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What is USB C?

Since USB-C has almost become the universal standard in terms of connection ports, here is everything you need to know about USB-C.

USB-C ports and connectors are pretty commonplace nowadays, and most people with an Android phone will know it as their usual charger.

It’s been picked up by multiple companies and has been improved upon since its debut; keep reading to find out everything you need to know about USB-C and where it’s at today.

What is USB-C?

USB-C is an industry-standard connector that can both charge a device and transmit data, making it more convenient than Apple’s Lightning adaptor.

It was initially developed by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) and currently is used by over 700 companies around the world, including Apple, Dell, HP, Microsoft, Samsung and Intel.

Since it is so popular, it has also been accepted by PC manufacturers as it is capable of transferring data at high speeds.

A lot of Android phones use USB-C for charging, with Apple being the main outlier, however, the company did finally introduce the USB-C for the new iPad 9 and iPad Mini 6.

iPad Pro USB C
The iPad Pro packs a useful USB-C port

How fast is USB-C?

The USB-C can charge up a device and transmit data, and it does both actions pretty fast. It can transfer data across devices at 10 gigabits per second (Gbps). This translates to transferring a high definition feature-length film over to another device in just 30 seconds when working at peak performance.

This is 20 times faster than a USB-B 2.0, and since so many companies now feature USB-C support, you can transfer media and data over from laptops, computers and phones.

Looking at the charging front, a USB-C can go up to 100 watts, meaning it can power pretty much any device pretty easily. For comparison, Apple’s Lightning charger caps out at just 5W, which is why the Apple Mac and phone chargers are not interchangeable; the phone chargers just aren’t powerful enough.

So while it is convenient to use the same charger between your tablet, laptop and phone, it’s also the more powerful option, which should result in less time waiting around waiting for your phone to hit the full battery.

USB and Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt 3, soon to be Thunderbolt 4, is Intel’s own superset solution, which can connect to any device with a USB-C port.

USB and Thunderbolt are not the same things, despite their similar shape. Essentially, a Thunderbolt is the connectivity standard, while the USB-C is just the shape of the port that’s used to connect to devices, since it’s so widely used.

Thunderbolt adds support up to 40Gbps, making data transfer even faster, with reduced power consumption than a normal USB-C connector. Thunderbolt can also move as much as 100W of power over an interface, which further adds to its impressive speed.

You could use Thunderbolt to transfer pieces of large media or data, such as a video at 60Hz in 4K, over onto a computer or PC without much hassle.

It can be seen as a supercharged USB-C connector, but it is its own device made by Intel, it just uses the USB-C connector due to its popularity and ability to work over various companies and platforms.

iphone 13 and the box contents

Why do iPhones not use USB-C?

There are many reasons that Apple doesn’t use USB-C on its current iPhones, some of which have been the claim that it will stifle their innovation, and that it would create a lot of electrical waste, in the form of Lightning adaptors.

However, one of the more important factors is likely the revenue that Apple will earn on its Lightning adaptor, since it is the main creator and user of this connector, consumers don’t have many places they can go to replace a broken iPhone charger.

USB-C meanwhile, is so widely used and known that there are multiple places and companies that provide them, making it a much more saturated market that likely wouldn’t make Apple that much money.

The EU has also twice voted on the matter of creating a truly universal standard connector – which would very likely be a USB-C – however, there hasn’t really been any movement on the matter.

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