Hallelujah: USB Type-C grabs Lightning's best feature

A new USB plug might not seem like a big deal, but if you've ever cursed your smartphone charger because you can't get it to connect seemingly no matter which way you flip it, USB Type-C being finalized is going to make your day. The new connector, outlined last April, can be plugged into a device in either orientation, as well as supporting faster data transfers and more power.

Similar in size to a current USB 2.0 Micro-B plug, the new design has been made with a broad range of mobile device in mind, spanning from laptops down through tablets to smartphones.

It can deliver up to 3A for standard cables, and up to 5A for connectors, which should add up to faster charging with compatible devices; in fact, up to 100W is potentially possible. Data rates of up to 10Gbps are supported.

The goal is to make a single cable and connector that works across platforms and devices, rather than have a range of sizes as has been the case previously with regular, mini, and micro USB among others. The improvements in data rate and power also opens the door to a new type of hub.

That, the USB-IF group behind the standard suggests, could have a single USB Type-C connection that powers and recharges your laptop, while also connecting multiple external screens and other peripherals.

Unfortunately, Type-C also comes with a drawback or two. For a start, it's not backward compatible with existing USB connections, though the USB-IF says that passive adapters will allow for semi-straightforward use.

IMAGE Marco Monetti