USB Type-C: The Ultimate Guide


What is USB-C?

To answer this, we should first know that USB is an acronym for Universal Serial Bus and that USB allows data and power to be transmitted over the same cable. As the latest standard connector in the market, USB-C is widely used in various digital devices thanks to its fully reversible oval shape and symmetrical design. Bi-directional power capabilities allow the power to flow in both directions making USB-C more popular. Also, USB-C has better data and power rates and can even drive high-resolution monitors, which is a boon for all digital devices needing pristine sound and image production. not limited to charging.
Are USB-C and Type-C the same?
Yes, USB-C is technically called USB Type-C and was developed by the USB Implementer Forum (USB-IF).

What does the C stand for in USB-C?

USB has developed over time into a half-dozen variation types from USB-A, through USB-B and onto USB-C. The C simply stands for the 3rd generation of USB interfaces. USB Type-C is the first to have a physical configuration allowing it to be inserted either way - up or down - removing many of the inconveniences associated with previous USB ports.

Learn more about the USB history and revolution from HERE.

Difference between USB-A, USB-B, Mini-USB, Micro-USB and USB-C

Even though the original standard of USB was released in 1996 and the initial iterations greatly improved earlier connection technologies. However, as technology has evolved and its demand for data speeds and power delivery have increased the form and function of USB connectors has needed to keep pace. USB Type-C now has up to 24 contacts with data speeds up to 40Gbps and power rating of up to 240W.

USB Types


The USB Type-A connector, the first generation of USB connectors with a flat rectangular shape to distinguish them visually, has been updated with a slimmer and more space-saving USB-C design. This remarkable ease of use update can be attributed to the USB-C connector's symmetrical pin positioning reversibility, whereas the USB-A port is not.

Why is the USB-B not popular?

In contrast to the recognisable USB-A connector, the B-type connector was created to connect USB peripherals, typically larger devices such as printers and upstream interfaces on hubs, while reducing the risk of directly connecting two computer hosts. Newer devices have switched from USB-B to smaller Micro-USB, Mini-USB, and USB-C connectors.

What’s the difference between Mini, Micro and others?

USB-A, which was widely used in the 1990s, has been largely replaced by Mini and Micro. Mini-USB is the smaller version of the USB-B that was developed before Micro-USB. It’s uncommon to see Mini-USB currently although you can still find them on older electronics like MP3 players. Micro-USB was developed for portable devices such as Android tablets, and it is available in both Type-A and Type-B Micro configurations. Micro-USB is smaller than USB-A and Mini USB and is still used by some devices as it is less costly than USB-C.

While improving convenience, Micro-USB also offered faster transfer rates than Mini-USB. However, the complexity and variety of versions caused user confusion, triggering the USB-C design for simplification. 

USB-C vs Thunderbolt

USB-C is physically not compatible with Thunderbolt although USB-C will support Thunderbolt protocol. Thunderbolt is a hardware interface technology that allows various devices to be connected to a laptop. Thunderbolt 3 and 4 are now widely used in USB-C ports and support up to 100 watts of power and a maximum transfer speed of 40GB/s. The ability to support two 4K displays or one 8K display is Thunderbolt 4's most significant advancement, and it is rated as "compliant" with the USB4 specification. Also, Thunderbolt 4 systems will need to support a data rate of 32Gbps, double the requirement for Thunderbolt 3 systems, potentially benefiting users who frequently transfer large video or data files from storage drives to their PC for editing.

Is Thunderbolt the same as USB-C?

No, USB-C is physically not compatible with Thunderbolt. Despite the fact that Thunderbolt has recently adopted the use of USB-C connectors, they’re still distinct connection technologies. 

How do I know if my device has a Thunderbolt port?

USB-C vs Thunderbolt

Not every USB-C port you see has necessarily got Thunderbolt capability, much like with the display port over USB-C. You can either see if there is a thunderbolt icon next to your device’s USB-C port or you can check your device’s tech specs online to see if it mentions Thunderbolt ports in the product description. For instance, some models of the Apple MacBook Pro boast four Thunderbolt connectors, which is more than any other model to date, giving you more expansion potential than ever before.

USB-C vs Lightning

UBS-C vs Lightning

Lightning is a connector that was created and designed by Apple in 2012. Apart from the obvious difference in shape, the biggest difference from the technical point of view is the symmetrical pin position (same 4 pins on both sides), which is very different from the number of pins on a normal USB-C connector.

Are all USB-C connectors the same?

No, USB-C connectors are not designed equally in features. USB-C represents one shape and type of USB but carries different specifications, like transfer speed and current rating. In terms of specifications, the USB-C has progressed from USB2.0 to the latest USB4 (40Gbps).

USB-C evolution

Is USB-C faster for charging?

Yes, USB-C enables faster charging speeds, but the device's charging circuit and cable must be of the same standard.

The amount of electricity flowing and the strength of the electric current are determined by amperage and voltage. Most small devices, such as phones, can handle 2.4A/5V. Manufacturers increase the voltage from 5V to 9V or 12V and beyond for fast charging, or increase the amperage to 3A and above. USB-C helps with this by supporting up to 100W and 20V, but using fast-charging standards is necessary for fast charging to work.

Can USB-C be used for display?

Yes, USB-C can transfer a large amount of information including video data but it depends on the transport protocol that determines the specification. Also, not every USB-C device needs to support video output. Therefore, it’s critical to know whether the USB-C port on your device is compatible with display transport.


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