Reversible USB Type-C coming in July

By , Apr 2, 2014

USB 3.1 reversible cable Type C (image 001)

Apple in late-2012 debuted the then new Lightning I/O as a replacement for the aging, decade-old 30-pin Dock connector. One of its most compelling features: the symmetrical design allowing the cable to be inserted with either side facing up.

I reckoned at the time that the industry would scramble to replicate Apple’s innovation. Sure enough, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group last December unveiled a new USB Type-C specification with much smaller, twice as fast connectors and cables.

You guessed right, USB Type-C is reversible so the new cables and connectors can be plugged in without worrying about the orientation. Leaked straight out of the world’s top contract manufacturer, Foxconn, the first renders give us a glimpse into the USB’s new Type-C, coming this July…

As pictured top of post, the proposed standard uses smart design where there’s no top or bottom as the plugs are symmetrical – that is, the same at both ends of the cable.

As reported by The Verge, USB Type-C is intended to replace both the regular USB and the smaller Micro USB with one universal standard. Featuring a markedly smaller footprint, the Type-C connector is similar in size to the existing USB 2.0 Micro-B.

In addition to up to 10Gbps bandwidth – twice as much versus the 5Gbps available on USB 3.0 - and the reversible design allowing you to plug in the cable without worrying about its orientation (again, much like Apple’s Lightning), USB Type-C supports scalable power charging thanks to between three and five amperes, up from 1.5A on USB 3.0.

USB 3.1 reversible cable Type C (image 002)

Pictured above: a reference notebook design for USB Type-C connector.

And like Lightning, the much thinner design of USB Type-C (in the range of Apple’s Lightning cable size) will make possible even thinner smartphones, tablets, ultra-thin notebooks and so forth.

The bulkiness of the existing USB 3.0 and lack of advanced features are exactly the reasons why Apple couldn’t simply adopt USB 3.0 on iOS devices and instead had to engineer the tiny Lightning I/O.

However, due to the changed design of Type-C connectors and cables as, your existing USB plugs and receptacles won’t work with the new USB Type-C. Expect a whole cottage industry to blossom around new-to-existing cables and adapters.

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group says the connector design scales for future USB bus performance so Type-C ports and connectors should remain unchanged in the years to come.

MacBook Air (left angled, iPhoto)

The design and the full specifications should be finalized in July so expect to see USB Type-C implemented and adopted later in the year across a variety of devices and OEMs.

Apple’s Mac family currently uses USB 3.0.

If history is an indication, we expect Apple to eventually adopt the new Type-C plugs across its lineup, starting with Macs. Curiously enough, the Lightning-to-USB cable which ships with every iPhone, iPod touch and iPad still uses USB 2.0.

If Apple chooses to update the cable to use the emerging USB Type-C, it will be reversible on both sides, how cool is that?

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  • Byron C Mayes

    Apple’s leadership in the industry shows up once again. I’m sure they’re sincerely flattered.

    • on3simpleclick

      “USB was developed by a group of seven companies that saw a need for an interconnect to enable the growth of the blossoming Computer Telephone Integration Industry. The seven promoters of the USB definition are; Compaq, Digital Equipment Corp, IBM PC Co., Intel, Microsoft, NEC and Northern Telecom.”

      Apple might have shrunk it down, but Apple didn’t pave the road.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Apple made a proprietary reversible connector, first in the iWorld, so he thinks it’s the first on earth. He’s probably never seen nor heard of reversible pogo connectors ’cause they’re not made by Apple…

      • duck hairs

        Reading this article it seems the author doesn’t know about those either

      • Ashish Maheshwari

        then why didnt the all mighty seven companies make the USB standard reversible earlier?
        if it were that obvious, USB should have been reversible since the USB 2.0 standard. its so fragmented. not so long ago, there were mobiles coming with micro USB or mini USB, thus creating more fragmentation :|
        a person as amateur as me thought of this reversible thing when i was 15 years old. but then i had no real power :p

      • @sexyhamthing

        Because it didnt need to be -_-..

        that and its easier to manufacture the huge slab that USB 2 is than this little concept deal

      • Ashish Maheshwari

        why didnt it need to be? its a hassle.

        and sources on your point that its easier to manufacture?

        even if it is, newer technology needs to be adopted for its advantages and convenience over a little complication in manufacturing.

    • mrgerbik

      go away

    • BozzyB

      Please don’t mention connectors, leadership and apple in one sentence!

  • Leonard Wong

    That will be useful. I hate to see which side to plug in

  • Techno Ventures

    Yes!

    Finally.

  • Maxim∑

    Apples leading the way as usual

    • BozzyB

      Apple reverted their 30 pin connector to a smaller one. The mistake they did again in this process was not to adapt the microusb standard IF they already changed it. Now they have to think about to change it again to USB 3.1.

  • Lucus Bendzsa

    Man it is good as it is so don’t mess up good things

  • Nate McKelvie

    FINALLY a cable I can sell in my store that the customer doesn’t pick up look at the USB side and say “this won’t fit in my device!” Then as politely as I can ( while thinking in my head “how do you survive through the day” ) I reach over and show them the OTHER end of the cable!

    • :/

      You must live in idiotsville.I don’t think most people are that stupid to not realise to turn the cable around if the side they tried doesn’t fit. I call bs on this

      • Rickm_jr

        When I went to a client’s computer after they tried connecting things themselves, I found they literally forced a USB end into an ethernet port. It’s like, come on, not even the same shape!

      • Nate McKelvie

        Well then you sir are the one living in denial on just how stupid the human race really can be. My store is on pier 39 in SF, so my customers are from all over the world, and I get LOTS of customers and I would say at least 10-15 people a day say this. Never under estimate the stupidity of the average person. Like the guy who commented below o you pointed out, people do things that to the rest of us seem so insanely stupid. Try doing tech support and you will see. I did that when I was a teenager for an ISP and people would call and say there modem didn’t work, and after hours of troubleshooting I would realize they didn’t even plug it in

  • QuarterSwede

    The reason Lighting is only USB 2 currently is because iDevice bus can’t go fast enough to support USB 3. It would be wasted speed.

    • on3simpleclick

      Your forgetting that USB 3 isn’t going to be used ONLY by Apple. Its a ‘standard’, and will eventually be adopted by every piece of electronic equipment, regardless if it is an Apple device or not. The speed would definitely not be wasted, because there will always be products that welcome the extra speed. Lightning might be patended by Apple, but USB3 is what will change the game.

      • Ashish Maheshwari

        dont go tough on him man.. he’s just stating the reason for why lightning cables still come with USB 2.0

    • Ashish Maheshwari

      any source on this?

      • Sleaka J

        He’s right about one thing, it would be wasted speed. But not because of the bus. It’s because of the write speed of the NAND isn’t fast enough to support USB3 speeds.

  • Micaiah Martin

    ladies and gentlemen….meet the new gay cable…(male on both ends! :D).

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

      Ah, the irony…the cable that comes with EVERY iOS device is male (USB) to male (Lightning), so, you saying all iDevice cables are gay?

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    Splendid, now I’m thinking of holding off on my decision to upgrade to the 256GB SSD+8GB RAM Surface Pro 2 ’cause this is probably what will make the Surface Pro 3 thinner…

  • duck hairs

    Would be nice if you clarified on that image which one is in fact the new connector, I’m sure many people wrongly thought it was the blue one…

  • smtp25

    this came about before lightning I’m pretty sure, at the planning/ratificaiton stage at least.

  • @sexyhamthing

    All my USB cables have raised USB icons that i can feel physically (except apples…. go figure..)… i rarely have issues plugging USB into my keyboard or front panel -_-

  • BozzyB

    The advantage of type c connectors is that the contacts are protected. I read about several issues with the lightning connector and asked myself why it has no shielding. Every engineer is aware of this risk but not apple “designers”.