First renders of the reversible USB 3.1 cable leak

We’ve become accustomed to knowing one end of a USB cable has to go into a computer or charger, and the other end goes into your phone, but there is a future where you can use either end in either thingie, and this is what that utopian paradise looks like. The USB Implementers Forum is showing off two USB 3.1 connector standards today.

Type-C shows off a design similar to the microUSB format we all know and love, except it’s the same at both ends, and there’s no set top or bottom for those plugs. This reversible tip is a feature Apple’s been getting an early lead with using their Lightning connector, though the more direct comparison would be Apple’s Thunderbolt. The Micro-B cable shows a slightly wider mobile connector we’ve already seen cropping up in devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Why do we need a new USB standard? Well, increased data speeds for one. We’re talking 10 Gbps, versus the 5 Gbps available on USB 3.0. Two, you can expect faster charging times. We’ll be getting between 3 A and 5 A of current, up from 1.5 A. All of these new USB plugs will need an adapter to be backwards compatible with the 3.0 products in market, so no need to worry about things getting too wonky with your existing hardware. In any case, it’ll be cool to start seeing micro-sized plugs built into PCs and chargers.

USB 3.1 port render


Reader comments

First renders of the reversible USB 3.1 cable released


I was hoping it would be more like Apple's lightning connector, with a straight male plug to female port.

Looks like we're still going to have that thin, breakable strip inside the female port. :/

A connector like the surface tablet would work too. Something that when pulled disconnects without damaging the device or cord.

Not really obvious, no. A lot of people complain about things they heard someone else complain about who heard it from someone else. If I remember correctly, studies showed roughly 70% of the people who were surveyed about hating Windows Vista had never actually used it. They just knew it sucked because everyone else knew it sucked.

Anyway, I'm really curious to hear how that happened. The physical design actually makes that rather hard.

I used to have to pry the piece forward on my Galaxy Nexus because it would get pushed back and wouldn't connect while charging, and after doing that several times, it's super loose and about to break off at any time. Luckily I have another phone now, but this wouldn't be an issue if the connector was more like Lightning.

I've had broken ones. Niece had a broken USB port in a laptop and to repair it they wanted to change the whole motherboard. Usually occurs when someone try's to plug in the USB plug in upside down which puts stress on the blade. Also when plastic gets old it becomes brittle and more easily broken.

Well, luckily the first of those two causes will no longer be an issue.

I think the demand for a Lightning-style port is unreasonable simply from a cost perspective. Apple builds a much higher standard into the costs of their ports and cables because they can. They're proprietary and people pay extra for their name, plus their high level of sourcing allows for it. USB 3.1 is built for the masses, and has to include room for cheaper parts, like it or not. I'm pretty certain it's not hard for manufacturers to simply use higher-quality materials to help prevent these concerns.

3 or 5A? Wouldn't that caused a phone to overheat? My wife's Note 3 gets pretty hot on a charger. My HTC One stays cool but takes foresver to charge.

Your phone will take whatever it asks for. Current devices frequently draw far less than 1.5A. Just because it's capable of it doesn't mean it'll use it. Just like your phone doesn't overheat when it's plugged into the wall which puts out a heck of a lot more than 1.5A.

My point was that if a source being able to output a high amount of power would overheat the device it was plugged into, nothing we own would work, since nearly everything we use requires less power than a wall jack outputs.

I definitely do NOT want magnets. I want a solid, secure, strong connection, as this port is replacing ALL USB ports. That means more than just charging your phone. It's for connecting your keyboard and mouse, your scanner, your printer, your hub, your flash drives, etc., etc., etc. An easily-disconnected-while-bumped port is NOT an acceptable replacement.

Today's high end magnet connectors are very strong. I suggest you check one out because it sounds like you're basing your opinion off something someone else told ya ;)
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Nope, I'm basing it directly off of reality. I've used magnetic connectors, including and especially the ones Apple uses. Their benefit is their ability to quick-disconnect, NOT their ability to maintain a strong connection. NOT a good technology for solid, stable, vital plugs. Fine for a power source to an item that has a battery in it that can survive without it for a few seconds when accidentally pulled. I'm aware of the ones in the Surface, for instance, which yes, are great for being able to hang by them, but can easily be yanked off if pulled the right/wrong way. That's not good for a vital connection. Besides, we haven't exactly moved entirely past electronics devices that rely on magnets for other needs. While the average joe's computer may be shifting toward SSD and such, we're talking about a robust connection standard that will be used across the industry and every type of component possible, and some of those will not react well to a magnet as strong as the one you're suggesting. Heck, that magnet alone will make the magnetometer inside your phone worthless.

What I need is a quality charging port that doesn't fall apart after six months.

Galaxy Tab 10.1 2014 edition barely charges, not only does it take all night, the mini USB port only charges on one weird position. Any tiny movement knocks the connections loose. Mind you, it is not physically loose, just no electrical connection.

Htc One, too, is looser than a 20 dollar hooker in Moscow. I have to find the sweet spot and keep it that way to charge it. My third one ONE.

THE ONLY solution is a 6 year old BlackBerry cable, which for some reason still is able to charge both the tablet and the phone.

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Maybe, maybe not, I have four different cables, long and short. Like I said, the blackberry cable works the best, as it seems to have a high quality male plug.

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You probably got a little bit of lint in the micro USB port. Happens to me too. You can clean it out with a finely sanded toothpick. You might be surprised at how much lint you can scrape out of one of those little ports