For years and years now, since the likes of the original Nexus One from Google themselves, we've been charging and syncing our devices with microUSB cables. These have, for a long time now, served our needs admirably, and while we often looked on with envy as iPhone users would plug in their cables either way they wanted to, we're now in a transitional phase over to the newer, quicker and more powerful USB Type-C connector. Reversible and capable of transferring at USB 3.0 speeds, Type-C has huge potential to turn what used to be a port good for just charging and transferring files into a port that essentially does everything. However, not all USB Type-C cables made are equal, and in the case of popular cable, battery and accessory manufacturer Anker, one of them has to be recalled as it's potentially dangerous to your beloved smartphone.
Many of you will be familiar with whether or not a device or cable is USB Type-C compliant, which effectively says whether or not the item in question lines up with the specification for Type-C itself. For something to not be compliant with the official spec, it might end up carrying too much voltage, like the HTC 10 and LG G5 do for their Quick Charge features. It's voltage that has gotten Anker into hot water, namely their PowerLine 3.1 Gen2 A8185011 model. It's specifically the A8185011 model that appears to be the issue, and after the below YouTube video demonstrates the issue, Anker is now issuing a product recall and offering everyone that had bought one a full refund in an email to customers with the issue that says "We are offering all of our PowerLine USB-C A8185011 users a full refund. In addition, we would like to offer a free Anker PowerLine USB-C cable to affected customers once we have improved Anker PowerLine USB-C A8185011."
The problem is that the A8185011 cable from Anker effectively remembers the voltage from one device to another. With microUSB this isn't so much of a problem as the maximum a microUSB cable can handle isn't all that high to begin with, but USB Type-C cables can charge laptops – such as the Chromebook Pixel and the new MacBook – with as much as 20V. When the A8185011 is used with a higher-voltage device, then used with a lower-voltage device in that order, it charges the latter with the voltage of the former. This is bad news for those that share one of the A8185011 cables with their laptop and their smartphone for instance, as using it with the laptop and then the smartphone could end up sending a lot more power than the smartphone is capable of dealing with. Hearing of this news is perhaps not all that encouraging, but at least Anker is accepting that there is a problem and are doing something about it.