The next generation USB connector will finally be reversible

December 4, 2013

microUSB comedy_nose

The group of companies promoting the USB 3.0 standard announced a new generation USB connector is in the works with a target of finalization set for mid-2014. Called USB Type-C, this new type of connector should allow manufacturers to create thinner designs, will improve usability, and will be scalable for future performance enhancements.

For users, the most visible benefit will be the ability to plug in the connector in any orientation, similarly to Apple’s Lightning connectors. In other words, we will finally put behind us the frustration of trying to insert the plug the wrong way.

According to Intel, one of the companies supporting the Type-C plug, “this new industry standards-based thin connector delivering data, power and video is the only connector one will need across all devices.”

The USB Type-C connector will be comparable in size with the current USB 2.0 micro-B plug (pictured above), which is widely used on Android devices. In addition to being compact and reversible, the plug will be able to scale in performance, as future USB standards are implemented.

However, the changes will break compatibility with older types of connectors, for which adapters and new types of cables will be needed.

The upcoming Type-C connector is an extension of the USB 3.1 standard, which supports transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s and power profiles for scalable charging, allowing devices with different power demands to charge through the same type of cable. USB 3.1 was announced in July 2013, and first products supporting it may come in late 2014.

Show Press Release

Next Generation USB Connection Definition Underway
USB 3.0 Promoter Group announces development of USB Type-C Specification

Beaverton, OR – December 3, 2013 – The USB 3.0 Promoter Group today announced that
the development of the next generation of USB connector has begun. The new USB Type-C
connector, built initially on existing USB 3.1 and USB 2.0 technologies, is being developed
to help enable thinner and sleeker product designs, enhance usability and provide a growth
path for performance enhancements for future versions of USB. This supplement to the USB
3.1 specification is anticipated to be completed by the middle of next year.

Key characteristics of the USB Type-C connector and cable solution include:

 An entirely new design tailored to work well with emerging product designs
 New smaller size – similar in size to the existing USB 2.0 Micro-B
 Usability enhancements – users will no longer need to be concerned with plug
orientation/cable direction, making it easier to plug in
 The Type-C connector and cable will support scalable power charging
 Scalability – the connector design will scale for future USB bus performance

As the new USB Type-C plug and receptacle will not directly mate with existing USB plugs
and receptacles (Type-A, Type-B, Micro-B, etc.), the Type-C specification will define passive
new-to-existing cables and adapters to allow users to use their existing products.

“While USB technology is well established as the favored choice for connecting and powering
devices, we recognize the need to develop a new connector to meet evolving design trends
in terms of size and usability,” said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman.
“The new Type-C connector will fit well with the market’s direction and affords an
opportunity to lay a foundation for future versions of USB.”

“Intel is excited to see the development of the new thin Type-C connector as it will enable
an entirely new super thin class of devices from phones to tablets, to 2-in-1s, to laptops to
desktops and a multitude of other more specific usage devices,” said Alex Peleg, Vice
President, Platform Engineering Group. “This new industry standards-based thin connector
delivering data, power and video is the only connector one will need across all devices.”

“The new Type-C connector furthers USB’s lead in addressing customer desire for more
flexibility and higher performance,” said Roland Sperlich, TI Consumer and Computing
Interface Product Line Manager. “This allows USB to increase performance and continue to
deliver ease of use to several evolving product categories for years to come.”

The USB Type-C specification is targeted for industry review during the first quarter of 2014
and a final specification is expected to be published by the middle of 2014. Further
information regarding the specification and plans for pre-release industry reviews will be

Comments

  • MasterMuffin

    And we’ll have this in smartphones in like late 2015/early 2016 at best? :)

    • IDontKnowMyName

      I hope sooner than that but I think you are right.

  • Shark Bait

    Reversible is good but it anoys me they have to change a standard. At last all (not apple) phones come with the same charger!
    I hope every one get on board with this at the sane time but I bet they won’t and it will be like the old days again

    • poop

      Well, at least it’s not proprietary chargers vs. these Type-Cs. If one phone doesn’t have a Type C, it’ll simply have a micro-B :D

    • PL

      For me its funny how ppl paid so much money for iPhone 5s and were crying “I can’t connect it to my speaker omg qq” Just shut up and buy new one. If you have money for high end phone, you have money for new audio, or whatever you got there.

    • mobilemann

      apple chargers still have USB, just need a different cable.

      • Shark Bait

        i meant cable, i like to turn up somewhere an borrow their cable to charge. I dont like my iphone friends as much lol

        • mobilemann

          I use both platforms, so I don’t like comments like that to much:)

  • PL

    YES YES YES!!! I hate micro USB that we have now (its ugly and easy to brake), this news made my day.

  • zamroni

    Watch out for patent suit from Apple

    • IDontKnowMyName

      lol I will be really surprised if Apple has patented the orientation of plugging it in.
      As for the actual connection, it’s a different interface so it wont qualify. One is USB the other is Lightning.

      • MrMagoo

        Sir… no disrespect… but nowadays, when it comes to patents on things like the way an onscreen button reacts when you press it, or how a list reacts when you get to the end, nothing surprises me. I found this article, and the first of the commments pretty much says it all…. http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/07/apple-patent-gui-iphone/ They will and do patent anything they can.

  • Telveer

    Cool but does not affect me much. The last time I used a cable with my phone was to root it. My phone is fully wireless otherwise (sync, charge, update, patch). Wireless is the way to go for mobile devices.

    • Jason Yuen

      For the most part, I’m the same. I still use a cable when I want to transfer large files like movies or if I need an emergency booster charge. Otherwise it’s dropbox with dropsync app and QI wireless charger everywhere I go. Nothing like snapping a picture and having it automatically sync wirelessly to my desktop computer. A wireless charger by my bed side, 1 on my desk, and another at work.

      • TjaldidTjaldid

        I’m hoping that the rumored Sony developed QI standard will be real because it will boast charging speeds by so much

    • vernon X

      How do u charge then

      • Telveer

        Qi Wireless charger

    • Christian Harris

      I still use my cable to put it on the charger when I go to bed so my app can wake me up at the optimized time for the amount I get in sleep.

      And then when I’m on the computer, bored on Sunday I plug it in to let it charge while I send the occasional text.

    • Severen Redwood

      I can’t find any Qi chargers available for purchase in NZ. ;~; No wireless charging for me xD

  • Jerren Solomon

    ”frustration of trying to insert the plug the wrong way”
    I didn’t know this was a problem for people

    • Hellz

      it is when you try to plug your usb in your pc that is stuck somewhere in a corner in low light conditions

      • TjaldidTjaldid

        isn’t this just on one end though (the smartphone end not the PC end)?

    • Roberto Tomás

      especially when you’re drunk

  • Roberto Tomás

    similarly to Apple’s Lightning connectors
    also similar to every audio TRS connector since the mid 1950s. But hey, why not rewrite history?

    • Jeff Bargminton

      That’s for audio not for data…

      • kay yon

        Data is still being transferred through audio cables.

      • Severen Redwood

        Derp.

      • Disquised

        well Audio is also a “data” that travels.

    • mobilemann

      you don’t have to freak out anytime anyone says the word apple. makes you look 10.

      • Roberto Tomás

        I’m not the one injecting apple into everything…

        • mobilemann

          So you took issue to them citing apple as having a similar reversible plug because of a cable existed from a completely different industry ages ago? lol

          • Roberto Tomás

            *sigh* okay so I see you really have a hard on for discussing Apple. I take issue with declaring some obscure connector on some piece of kit that’s hardly been around for more than half a decade as the origin of some other piece of kit devised by some other company —especially in a context when the real idea behind it is literally more than half a century old and has literally circled the world serveral times in the most purchased forms of technology on the planet — and I mean all of them. … jeez. go away now, you bother me.

          • mobilemann

            no, i just thought it was funny an article couldn’t mention them without you being an idiot. Thanks for the conformation.

          • Roberto Tomás

            thanks for coming over here and starting a fight with me out of the blue. I just love that.

          • Domino

            I cannot believe mobiledouche. Doesn’t even matter. Anyway I found it funny that they used that wording as well haha with the same mind set and conclusion too. :Perty interesting I believe

  • Roberto Tomás

    serious question —does this mean that manufacturers will put off USB 3.1 to get uniformity in the connectors? I mean, will 3.1 only come with this new connector? If so, I hate this new spec!

  • Jason Yuen

    I actually don’t have much of an issue with the micro USB side of the cable. It’s the other end that I need to reverse 3 times before being able to plug it into the computer. Better yet, why not make both ends reversible?

    • Julian

      It will be, they’re talking about making the normal USB connector into the new type C standard that will make it as small as the current micro B. So it will be thinner allowing it to have less of an impact on laptop/tablet profile and also be reversible.

  • DavidEssex

    I brought donuts!

  • TjaldidTjaldid

    Does this mean one standard for tablets? or is that way off…

    • Gabriel Moraes

      “allowing devices with different power demands to charge through the same type of cable”

      As the only thing that holds MicroUSB Type C from being present on every tablet is the power limit imposed on the standard. With that quote, most likely it’ll be used widely through phones and tablets.
      USB 3.0 does allow 900mA, but its Type-C connector is plain bulky. I’d not be surprised if 3.1 allowed up to 2A, as it seems being made strictly due to portable devices demand.

  • William Larsson

    Keep calm and use wireless chargers.

  • Matt

    So can someone confirm, will you be able to get a USB 2.0 to USB 3.1 type C connector, to use a new phone on an old PC? It should be backwards compatible [USB 3.1 to 2.0], and as long as the wires can be connected right in the cable, it should work.

    • Telveer

      USB standard is backward compatible

    • Gabriel Moraes

      It won’t change the PC side. Yes, it’ll be compatible with a standard USB port.

      Type-C won’t be compatible with any other “Types”, as with every other Type-X port (Type-A isn’t compatible with Type-B et al)

  • Christian Harris

    I love how everyone bitched when Apple made lightning, citing the same thing they said in this article. And now that they are doing it for Android it’s the best thing ever. LOL

    • Telveer

      This has nothing to do with Android, or Apple. USB is an industry standard thats used by a variety of devices including PCs (that includes Macs too), digital photo frames, phones, tablets, entertainment systems, etc

      And mobile phones should be moving to wireless charging and syncing … something that Android based devices have been doing for a few years now. Apple had to “invent” a new proprietary connector (their old connector was proprietary too) and call it Lightning!

  • King Dong

    Not again will they ever so fxxxxxg with USB designs!

  • Guest

    a universal charger would be a life saver.

  • chico13

    why is this such an issue most micro USB cable have a small indentation logo on one side and nothing on the other not (galaxy s 3 cable) if not it’s very easy to simply put a drop of glue on the side facing up and letting it dry to a small dot that way you can feel what site is up no muss no fuss even in the dark you know what side to connect as far as the actual computer USB or concernscomputer manufacturers shouldmake it universal to have a logo on one side or and indentation on the side facing up of the USB port but the computer industry is made by several entities that have their own way of doing things no universal collaboration really as far as design is concern