An Overview of USB Type-C

An Overview of USB Type-C


USB Type-C is a new, tiny physical connector. The connector is capable to support most of the exciting USB standard like USB 3.1, USB power delivery (USB PD) and USB Type-A.

NOTE: “The standard USB connector you’re most familiar with is known as USB Type-A.”

The USB Type-C connector was developed by the USB Implementers Forum, the group of companies counts over 700 in its membership, including Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Intel, HP, and Samsung that has developed and certified this USB standard. This is important, because it’s more likely to be accepted by the majority of PC manufacturers.

Apple’s latest MacBook features a single USB Type-C port. This USB standard is similar to other new standards, like USB 3.1 for USB Power Delivery and faster speeds for improved power-delivery over USB connections.

USB Type-C and USB 3.1

USB 3.1 is also a new USB standard in the line of USB connectors. Theoretical bandwidth of USB 3.0 is 5 Gbps, while USB 3.1’s is 10 Gbps. USB 3.0 has double bandwidth that makes it as fast as a first-generation Thunderbolt connector.

USB Type-C connector shape does not look like USB 3.1. It has a different connector shape, but the underlying technology could just be same like USB 2.0 or USB 3.0. In fact, USB Type-C connector is embedded in Nokia’s N1 Android tablet, but the underlying technology is completely same like USB 2.0 not even USB 3.0.

USB Type-C Apple MacBook

Backwards Compatibility

The new USB Type-C connector isn’t backwards compatible. It is not possible to plug older USB devices into new, tiny USB Type-C port, nor can a USB Type-C connector be plugged into a larger, older USB port. But it does not mean that you have to replace all your old peripherals with the new ones. USB 3.1 is backwards-compatible with older versions of USB. A physical adapter will be required with a USB Type-C connector on one end and an older-style, larger USB connector on the other end for connecting USB Type-C devices with old peripherals.

In future, many computers will have both USB Type-C and larger USB Type-A ports. Users will be able to slowly transition from their old devices, getting new devices with USB Type-C connectors. Even if anyone gets a computer with only USB Type-C ports, like Apple’s latest MacBook, adapters will fill the gap.

USB Type-C is a worthy upgrade and it’s not an Apple-only technology. It is the first time that Apple is using a new standard that everyone can adopt.

USB Type-C Connector Shape

Type-C Connector Shape

USB Type-C connector size is very small. It is about 70% smaller in size than older USB interface. This single connector will be the universal standard that every peripheral should be able to use. A single cable will be required for charging your smartphone from a USB charger or connecting an external hard drive to your laptop.

By using adapters, USB Type-C ports can support a variety of different protocols that can output VGA, DisplayPort, HDMI, or other types of connections from that single USB port. Apple’s USB-C Digital Multiport Adapter is a strong example that shows capability of USB Type-C. The mess of HDMI, USB, VGA, DisplayPort, and power ports on laptops will be streamlined into a single type of port.


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