USB C has become one of the most widely used cable standards in the world in recent years. It improves on everything to USB A , being smaller while being able to support more speed and charging power. However, the cable promised to unite all USB connectors in one, leaving aside the full-size, Micro USB, Mini USB, and all derivatives. However, although the connector is the same, not all cables have the same purpose.
Salman analyzes in his blog different curiosities about current technology, and now he has not only shed light on the number of USB cables that there are, but also proposes a solution so that buyers can identify them more easily when buying them without having to go looking at the specifications.
8 different cables, and without being able to differentiate them by eye
The USB-IF , as an institution to standardize USB connectors and interfaces, has done a nefarious job of naming the standards, making it even more difficult to identify which cable will work correctly with our devices or chargers.
Thus, although the connector has been unified, and there are many technical improvements such as Power Delivery , the cables are all practically different. And that from the outside they are identical.
There are currently eight types of USB C cables defined based on two criteria: the type of standard used to transmit the signals, and the amount of current they can carry. Of the first we have four types: USB 2.0, USB 3.2 Gen 1, USB 3.2 Gen 2, and Thunderbolt 3 . From the second we have two variables for each cable, with 3 and 5 A each.
Colors, the best solution?
Therefore, Salman proposes that each cable have a different color on the tip depending on the standard used, and one or two black stripes depending on the amperage. The colors, identifiable even by people with color blindness, would be as follows.
As if that were not enough, in the coming months USB C 2.1 will arrive, a new connectivity standard that will introduce new cables capable of supporting charging powers of up to 240 W, compared to the 100 W that current ones support via PD . The increase in power will allow for example to charge gaming laptops with a more compact and comfortable charger to carry. It can also be used for high-performance monitors, or even full desktop computers like the iMac.
We will also find new Thunderbolt 4 cables, so we could go to 10 and even 12 different defined standards if we have cables of two types of 3 and 5 amps again. With USB 4, in principle, you can use the same cables as with Thunderbolt 3, being basically the same standard, but with a different name.
USB C cables have smart protections
The advantage of USB C in all these cases is that the cables are “smart”, and they will always adapt to the capacities allowed by the most limiting factor, be it the cable or the device. If we use a Thunderbolt cable for the mobile, it will probably be able to support the load capacity without problem. However, if we try to charge a MacBook with a USB C of the Chinese, it is likely that it will not even start charging.
Despite that added security, it is important that USB cables are simplified and more easily identifiable.