No More USB Frustration With The New Reversible USB 3.1 Cable

April 2, 2014 - Written By Peter Holden


I’m sure that everyone has experienced a degree of frustration when it comes to inserting USB cables into devices, whether it’s trying to plug the charger cable into your phone in the dark or having to reach under a table to try to plug the USB cable into the back of the PC. Sometimes you can rotate the cable in any number of positions, with the same result of it being unable to fit into the socket. If so, you’ll be glad to hear that the people responsible for the various USB connector standards have taken heed of your frustration, and their solution is the USB 3.1 standard (Type C) which is due to be finalised in July.

The Type C connector is similar to Apples Lightning connector, in that it is reversible, and its exactly the same at each end of the cable. Theres no¬†up or down or wrong way round, with the board in the jack sitting in the middle, being covered on both sides and symmetrical. As you can see from the main picture, it looks fairly similar to the Micro-B plug, albeit a little smaller: just 8.3mm wide and 2.5mm tall. Unlike the Micro-B socket, the Type C connector doesn’t need to be divided into two to support USB 3.0 (like the Note 3). Naturally, because USB 3.1 uses a new type of socket, it isn’t mechanically compatible with current USB plugs and sockets, but adapters will be available.

With the new USB standard comes new features, one of which is offering up to 10Gbps of bandwidth, up from the 5Gbps offered by USB 3.0, which means it can theoretically transfer 4k video at 30fps. Another positive is faster charging times, with between 3 A and 5 A of scalable current, a vast improvement over 1.5 A. It will be interesting to see which new handset is first to be compliant with the new standard.

Despite my in-laws calling me the Cable Guy (It’s not unheard for me to arrive on holiday in South Africa with multi plug adaptors, usb extensions, ethernet cables and other wiring paraphernalia), it’s not usually a common thing to become excited about a new socket or cable. But on this occasion, I believe we have every right to be. Anything that helps minimise the frustration of inserting USB cables can only be a good thing. Now if only the committee that is responsible for the HDMI socket would follow suit. ? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or via our Google Plus page.