What is USB-C?
USB-C is the industry-standard connector for transmitting both data and power. The USB-C connector was developed by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) who are a group of companies that have developed, certified, and shepherded the USB standard. It counts more than 700 companies in its membership, including Apple, Dell, HP, Intel, Microsoft, and Samsung. This is important because it’s part of the reason why USB-C has been so rapidly accepted by PC manufacturers. At the same time, a lot recognized brands focusing on cell phone accessories have followed suit including Belkin, Anker, Aukey, and Tronsmart who also follow the trend of launching USB-C products.
USB-C vs. Lightning
Charge Power: 12W vs. 100W
Both Lightning and USB-C are capable of conducting power at various wattages. Although Apple doesn’t disclose these specifications publicly, they are available to third-party manufacturers. It’s safe to assume that Lightning adapters can handle up to 12W of power, as provided by the iPad charger. USB-C is known to handle up to 100 watts, 20V/5A charge speed with the USB Power Delivery technology. This makes sense for laptops, which usually requires up to about 60 watts. In addition, it’s bi-directional, so a device can either send or receive power.
Data Transmission: 480Mbps vs. 10Gbps
Data transmission speed depends more on USB standards for both Lightning and USB-C. Lightning devices transfer data at USB 2.0 speeds, which is 480Mbps while USB-C can transfer data at USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen 1) speeds, 5Gbps. The default protocol with the USB-C connector is USB 3.1 which at 10Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 2), is theoretically twice as fast as USB 3.0. Less time transferring, more time doing.
Reversible: One End vs. Double End
The most obvious difference between USB-C and Lightning ports is that Lightning port is smaller, which gives Apple an advantage to make slimmer devices. And these two ports are both reversible, but USB-C to USB-C cables can be plug in through the double end that provides a more convenient user experience.
Extensive Port Support
USB-C supports simultaneously video signals and power streams. This means that you can connect to and power a native DisplayPort, MHL, or HDMI device or connect to almost anything else assuming you have the proper adapter and cables. The USB-C spec even includes audio transmissions, but so far it has not replaced the 3.5mm headphone jack on computers. This might change in the next few years.
USB Power Delivery
USB Power Delivery (USB PD) is a next-generation charging technology that supplies up to 100W output. It uses USB-C connectors and cables to deliver increased levels of power to operate larger devices such as your phones, tablets and laptops that charges them all faster than ever before. Currently, a standard USB 2.0 provides up to 2.5 watts of power – enough to charge your phone or tablet, but if you want to charge a laptop, the USB-C with USB PD technology is your best choice. USB-C could spell the end of all of those proprietary laptops charging cables used by various manufacturers. You could even charge your laptop from one of those portable battery packs that you use to charge your smartphones and other portable devices from today. You could plug your laptop into an external display connected to a power cable and that external display would charge your laptop as you used it as an external display – all via the one little USB-C connection.
As time goes on, USB-C will appear in more and more devices of all types. USB-C may even replace the Lightning connector on Apple’s iPhones and iPads one day. At that time, when your friend forgets to bring charging cable while visiting your home, you can share your USB-C cable with him/her. Doesn’t it sound exciting?
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