At last, the new USB Type-C connector is ready for mass production. It will come with reversible ends, featuring the same small connector on either end. But it means so much more for new smartphones, tablets and even laptops.
The new Type-C will mean faster charging, quicker data transfer rates and thanks to the smaller connectors, smaller phones can be made too. The Type-C plug is compatible with the USB 3.1 standard meaning super fast data transfer rates.
Now that Apple has included the Type-C port on its new MacBook, you can expect to start seeing it everywhere soon.
Faster charging, smaller gadgets
The big sell for most users is going to be faster charging. Type-C can deliver power at up to 100 watts at 20 volts. This means that larger devices can now be charged from USB, including laptops and monitors. Say goodbye to the clunky AC adapters we've been lugging around until now.
In real world use this will mean much faster charging of compatible mobiles, tablets and now even laptops. This can be done while transferring data at the same time, something previous standards could not always manage.
This should also mean the need for a separate power port (with large innards) will be gone, allowing manufacturers to make even smaller laptops, for example.
The only downside to a new USB is the need for all new gadgets to fit it. While these gadgets can be smaller, thanks to smaller USB ports, it will mean older kit becomes outdated.
USB will be offering an adapter of course, but if Apple's Lightning connector change is anything to go by, these won't be used for long. And like the Lightning connector, Type-C should work either way up with an 8.4mm by 2.6mm connector end.
There will be plenty of adapters, making Type-C backwards compatible so anyone can adopt it immediately.
Type-C will have a similar-sized end to the smaller end of current USB 2.0 cables, except it will be like that at both ends. This is an 18-pin connector which, it’s claimed, will last the same 10,000 cycles as Micro-USB does.
Better data bandwidth
Type-C is compatible with 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.
The Type-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.
When can we expect to see USB Type-C?
It's already starting to appear. The new 12-inch Apple MacBook, for instance, is void of all but two sockets: the new USB Type-C and the 3.5mm headphones jack. Those worried that the move means that nothing will be able to be plugged in shouldn't be, as there are USB Type-C adapters to help you get the most of your old wired gear, such as a basic USB to USB Type-C adapter for £15 / $19.
Google also recently unveiled a new Chromebook Pixel that uniquely features USB Type-C. But it doesn't just have one Type-C port; it has one on each side, thus making the machine more convenient than the new MacBook. We'll update this story as more popular manufacturers begin to adopt the USB Type-C standard and add it to their flagship devices.