Is USB Type-C too early?

USB Type-C is one of those much-anticipated concepts that has finally made it to the masses – including (finally) me! I just picked up a Nexus 6P and I find myself needed to make a little bit of an adjustment in my charging habits. One of the most attractive features of the USB Type-C connector is the it is reversible. No more cable acrobatics just to find the right way to give your phone some juice. This is a priceless innovation that has been highly sought after for some time. Those who have used recent Apple devices have gotten a taste of this concept with the lighting connector, which is also reversible.

lightning connector cable vs usb type c (2)Two steps forward

The only problem with moving to the USB Type-C standard is that it is not backward compatible with old micro-USB cables. Micro-USB has been around for quite some time now, so if you’re reading this, you likely have a stockpile of micro-USB cables laying around or tucked in a drawer that will be pretty much useless going forward. Maybe you can use them as shoe laces or something. That being the case, we started to wonder if perhaps the world is ready for USB Type-C.

Right off the bat, we run into the biggest problem in that it’s not quite as “standard” as consumers would like. While many of the devices released this spring have been carrying USB-C charging ports, there are still some significant hold-outs. Specifically, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are both lacking USB Type-C connectors in favor of micro-USB. If this is the HTC 10, or the LG G5, then honestly, this is a footnote in the history of USB Type-C.

Two steps back

But Samsung, and its millions and millions of sold phones are still going to be pushing out micro-USB as opposed to the new USB-C standard. That could be a problem for consumers and manufacturers as this represents a significant slowdown in adoption rates. Samsung phones are incredibly popular, and the fact that they don’t have USB-C means that, at least for one more product cycle, people are still going to be using yesterday’s standard.

Add to that the issues that USB Type-C bring to the table in the area of charging. USB-C cables that don’t meet the standard could potentially start damaging some devices due to lack of compliance. For you and me, this isn’t really an issue, but for Joe Consumer how just wants to grab a new cheap cable on Amazon, this could turn into a big deal, really fast. Unless you do your research, you could end up with a cable that doesn’t meet USB-C standard compliance and you could end up with some Kentucky Fried Circuitry. Heck, I’ve heard so many horror stories that I’m getting nervous about ordering a cable.

Plus, there are the concerns that Google Engineer, Benson Leung brought to light. Leung has come forward on several occasions – condemning OnePlus’s Type-C cables, and pointing out that Qualcomm QuickCharge and Type-C es no bueno together. The reasons for this have to do with resistance, and proprietary technology that I frankly have only a rudimentary understanding of. But that’s exactly the problem – most people don’t really understand a lot of this stuff. They are simply going to buy a cable and plug it in, and if something blows up they’re going to wonder why. I mean c’mon, it’s a cable. It’s no big deal, right?

lightning connector cable vs usb type c (1)And yet…

But there are standards. USB-IF exists for a reason, after all. It’s up to them and engineers like Leung to educate the public about issues like this, and they are doing it. Cables shouldn’t be taken for granted just because they’re likely the least expensive component in the box. So it’s up to you as consumers to read sites like Pocketnow and learn what’s good for you and what’s bad. Otherwise, we’re not doing our jobs as informed consumers. As Pocketnow readers and editors – a.k.a. folks in the know – we should also be educating those around us, so that everyone can be on the same page as quickly as possible.

USB Type-C is the future. This had to happen sometime. It’s probably for the best that it’s here now and not in a few years when maybe some new innovations in charging or data transfer fell even further out of spec. Now that it’s here, we can all start to make the smart transition to the little connector that could. Every product will have a bug or two out of the gate, and it’s only through mass adoption that these bugs get worked out as fast as possible. This is just a hiccup in the road to progress and nothing to get overly concerned about.

We come together

What do you think? Is USB-C not ready for prime time just yet? Did we move too quickly into this new frontier? Or should it have happened sooner before we all got used to Quick Charge and the like? Sound off below in the comments with your opinion, and let’s see if we can figure this out.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!