Is Your Charging Cable Killing Your Phone?
For years, folks with gadgets that need to be recharged have fought with those annoying, odd-shaped USB connectors. They can only be inserted one way, and they always seem to be upside down or misaligned on the first attempt. And forget about trying that in the dark! The USB-C standard was supposed to fix this problem four years ago. Read on to learn why we're not quite there yet, and why your charging cable might be damaging your phone...
The USB-C Standard Is Neither Standard Nor Universal
The USB-C specification was published in August, 2014. Its greatest improvement over previous USB specs is, in many minds, a “rotationally symmetrical” connector. That means you don’t have to worry about which side of a plug is “up;” it just fits without second or third tries. Additionally, USB-C supports data transfer speeds of up to 5 Gbps, and can carry low-amperage power to recharge compatible devices.
Microsoft’s newest line of Surface laptops, announced in October, are almost entirely lacking USB-C ports. Microsoft has been late to adopt industry standards in the past, but this time the fault lies with the standard. The latest version of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) is still not fully finalized, and competing versions of USB-C create a hazardous landmine field for consumers. The wrong USB-C cable can fry expensive hardware. Here's what you need to know about USB-C.
To borrow a line from Orwell, "All USB-C cables are equal, but some USB-C cables are more equal than others." More succinctly, not all USB-C cables are alike. All of them have the convenient oval-shaped connector. But that's where the similarities end.
Some support the fastest data speeds, others max out at slower USB 2.0 speeds. Some cables carry power, some don’t; when they do carry power, they may not carry it in both directions or support fast charging. The first USB-C standard was not compatible with Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 standard; now they are compatible, making a one-cable world possible yet still out of reach.
The confusion and lax enforcement of fast-evolving USB-C standards led to a plethora of fly-by-night cable sellers who cut corners to lower their costs and sell cables cheaply. Things got so bad that Amazon had to clean house of many USB-C cable sellers.
Microsoft is defending their decision to hold back on offering USB-C charging ports on Surface devices. “We don't want our customers plugging in the wrong 5-watt power cord from their Android phone into the Surface and then wondering why it didn't charge,” Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer Panos Panay told a Mashable reporter at the latest Surface device launch event.
In addition to its own identity crisis, USB-C faces a challenging competitor in the form of USB-A, the 20 year-old standard that is found everywhere. It will take years for USB-C to replace all of those entrenched USB-A connectors. And Apple will be in no rush to develop a Lightning-to-USB-C cable.
That said, USB-C is rapidly gaining traction in the mobile world. Mobile users are very receptive to carrying just one cable, or even relying on whatever cable is sticking out of a charging station at Starbucks.
Practice Safe Recharging
But beware of strange USB-C cables; they may be lacking important features that can, at the least, mean that your mobile device won’t charge. At worst, they may deliver too much juice and damage your device.
I bought a Motorola Moto phone from an eBay vendor about a year ago, and while the phone was new, it was shipped with cheap third-party USB-C cables. After a few months, the phone would no longer charge. I thought the battery was defective, but after purchasing a new quality charging cable, it works fine.
When buying a USB-C cable, make sure it conforms to the USB Implementors Forum standards. If you don't want to read the tech specs, you can play it safe by purchasing a USB-C cable only from the vendor who sold you the device on which it will be used. Of course, that will usually mean paying more for the cable, but it should ensure you don’t damage your device.
One day, all USB-C cables will be the same, and safe for all recent devices. But that day is not yet here. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Dec 2018
|For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.|
Geekly Update - 27 December 2018
The Top Twenty
The Quantum Internet: What's In Store For Us?
Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions
Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter
Copyright © 2005
- Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
Article information: AskBobRankin -- Is Your Charging Cable Killing Your Phone? (Posted: 28 Dec 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved