First renders of the reversible USB 3.1 cable released

First renders of the reversible USB 3.1 cable leak

We’ve become accustomed to knowing one end of a USB cable has to go into a computer or charger, and the other end goes into your phone, but there is a future where you can use either end in either thingie, and this is what that utopian paradise looks like. The USB Implementers Forum is showing off two USB 3.1 connector standards today.

Type-C shows off a design similar to the microUSB format we all know and love, except it’s the same at both ends, and there’s no set top or bottom for those plugs. This reversible tip is a feature Apple’s been getting an early lead with using their Lightning connector, though the more direct comparison would be Apple’s Thunderbolt. The Micro-B cable shows a slightly wider mobile connector we’ve already seen cropping up in devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Why do we need a new USB standard? Well, increased data speeds for one. We’re talking 10 Gbps, versus the 5 Gbps available on USB 3.0. Two, you can expect faster charging times. We’ll be getting between 3 A and 5 A of current, up from 1.5 A. All of these new USB plugs will be backwards compatible with the 3.0 products in market (with an adapter, maybe?), so no need to worry about things getting too wonky with your existing hardware. In any case, it’ll be cool to start seeing micro-sized plugs built into PCs and chargers.

USB 3.1 port render

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Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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Reader comments

First renders of the reversible USB 3.1 cable released


I like where this is headed but I was really hoping that they would go thinner, both on the actual connector and the "rubbery" piece around it.

What does the increased charging speed mean for battery health? I thought that slower charging was better for it.

Battery technology is one of the most rapidly changing, and varied technologies there is. There are no "rules" for charging batteries, because all batteries are different, even batteries from the same company with the same brand often have quite different characteristics.

Most "common sense" rules you may have heard about batteries and how to charge or not charge them are really closer to old wives tales than relevant fact and there is no one rule for *all* batteries in any case.

New speeds are always good, but I think it's pretty obvious that they have copied the Thunderbolt connector wholesale with the new USB "C" type plug. It looks so similar in size, shape and general appearance, that people are going to be plugging thunderbolt cables into USB C slots and vice versa.

For the sake of plain common sense, they should have made it look different enough so as not to be confusing. Irrespective of that, they should also be simply ashamed to copy the Thunderbolt connector so closely, and since it will affect Apple adversely more than anyone else, I'm not sure they should even be allowed to produce such a thing.

Strange, when I first looked at it I immediately thought how different it looked from a lightning connector.

How will it adversely affect Apple? You are also being wayyyy over dramatic. If anyone needs to be ashamed, it is Apple, for forcing people to use their proprietary cables when every other device on the planet uses USB. They also should be ashamed of the prices they charge for them. Seriously, it's sickening, especially since Apple cables wear out so easily - I have never had a USB cable fray, but I sure have seen quite a few Apple cables do so, dangerously exposing wire. There is no reason whatsoever for Apple to use a proprietary connector except to bilk folks out of even more money and unfairly cut out competition.

So yeah, if you really feel badly for Apple here, you really aren't looking at the big picture and are so deep in the bubble it must be tough to catch breath.

Apple has nothing to be ashamed about. They stayed with the 30-pin connector at a time when MicroUSB was incapable of handling all the audio, video, data and charging functionality that their own design could. Then they changed to the lighten connector because it's digital not analog so they can add functionality as needed without having to change the connector again and made it reversible for good measure. Thunderbolt is a product of Intel (originally called Light Peak) which no other computer manufacture wanted to invest in due to its cost. Apple took it on by themselves first and now everyone else is finally incorporating it into their computers and motherboards and wants to be praised for it. USB is now old and slow and in an attempt to keep the status quo and render Light Peak irrelevant their making a new USB standard instead just to save themselves some money.

I make no excuse for the fraying of Apples cables but you can always find them for less than half price on the web if you must have Apple's stuff. Ubiquity is nice but that doesn't make it the best solution.