USB Type-C only appeared on the scene a few years ago, but it has already become almost ubiquitous on phones, tablets, laptops, and more. The EU is even considering making USB-C a requirement on a huge swath of consumer electronics. However, just because you see the distinctive oval-shaped USB-C plug on a device does not mean it automatically supports high-speed data or fast charging. The non-profit USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has sought to address that with optional logos, and there are more of them today that might help you identify the latest USB cables. Emphasis on “might.”
Until recently, USB-C cables maxed out at 100W, but the USB-C 2.1 and USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) 3.1 standards boosted that to a whopping 240W. Likewise, USB 4 has started appearing recently with support for up to 40Gbps, up from 10Gbps on older cables. You probably don’t have any devices that can utilize the newest tech, but you will eventually. When the time comes, how are you supposed to know which cables are which? That’s where the new logos come in.
The new logos are not attractive, but they are informative. Cables that support USB 4 will have a 40Gbps stamp someplace, and those that can go up to the new maximum 240W will have that. If it’s both, the cable will have an equally unimaginative combo logo. The styling will vary depending on whether it’s on the package or the cable itself. There’s also a 240W logo for charger bricks. There will also be new cables rated for 60W, and there will be special logos for them. The USB-IF hasn’t created that one yet.
The USB-IF uses a light touch to guide USB. Manufacturers don’t have to use these logos, and in all honesty, it wasn’t strictly necessary to look for the logos for previous-gen cables. After some early missteps, it’s rare to find USB-C cables that don’t work correctly. However, 240W is a lot of power. Maybe certification isn’t a big deal if you’re going to push 3A and 5V through it, but the new peak of 5A and 48V is serious business. Making sure that cable has been looked over by the USB-IF is a good idea. However, the reality is that making these marks optional means most manufacturers won’t bother. It’ll probably also take time before you see any cables with these logos.
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