They're not expensive, but it would be a good idea for more companies to bundle this USB Type-C adapter in the box.
I received the new ZTE Axon 7 in the mail yesterday, and promptly unboxed it. (You can watch it over on our Facebook page if you haven't already.) The phone itself is a known quantity: powerful, sleek, and unlocked, all for $399. We'll have a review up shortly.
Inside the box, though, is something I didn't expect to be as useful as it has proven over the past 24 hours: a USB Type-C to Micro-USB adapter, which makes it easy to use all of those legacy cables I have configured around my house.
The truth is that everyone has a million Micro-USB cables lying around, and likely only a few Type-C cables. As the industry transitions to the new standard — which is considerably better, being reversible and capable of more current at the same voltage — there's going to be an extended period where some devices, particularly less expensive ones, will still ship with the older version. Even Samsung, the world's biggest Android manufacturer, has resisted adopting USB Type-C in its main devices to maintain compatibility with its Gear VR headset and other first-party accessories (though that is expected to change with the Galaxy Note 7).
The truth is that everyone has a million Micro-USB cables lying around
Sure, an adapter is easy to lose, and is certainly a bridge to a future where something so disposable is unnecessary, but in the meantime more companies should think about including one. We know that Motorola has decided to include an admittedly more useful USB Type-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter in every Moto Z and Moto Z Force box, but ZTE gets bonus points for thinking about how its customers use smartphones today, not just how they will in the future.
There are a couple things to note about these adapters:
- Most of them are USB 2.0-only, which means that even if the USB Type-C device you're connecting to supports USB 3.1, speeds will be limited to 480Mbit/s. Some adapters do support USB 3.0 (which isn't quite as fast as USB 3.1) — you just have to know what you're buying.
- Some of these adapters include a 56kΩ resistor, which limits the amount of current through the cable if it terminates in a USB Type-A (the larger connector that usually plugs into a laptop or AC adapter). These shouldn't be necessary if you're using a high-quality cable with its own 56kΩ resistor built in, but it's there for added protection.
- If your phone supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge spec, this adapter should work just fine — it did when connecting the Axon 7 to a Quick Charge 2.0-compatible Motorola Turbo Charger — as it merely works as a passthrough.
- I know I'm going to lose this thing, so maybe, if you do decide to buy one, get a two or three-pack.
- USB Type-C is reversible, but Micro-USB isn't. Make sure that when you insert the adapter, you know which direction the Micro-USB end is facing, so that you don't break the cable, or the adapter, putting it in backwards.
There you go: not much to this thing, but I'm going to use the heck out of it all the same.
If you're looking for one (or set of three), Amazon has a whole bunch of them from well-known accessory makers like Aukey, Goliath, and Unitek.
Do you think you'd have use for one of these adapters? Let us know in the comments!