USB Type-C has become the universal charging standard over the past few years. Phone reviewers are now disappointed if a new smartphone comes with a micro-USB port, and even a lot of affordable smartphones now sport USB-C. If you need a new charger, here are the best USB-C cables you can buy!
Best USB Type-C cables:
- AmazonBasics USB-C cables
- Anker Powerline 3 and Thunderbolt cables
- Nekteck Thunderbolt 3 cable
- Belkin USB-C cables
- Apple USB-C cables
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best USB Type-C cables regularly as new ones launch.
Things to know
The unfortunate truth is that USB-C is still a mess in 2021. USB Type-C cables from various OEMs and third-party manufacturers may look the same, but they’re vastly different. Not every cable is made equal, and some can be downright dangerous for your device. It’s gotten much better than what the situation was three or four years ago, but there are things you should look out for.
- USB-IF – USB-IF (USB Implementers Forum) announced a Certified USB Charger Compliance and Logo Program back in 2016 to offer USB chargers for compliant USB-C devices. Looking for “certified by USB-IF” or the USB-IF logo is one way to check whether a third-party cable is a good choice. If you aren’t sure of a device, you can check whether it’s listed on the USB-IF Product Search page.
- USB 2.0/3.0/3.1/Thunderbolt 3 – Currently, we have cables that could be compatible with USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB 3.1 (Gen 1 and Gen 2), with the version number defining function and speed. USB 3.2 and USB 4 standards were also introduced within days of each other. USB 2.0 offers a theoretical transfer speed of up to 480Mbps. USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 Gen 1 ups that to 5Gbps, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 doubles that. Finally, Thunderbolt 3 is the fastest by far, with an impressive theoretical data transfer speed of 40Gbps. However, keep in mind that factors like cable length (shorter the better for faster speeds) also play a role.
- Wattage – This gives you an idea of charging speed. USB Power Delivery augments the basic USB charging speeds for up to 100W of output power. The amount of available power is split into different power ratings, which operate at different voltages. The 7.5W+ and 15W+ modes are best for phones, while 27W and above are for laptops and other higher power devices.
Checking compatibility is very important when buying a USB-C cable.
- The cable may support faster data transfer and charging speeds, but the device you are using may not.
- If you are looking for a cable capable of carrying video, you’ll need one that meets the USB 3.1 Gen 2 or Thunderbolt 3 standards.
- Cables that meet higher standards are also more expensive. If you are looking to charge a smartphone, a USB-C (USB 2.0) cable may be more than enough. That said, backward compatibility isn’t an issue.
- Cable length is an important factor as well. You may want a longer cable, but this may impact data transfer speeds.
AmazonBasics USB Type-C cables
Amazon has a lot of different types of USB-C cables under its AmazonBasics brand, and all of them are USB-IF certified, and you get a 1-year limited warranty as well. The most affordable of the lot is a USB-C to USB-C (USB 2.0) cable, with cable lengths ranging from 6 inches to 9ft. This cable is priced starting at around $6.50.
See also: USB-C and 3.1: clearing up the confusion
Next is a USB-C to USB-C (USB 3.0 Gen 1) cable, available in 3ft and 6ft lengths. This comes with a starting price of around $19. To connect your smartphone to a laptop, you can also get a USB-C to USB-A (USB 3.1 Gen 2), which will set you back around $10. You can also get a USB-C to micro-USB cable, ideal for connecting your phone to a power bank, many of which still come with micro-USB ports.
The final option from AmazonBasics is the USB-C to USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 2) cable. It comes in four colors at a length of one or three feet, and the cable will run you about $19.
Anker Powerline 3 and Thunderbolt
Nekteck USB-C cables
For incredibly fast data transfer speeds, these two USB-C to USB-C Nekteck cables are some of the best USB Type-C cables you can buy. The first is a USB PD and USB 3.1 Gen 2 cable that is also Thunderbolt 3 compatible and can carry video and offer data transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps.
The other option is a Thunderbolt 3 cable that meets Intel’s qualification standards. It supports data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps (up to 20Gbps for the longer cable lengths) and 4K video output. The shortest 1.5ft cable offers the fastest speeds, but 3ft and 6ft cables are available.
Belkin USB Type-C cables
Like the other cable manufacturers on this list, Belkin has a few options to choose between depending on your needs. First is a USB-C to USB-A (USB 3.1) that is 3ft long. You can also get a 3.3ft USB-C to USB-C (USB 3.1) cable as well. Belkin also sells a USB 3.1 Gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3 compatible cable with up to 60W power delivery for ultra-fast data transfer speeds.
See also: Best USB-C portable battery chargers
All cables are USB-IF and Thunderbolt 3 (for the last option) certified. The Belkin USB-C cables are admittedly on the pricier side, but they still won’t break the bank.
Apple USB-C cables
Apple has a design language all its own, and it excels at making things complicated for everyone else. Charging is part of the rule rather than the exception due to Apple’s insistence on using the Lightning connector. Many of the cables you’ll find in this section are built to handle that Lightning connection, and many of them come from Apple itself as a result.
See also: The best Apple MacBook accessories
Luckily for MacBook and latest-generation iPad users, Apple has embraced the USB-C revolution with a long USB-C to USB-C connector. It comes in white — it’s an Apple product, after all — and it stretches out to a full length of two meters, which should be plenty of length.
If you’re looking for a Lightning-based replacement instead, Apple offers a USB-C cable in both one-meter and two-meter configurations. It’s the fastest option for most iOS purposes as the USB-C to Lightning cable is compatible with 29W, 61W, and 87W adapters. Unfortunately, Apple’s first-party cables never seem to offer much in the way of reinforcement or durability.
Last but certainly not least is Apple’s USB-C to USB-C Thunderbolt cable. It’s Cupertino’s quickest cable, supporting 40Gbps transfer speeds and charging at up to 100W. Sadly there’s no Thunderbolt to Lightning option, though, because that would be too shocking for Apple. The Thunderbolt 3 cable measures a maximum of 0.8 meters long.