the whole thing, plug to wall plug

        • David Thoren

          They were offered that option. They did not comply. That's why the new regs were created.

          • Justin W

            They were forced to "make one available", which they did. This will only require the adapter be included.

        • someone755

          They'll make you buy an adapter*

      • Matthew Fry

        "If all goes well, the universal charger will be stipulated by local law in 2016."

        That's plenty of time for them to create proprietary 3.1 cables with chips in them.

    • didibus

      I think it's safe to say that it was, for once, actually copied from it though. And the world will be a better place for it.

  • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

    How long before Apple claims this was copied off the Lightning connector?

  • mesmorino

    I've got a Toshiba external hdd from 2012 that uses USB 3.0 Micro B. If anything, the phone industry (in the form of Samsung) is following the computer industry, just like it always has (with regards to cabling anyway).

    The entire point of Micro USB to USB A cables is to allow you to plug your phone into a computer, the computer side is where it's got to start. Especially since a LOT of things get plugged into a computer, from cameras to printers to external hdds, to all sorts of peripherals

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I think I get what you're saying, but really, the point of this standard is to kill the old standard, rather than augment it (as has been the modus operandi of the USB standard from its inception). Samsung, and every other big user of USB, knows full well this standard is coming, so it seems silly to adopt a stopgap that will likely see very little widespread usage when there's already a pretty adequate legacy solution out there.

      Not saying there is zero technical reason to use USB3 Micro-B, but that it just doesn't make much sense when this is on the horizon.

      • mesmorino

        On the other hand, the spec for usb C is planned for completion around june, and this is not counting delays, amendments, revisions, and so on. And then it'll come into use gradually over the next couple of years- During this waiting/transitional period, wouldn't you rather have the latest incarnation of the standard, even if it was about to be superseded? If they were both going out I'd rather have the usb 3.0 micro B connections over micro usb

        It does make sense- the new standard isn't here yet, so... Until it gets here do we use the latest we have or stick with the adequate solution? Especially if using the latest doesn't cost you extra, and can provide a real benefit?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          I'd also pose this question: which will have greater legacy usage - USB2 microUSB-A, or USB3 microUSB-B? With the C cable coming, most OEMs of USB accessories and devices will probably avoid type B because, knowing it will not see extremely wide adoption, won't want to spend the time or money on it.

          There's a cost for everything - adopting a revised port standard, even a minor revision, very clearly costs money. You'll note that HTC, LG, Sony, and literally every phone OEM but Samsung have stuck with the old connector to date, and I don't imagine that'll change, perhaps apart from a few high-power devices.

          There's such a huge micro USB A ecosystem out there already that most of these companies probably see little reason to jump between cable standards twice in the course of a few years, even if B is backwards-compatible.

          • mesmorino

            Oh I agree- I'm just saying that you can argue it their (Samsung's) way too. As far as I know the Note 3 is first and only phone with the usb3 micro usb-b connection, and they make those every year- Before the usb c standard becomes widely adopted they may well get two other Note devices out using the usb3 micro usb-b and this is not counting all the galaxy note, galaxy pro, galaxy tab devices they could stick it into as well in the meantime.

            And then once it's mainstream they'll switch wholesale. The other OEMs are waiting and that's probably what Samsung should have done too, except I guess they felt the Note 3 needed it. I got one last week and it does charge much faster than my old S3, despite having a bigger battery. Plus, Samsung makes external hdds, and they (along with other OEMs) have been using the micro-usb-b connection for a long while now. It might have just been a logical progression there, and even if -or when they do switch, the computer industry may not necessarily follow suit and they're the ones who really need to

          • http://planetmew.com/blog/ Christopher Glass

            It's the same thing as WiMax. It was a stopgap quickly put up between 3G and LTE. Nothing serious got done with it.

  • Vardan Nazaretyan

    Shut up and take my money!

  • briankariu

    I hope it addresses some of the other issues that micro-usb had...like ports wearing out quickly and usb cables not being strong enough

  • Phil

    This looks like a different solution to the lightning connector
    While the lightning connector is male on the cable, and female on the device, this seems to be the other way round, where the cable end has a cavity, and the device end has the corresponding pin recessed within the socket.
    This is arguably the better solution as the contacts on the cable arent exposed

  • Stanley Chan

    No backwards-compatible? Forget it! People will not buy new devices for a stupid tiny conector and fake bandwidth numbers.

    People just want a conection on the go in their old and new devices. They dont want to carry a bunch of cables. Deal with it.

    • Marcell Lévai

      I will.

    • Marcell Lévai

      I will.

    • Gabernasher

      You act as if they'll have a choice. This is the new standard, as in it will be on everything.

  • AmbientCloud

    Yeah, let's introduce ANOTHER cable connector in the name of interoperatbility. What a joke. Freedom is slavery, war is peace....

    • Ian Santopietro

      This is supposed to be a new standard cable, so that we don't have interoperability issues going forward. Standards do need to evolve, and just as we've gone from MiniUSB to MicroUSB, this will make everything better too.

    • Gabernasher
      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        PARALLEL OR DEATH

    • Layman76

      What do you mean? Just as we evolved from Mini USB to Micro USB, it's time to move on to something better, which is already going to become a standard in the Computer world in the future. It only makes sense.

  • AmbientCloud

    Yeah, let's introduce ANOTHER cable connector in the name of interoperatbility. What a joke. Freedom is slavery, war is peace....

  • aouniat

    What about power? I believe Samsung took that new USB approach with the Note 3 bcoz normal USB plugs won't provide enough power to charge the Note 3 as quick as possible.

    I may be mistaken about what I've said, but I'm sure there's something to do with the limitation of USB power in general. Hope USB3.1 -though seems smaller- can solve the issue of power limitation. Here's more on this subject: http://techpinions.com/why-apple-couldnt-go-to-micro-usb-charging/10212

    • Ian Santopietro

      That horrible cable is actually the *standard* small USB 3 cable. This should solve that by packing all of the pins form the larger connector into one that makes more sense.

  • NemaCystX

    Apple is probably the only one that thought ahead in this regard. I like how the Lightning Cable is reversible and at the same time very easy to insert without worrying about hitting pins or something. Unfortunately for us, they have a patent on that method.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I personally find it rather annoying that Apple couldn't just bring Thunderbolt to iOS devices, because honestly, at least then they'd be on a standard that's somewhat open. I imagine there were both technical and business reasons at play there, though.

      EDIT: looks like that's because Intel holds sole licensing authority, and bringing it to ARM devices would be a big no-no: http://www.anandtech.com/show/5425/why-thunderbolt-wont-come-to-the-iphone-anytime-soon

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I personally find it rather annoying that Apple couldn't just bring Thunderbolt to iOS devices, because honestly, at least then they'd be on a standard that's somewhat open. I imagine there were both technical and business reasons at play there, though.

      EDIT: looks like that's because Intel holds sole licensing authority, and bringing it to ARM devices would be a big no-no: http://www.anandtech.com/show/5425/why-thunderbolt-wont-come-to-the-iphone-anytime-soon

    • mesmorino

      Fortunately for us, they don't have a monopoly on ideas, no matter how much they like to think so.

      I'm no patent officer, but I'm pretty sure the idea of having contacts rather than pins for plugs and sockets is not only pre-existing but also obvious and thus unpatentable. Same goes for reversible cables- The very first person who ever plugged a usb cable in the wrong way probably though "I wish this worked both ways"

    • mikegonzalez2k

      The Lighting cable is reversible, but only on one side. The other side is still a standard USB 3.0 port. Thus the cable is not bi-directional. Furthermore The Lightning cable is a male port, the pins are exposed which causes more wearing over time. By contrast USB 3.1 Type C is a female port and thus protects the cable from damage and will last longer.

  • http://batman-news.com uh8m8

    FWIW Samsung's implementation of USB 3.0 not only makes data transfer faster, it makes *charging* faster on the Galaxy Note 12.2.

    Otherwise it would have sucked, literally and figuratively, draining while plugged in as long as the screen was on.

    • mesmorino

      Oh it's on the Note 12.2 as well? That's good to know, I thought it was just the Note 3 that had it.

    • HarrisMirza

      It isn't a special implementation of USB 3.0, it is just that they have a faster memory controller, and a higher amperage battery, they didn't do this on smaller devices, because it would generate too much heat. Now that the components are more efficient, this should roll out to other devices.

      • http://batman-news.com uh8m8

        My personal impression is that USB 3.0 is special on its own ;)
        But seriously, I had a Note 10.1 2014, and I had to return it because it didn't charge when the screen was on. I went to get a replacement, and I saw the display model doing the same thing, so I said "nope".

        Does USB 3.0 charge better/faster than 2.0? I find it difficult to believe this isn't a factor, with more pluggey-thingies in it.

  • nofearofimaginarymen

    Cables? No thanks. I use this operating system called Android that allows me to never use wires (also thanks to wireless charging).

    • Android Developer

      but it's always more efficient and faster to use cables than wireless connectivity/charging...

      • nofearofimaginarymen

        True, but how often do we need to transfer bulk amounts of info on and off of our devices? I certainly do not, maybe others do. As far as charging, I just set it on the charging pad before I go to sleep so even though it is faster/more efficient at charging, it is not a problem for me.

        • mesmorino

          I regularly need to transfer bulk data off and on my phone... and until recently my phone couldn't even make it through 8hrs on a single charge- Off Charger at 8am, dead by 5pm- Wireless charging would never have worked for me

        • Android Developer

          What will you say when batteries finally be able to charge in super short time, as shown here:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwiTIzkF4cw
          Would you still prefer using wireless charging?

          • nofearofimaginarymen

            Pretty cool stuff. It would be nice to have but all I do now is literally set my phone down. In times where I don't have access to my wireless charging, then hell yes I would want this.

  • Chris Stubbs

    I look forward to Apple unveiling their 'lightening 3.0' cable.

    • mgamerz

      Parallel ports

      Just no

  • Android Developer

    Why didn't they make it like this for the very first USB ?
    Also, when will USB replace all kinds of cables (even those for computers, heaters, fans, microwaves, and all others) ?

    • blahmoomoo

      Computers were huge and there were no such things as smartphones back when USB was first made, so there was no need to make it super small. Not to mention it was already a lot smaller than other similar connectors, such as parallel. There may also be a manufacturing reason for it that has been overcome since then.

      Also, USB cannot replace the power cables used for high power devices. The wires inside are too small for that; they'd quickly heat up and burn out.

      • Android Developer

        so the dream for one connector for all is in vains?
        It's just that a lot of countries also have their own connectors (of electricity) and I was hoping that will be gone too.

        • blahmoomoo

          Part of the reason why there are different power outlet connectors in different countries is because there is no universal standard. The other, more important reason is because countries use different voltages and AC frequencies. A device designed for 120v 60Hz in the US shouldn't be accidentally plugged in to a 240v 50Hz line in a foreign country, unless it can support it. However, having different standards between countries with the same voltage/Hz standard is kind of silly, if that is a real problem.

          Having different connectors to the device itself could be kind of annoying, but most devices come with their own power connectors anyway. At least there is one standard for PCs that seems to be widely accepted on them and similar devices.

          • Android Developer

            but how come USB doesn't care about the outlet voltage ?
            there are even outlets out there that have a USB outlet...

          • blahmoomoo

            USB has a standard: 5v DC, 5A max (usually doesn't go that high). No matter what country you're from, that's what it is.

            That's insufficient for high power devices, of course.

          • Android Developer

            What about USB3 ? did it change on USB3?

          • blahmoomoo

            Nope, and I highly doubt that'll change any time soon. Doing so would break backwards compatibility.

            And while USB 3.1 could change it, I'm sure they won't so you can get compatibility cables with the new plug on one end and a pre-3.1 plug on the other.

          • Android Developer

            I'm not an expert in hardware at all, but I heard that the Note 3 has the ability to recharge faster using USB3.
            How come?

          • blahmoomoo

            Actually, now that I look at it, it seems USB 3.0 actually has a max current of 0.9A, rather than 5A (still 5V though). However, it seems that the Note 3 got around this by adding extra power pins to the connector so you can provide more power.

            I wonder if USB 3.1 will have the same issue or not. Hopefully not, considering it'd be best to have a single standard going forward rather than the many we already have.

          • Android Developer

            so you say it's like a hardware hack of Samsung?

          • blahmoomoo

            I suppose you could say that, but at least it appears to be backwards compatible with micro USB.

    • Mike Harris

      Are you really asking why they didn't perfect the format on the first attempt? Are you new to technology?

      Nothing happens in a bubble.

      • Android Developer

        no, i meant why didn't they make its two sides identical and also able to connect upside down.
        of course i'm not talking about the speed and performance. only the interface itself.

        • Mike Harris

          I understand what you're saying, but those are all ideas and technologies that evolve over time. Like I said, nothing happens in a bubble.

          • Android Developer

            well took them quite a long time to understand it's an annoying interface ...

          • blahmoomoo

            Backwards compatibility was apparently a bigger concern for a while. Despite the creation of standards like micro and mini USB, at least the end that connects to the computer remained the same, or compatible in USB 3.0 Superspeed's case (it has several extra pins within the same connector).

            Also, reversible connectors like what Apple made likely did not exist at all when USB was first released. Dynamically changing hardware connections wasn't really a thing back then (see: crossover ethernet cables, and how auto-sensing ethernet devices make them obsolete on modern hardware).

          • Android Developer

            why was the mini USB invented and then the micro USB, which is almost the same size?

          • blahmoomoo

            Micro is half the thickness, so it's a significant difference when it comes to compact devices.

      • LE Sacks

        "Nothing happens in a bubble"

        well, indeed. USB was originally a means of tidying up RS232 for mice, keyboards etc., round the back of a PC. Then came Flash & USB 'floppies', higher data rate peripherals (eg external disks) and the USB ports moved round the front of the PC / side of Laptops. Then mobile, but only once the battery/circuitry could do a half decent job on charging times, which are still pretty poor for a lot of kit due to low Amps.

        So, really, it's only now that people are plugging / unplugging USB several times a day and requiring more Amps... hence USB 3. Seems reasonable.

      • LE Sacks

        "Nothing happens in a bubble"

        well, indeed. USB was originally a means of tidying up RS232 for mice, keyboards etc., round the back of a PC. Then came Flash & USB 'floppies', higher data rate peripherals (eg external disks) and the USB ports moved round the front of the PC / side of Laptops. Then mobile, but only once the battery/circuitry could do a half decent job on charging times, which are still pretty poor for a lot of kit due to low Amps.

        So, really, it's only now that people are plugging / unplugging USB several times a day and requiring more Amps... hence USB 3. Seems reasonable.

  • didibus

    Can't they just make it 20 Gbs already, save us at least one generation over.

  • Alexei Watson

    If you didn't have a PS/2 keyboard and mouse, then you don't truly know the pain of non-reversible plugs.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/PS2_Ports_ATX.jpg

    • Justin W

      One bent pin is all it takes with one of those.

    • someone755

      The same with VGA?
      DVI is also irreversible, though the pins don't get bent that easily.

      Why don't they make this shits round? Like a headphone plug, round and easy to plug anywhere...

      • Ionut Lala

        Round plugs would have to be fatter. We need thin plugs for thin devices. A round plug would also have to take the full circular rotation into account and the pins would have to be on top of each other like the audio jack which works because it has only a few connections.

        • someone755

          You have a headphone jack. It's not fat.
          If you don't like it, there also exist 2,5mm ones.
          About the pins: I'm no technician, but there are only 4 (5 on microUSB) pins on USB. A standard headphone connector (with mic) has 4. Fitting 1 or 2 more shouldn't really be an issue imo.

    • Melissa Peterson

      I have and still use a keyboard that uses the PS/2 plug.

  • Matthew Fry

    Can't wait to get my USB3.1 Type-C to USB 3.1 Type-A adapter to plug my phone in my computer. I gotta root my phone somehow.

    • someone755

      If you buy a new phone and have an old PC/vice versa, you're gonna hate this
      3.1C thing.

      I guarantee it.

  • David Li

    a rugged micro usb connector has been long overdue

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    So basically this is Apple's Lightning cable on both ends

  • Chuck

    Why can't Apple wise up and just license out Lightning at a reasonable rate? It's a superior design!

    • http://twitter.com/savagejeep SavageJeep

      Apple... license technology... reasonable rate.... HAHAHAHAHA

  • solbin

    For the love of god, please don't be as fragile as micro USB cables are. I swear I need to get a new one every 3-4 months.

  • ragetek

    Is that a Daniel Bryan reference in the title?!