USB-C is the commonly-used, shortened reference to the USB Type-C specification, which defines a small reversible-plug connector for USB devices. USB-C is smaller than the traditional USB-A connector, at 2.6 millimeters tall vs. 7.5 millimeters for the USB-A connector, making it an increasingly popular choice for smartphones, tablets and laptops.
USB-C is sometimes confused with the USB 3.1 standard, as the two are typically used together on newer mobile devices. USB-C addresses only the physical connection, though, whereas the USB 3.1 and earlier standards (USB 1.1, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0) specify the speed and features of the connection.
UBS-C Supports USB Plus Power and Display
USB-C was released by the USB Implementers Forum in July 2013, and in addition to supporting USB 3.1 and earlier USB specs, it also supports DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, and power transfer. This means the same cable can be used for quick data transfer, powering USB devices, charging batteries in mobile devices, and connecting displays via HDMi, DisplayPort or VGA.
USB-C first debuted on the 2015 edition of Apple’s MacBook, and there are rumors of USB-C replacing the Lightning connector on the upcoming iPhone 7. Adoption of USB-C is expected to continue to ramp up at a rapid pace over 2016 and beyond.
USB-C Debuts Symmetrical Design in Departure from Earlier USB Connectors
While the earlier USB-A and USB-B connectors featured an asymmetrical design that could only be plugged in in one direction, the USB-C connectors are similar to Apple’s Lightning connector in that they can be plugged in without needing to concern yourself with orientation — i.e. there isn’t a right-side-up or upside-down orientation for the connector as there is in the earlier USB connectors.
Additionally, the USB Type-C cables have the same connector on both ends, so either end can be plugged into an electronic device or power source. The symmetrical design of the USB-C connector and the versatility of the specification are two of the primary reasons it’s expected to have a rapid rate of adoption on mobile devices from a wide variety of manufacturers.