Guide to USB 3 & USB Type-C

An intro to USB 3

Most smartphones and tablets nowadays work using USB 2.0, but that’s set to change. USB 3.0 has been used on computers since 2010 (you might remember the distinctive blue ports), and soon we’ll see it on mobile devices too. The new standard boasts faster file transfers and charging, and a new connector that’s made headlines recently.

Samsung experimented with using a full-size USB 3.0 connector on the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S5 (shown to the right), but didn’t return to it for their next generation devices.

USB Type-C

It looks like the first widescale adoption of USB 3 will be using the new USB Type-C connector, which was introduced with USB 3.1. This connector is high-speed, reversible, and can be used for data, power and video connections, so it can feasibly replace every other common connector. However, it’s not backwards-compatible with previous connectors, so you’ll need to use new USB Type-C cables any time you see the new connector.

Apple and Google have already announced laptops with Type-C connectors, and recently LeTV announced a trio of Type-C Android phones as well. In fact, the new MacBook only includes a USB Type-C port and a headphone port, with the Type-C being used for charging, video and data connections. Over the next couple of years, expect USB Type-C to become the new standard connector for mobile phones and tablets.

Interestingly, it’s still possible to use a USB Type-C port at USB 2.0 speeds, which is what’s happening with the LeTV phones. This means that you won’t get faster transfer or charging speeds, but it ensures manufacturers don’t need to include pricy USB 3 controllers on their mobile chipsets.

We’ll likely see USB Type C phones with USB 2.0 this way for the next year or two, with a move to USB 3 once prices come down.

Questions? Comments?

I hope I’ve covered everything you wanted to know about USB 3 and USB Type-C. If you have any further questions, please ask them below and I’ll update the article accordingly! You can also reach us on Twitter @mobilefun.