What Exactly Is USB-C?

Image: iStock

If you're an owner of a new Apple MacBook, HP Spectre or Samsung Galaxy Note 7 you'd be familiar with the slim, high-speed, high-power USB Type-C connector. It's set to become the new standard, with its reversibility (that's right, there's no wrong way up with the USB-C) just one of the advantages. It can power laptops, transfer data and solve world hunger (okay, maybe not that last one).

Now Intel have hailed it as the ideal — and superior — alternative to the headphone jack.

There are some improvements for the USB-C standard coming later in the year which could make it ideal for widespread smartphone use — making digital audio a viable replacement for routing bulky analog circuity, allowing them to be slimmer. This is what Brad Saunders and Rahman Ismail told the crowds at the Intel Developer Forum.

Sanders and Ismail said the coming improvements would allow for audio to be a real focus. Features like automatically turning the microphone off when it's not in use, and connecting a phone to a display for transferring apps or movies.

We're a bit of a fan of the USB-C here at Gizmodo, with Sandisk's Ultra UBC Type-C scoring a glowing review, but they aren't without their problems — if you don't know how to use them properly, and acheap cable can straight up kill your laptop. (Type-C to Type-C only, kids).

Certification is coming, via the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) in the form of a Certified USB Charger Compliance and Logo Program. Safety isn't the only concern of the program, though, with one of the main aims being to reduce the number of chargers you need, ultimately minimising e-waste.


Comments

    usb-c : you're friendly neighbourhood inside-out lightning cable :P

    FYI the Moto Z launched a few months ago with no headphone jack. Uses a USB-C adapter for traditional headphones.

      The HTC Pharos (a windows mobile 6.0 device from 2008) also had this feature, you had to carry around this microUSB to 3.5 adaptor everywhere if you wanted audio, i know someone who had it and they considered it a rather annoying feature.

      Now this makes kind-of sense. What makes no sense is why Apple, who appears to be moving to USB-C, at least on computers, would potentially kill the headphone jack on a new iPhone to use a Thunderbolt/Lightning to 3.5mm adapter when they could just go straight to USB-C?

        I've still never used a plug nicer than lightning. I've only had a lightning phone since early this year. Is it annoying you have to buy jacked up apple approved cables? Sure. But goddamn if it isn't nicer to plug in my iPhone with a more stable jack than any USB-C I've used yet.

          Agreed. The lightening connector is by far the best plug I've used.

    So you didn't answer your own articles opening question!
    USB-C is a standardised reversible connector, which is quite literally meant to be the "jack of all trades"
    It is designed to take high bandwidth comms and power. 4k Hdmi, USB 3.1 (and legacy), thunderbolt 3, digital audio and video, and 100watt power.

    Meanwhile Apple have their lightning slow connector!

    Ok so two things

    I have a nice fast car charger unit can I plug my USBC cable.for my note 7 into.and charge it without blowing stuff up

    Secondly the who running a headphone from rhe charge socket was done years ago on some of the early windows ce phone... it was a right PITA l. OK so wireless charging might make it a bit easier but sometimes say on a long haul.or even short haul.flight or in airport lounges I want to charge my phone and use a headset as well.. I.love my bose in ear noise cancelling stupidly expensive but worth everypenny headphones and don't want to.give them up,

    I really hope someone make a phone with multiple type C ports.
    You could charge and output a screen at the same time, or listen to something with a friend at the same time in higher quality, the possibilities are interesting.

      USB-C can be daisy chained. So you'd use a hub or Y splitter for this sort of thing. The reason you won't see double USB-C ports in a phone any time soon is because people will inevitably plug power into both expecting it to charge faster, potentially damaging the battery.
      A future revision to the USB standard might resolve this, but I suspect it'd require additional hardware components to manage the power distribution at the moment though.

      Last edited 19/08/16 8:23 am

    Ok, no problems with USB-C. Make more cables.

    The usb compliance programme isn't coming. It's here. It had been around as long as usb has. But China don't care they just copy and slap the label on everything.

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