The USB 4 spec has been finalized, and the USB-IF has signed off on it. Which means that we now know it’ll be bringing us much faster transfer speeds and charging speeds up to 100W.
But the big caveat here is, we won’t be seeing it in devices anytime soon. That’s not a big surprise though, USB 3.2 is not in most devices that are being announced at IFA this week. So it’ll likely be a few years before we even start to think about USB 4.
Why should I be excited for USB 4?
There are two big things that are coming with USB 4, that most people are going to be excited about.
Firstly is the faster data transfer rate. The peak data transfer rate is going to 40Gbps. That’s doubling the rate that USB 3.2 has of 20Gbps. Of course, there is going to be a lot of other caveats when it comes to the transfer rate, and you likely will never see 40Gbps when transferring files.
Secondly, is charging speeds. Over the USB Power Delivery standards or USB PD, you’re going to be able to get 100W charging speeds. There’s not a lot of details about this available just yet, but that should be coming once the USB Developer Days conference kicks off in a few weeks.
As expected, USB 4 does have backward compatibility down to USB 2.0. That’s expected, as just about any new standard does have backward compatibility.
But perhaps the bigger deal here is Thunderbolt 3 support. With that support, future hardware should (in theory at least) be able to make use of faster speeds on older Thunderbolt-compatible devices.
When will I see USB 4-compatible devices?
Not anytime soon. Or even in 2020.
Analysts expect that we could start seeing hardware supporting USB 4 starting in the second half of 2020, but I wouldn’t hold my breathe. Especially if you’re looking at any hardware that is not a desktop or laptop PC.
Let’s talk about smartphones. The latest silicon from Qualcomm does not even support USB 3.2 yet, which is the current standard. So it would be very, very surprising to see the Snapdragon 865 or even Snapdragon 875 support USB 4 next year or even in 2021.
The adoption rate of USB 3.2 has been very slow. It was announced back in September of 2017, and there are still only a handful of devices that support it. So it’s not too crazy to expect the same for USB 4, unfortunately.
While those faster transfer and charging speeds are going to be great, we unfortunately won’t see them anytime soon.