There’s a new standard for the cables, and over the long term USB Type-C is going to make life easier for everyone. It’s probably going to be a bit of a hassle in the short term, however.
The new format comes with significant advantages. For starters, it will be able to handle up to 20V at 100W, compared to USB 3.0 cables that can pass 5V, and the 2.5V that USB 2.0 can provide. This will result in faster charging for tablets, and will be a boon for devices that require more power than USB can currently handle. Even laptops will be able to get their power via USB connections, ending the need for dedicated chargers.
In addition, USB 3.1 Type-C will be able to transfer data at up to 10 Gbps, while USB 3.0 offers half that, and the venerable USB 2.0 is just 480 Mbps.
A Better Plug Design
In a change many will no doubt welcome, the plug will be reversible, so there will be no top or bottom, and no way to insert it incorrectly.
The plug will be 8.4mm by 2.6mm, even smaller than micro-USB, and the same plug will be used on both ends of the cable, so it won’t matter which end of the cable is used. It’s this change that’s probably the most radical in USB Type-C, but will bring a huge advantage: It will bring the potential for a full USB port to every tablet.
The disadvantage is that using a USB Type-C cable with any device that lacks the proper port will require an adapter, and people will need to use one until the transition to the new format is complete.
The upgrade to USB Type-C is just getting started, but over the next couple of years it is expected to become a staple of every Windows and Android device. Apple will surely hold onto its own Lightning connector, but as USB Type-A plugs disappear from laptops and PCs, the iPad maker will need to adopt Type-C in some fashion.