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Let's talk about the Samsung Galaxy S7 and its micro-USB port

The recent leakage of apparent press renders of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, along with corresponding hardware specs, have given us plenty to think about. Sure enough, the physical design of these two closely resembles what we've seen out of Samsung for the past 12 months. And for the first time it seems we're getting new Samsung flagships in two screen sizes — and with significantly larger batteries to address one of the GS6's biggest pain points.

However there's one hugely important detail hidden away in the bottom right corner of these Galaxy S7 renders. The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are pictured with what appears to be a plain old micro-USB port, as opposed to the newer USB Type-C connector.

USB C cable

USB Type-C is the future of connecting stuff to other stuff.

That's a big deal because the reversible Type-C port is what's next. When all mobile devices and other computers eventually adopt the USB 3.1 standard — with the faster data speeds and quicker charging that entails — Type-C will be the port that enables it. We've already seen Type-C connectors in a few Android phones in recent months, most notably in forward-looking devices like Google's 2015 Nexus phones and the OnePlus 2, as well as in the Nextbit Robin. It's also used in Apple's new MacBook, Google's second-generation Chromebook Pixel and the Pixel C tablet.

Simply put, USB Type-C is the future of connecting stuff to other stuff. But it's going to be a painful, annoying transition — and that's just one of many reasons why Samsung may have decided to stick with a tried-and-true micro-USB connector in the GS7.

Let's play devil's advocate for a moment. Sure, USB Type-C is technically superior and less frustrating to plug in, as anyone who's fumbled around with the wrong end of a USB cable will appreciate. The reality of Type-C and USB 3.1 is muddy and nuanced, however. Just because something uses USB Type-C doesn't mean it's also USB 3.1.

None of the Android phones currently using the new connector really take full advantage of it.

This is why none of the Android phones currently using Type-C really take full advantage of the new connector — the OnePlus 2, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P all use Type-C, but with USB 2.0. The only real benefits are the more convenient reversible cable, and faster charging without the need to license Qualcomm QuickCharge. (The 5X and 6P both charge at up to 5V/3A with the bundled power brick.)

MORE: What is USB Type-C?

It's probable we'll see Android phones that do feature USB 3.1 in 2016, but there's no guarantee that any of the Galaxy S7's immediate competitors will be among them. And in any case, the argument in favor of faster wired data transfers to a smartphone is weakened by the fact that many of us now use the cloud, not a USB cable, to get stuff on and off of our phones.

As for faster charging, Samsung already has this through its Adaptive Fast Charge capability, which is its re-badged version of Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0. So from a purely practical point of view, Samsung isn't really missing out.

There are a lot of incentives for Samsung to stick with micro-USB — at least in the short term.

That being the case, let's look at the potential disadvantages of a fast switch to USB Type-C for the company.

The first hurdle is potential confusion from Galaxy S 3, 4, 5 and 6 upgraders who find that none of their existing cables work with their new phone. Most normal consumers aren't even aware of this new, slightly different kind of USB port. And if people will put their S Pens in the wrong way around, you can bet some of them will break a Type-C port trying to jam a micro-USB cable in there. Delaying the move to USB Type-C allows Samsung to wait for public awareness of it to grow, avoiding a wave of customer support calls in the process.

Micro-USB isn't going away anytime soon.

Samsung also has a diverse accessory ecosystem built around micro-USB, including GS6-targeted add-ons like the first-party fast charging battery and wireless chargers. It certainly wouldn't hurt to maintain accessory compatibility between the GS7 and its immediate predecessors. (As much as Samsung would probably like to sell you a bunch of new accessories as well.)

Another big consideration is Gear VR — the current version of the headset was released just two months ago with an internal micro-USB connector. A new Gear VR for a new Samsung phone wouldn't be unprecedented, but it would be a little weird for yet another SKU to launch so soon after the last one. (But that's also assuming that new phones would fit in the current Gear VR.)

Or maybe it's just not economical to switch yet. It might be as simple as a matter of money.

Again, Samsung will have to deal with the many annoyances of the jump to a new USB connector eventually, but delaying this push for a year or so means competitors will instead bear the brunt of inevitable Type-C teething issues.

Micro-USB itself isn't going away anytime soon, even after high-end phones make the switch to Type-C. Gadgets like wireless headphones, mice, keyboards, wearable gadget docks, digital cameras and storage devices all use this connector. It's going to take a long, long time — maybe a decade or more — for micro-USB's presence to start to fade.

USB Type-C is better, and it's what's next. The eventual move over to this new standard is as inevitable as the confusion that'll go along with it. In the meantime, maybe it's not such a big deal if Samsung's not chomping at the bit to bring the new port to its high-end smartphones.

What do you think of the possibility of Samsung skipping USB Type-C in the Galaxy S7? Shout out in the comments!

Alex Dobie
Executive Editor

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.

  • Nice defense but I think it's a huge mistake. Most normal people will have the S7 until like Jan 2019 or longer. MicroUSB is dying. Samsung still using it on a 2016 flagship is not a good idea. Posted via the Android Central App
  • My new Microsoft 950XL and Continuum Dock came with enough type C cables that I can carry a spare to plug in if needed.
    Now I have to carry 2 cables as my BT devices use micro USB.
    If your new device comes with enough cables, it won't matter that your old ones won't work.
    Since when does an OEM like Samsung care that you need all new accessories? Isn't this where they earn a large amount of money, making you buy their OEM products?
  • A huge mistake? Lets not get crazy its a charging cable and love they stayed with micro usb
  • No. This. is. Spartaaa! I mean huge! Like earth shattering, end of days, HUGE!
  • Spartaa??? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Are USB C ports more robust than micro-USB's? The worst hardware problems I've had with phones had to do with micro-USB ports that either stopped working or worked intermittently. My Nexus 4's port works most of the time, but about once a week, it gets into a mode where it can't decide whether it's charging or not and runs down the battery putting up and taking down the 'charging' notification.
  • Absolutely. They have a satisfying click when inserted and it doesn't matter what direction you insert it. Its far superior than the micro USB design. But oh well. Check back in 2023 I guess. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Absoltely not, keep in your mind that now what fails are the cables, because of the weak moving parts, now with USB-Type C them are on the phone, so like before you used to draft your cables, start drafting your phones. Don't think so? Ask to someone with Lighting or old MiniUSB, or ask yourself why its becoming harder and harder to fix anithing on your phone or just to change a battery....
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • for me, this is a BIG selling point. I dont need a new charger just to have the latest and greatest.... i can figure out how to plug in a USB the right way and dont need a reversible plug, its not rocket science. And, with quick charge, i have never ever one time said "gee i wish my phone charged faster"... and last but not least, i have a millions of cables and chargers already, why would i want to buy new ones. Personally, i say THANK YOU SAMSUNG for not being like others and just changing for changes sake of change when there really is no benefit except to the idiots that cant figure out how to plug in their regular usb cables,
  • future-proofing?
    The other things are nice. Quick charge is something I really like, and you have to realize that most of America probably can't figure out the right way to plug in a micro-usb.
    Plus, as Jen said, USB-C is the way of the future. I really do see it that way.
  • Your right, most of America can't figure out a lot of things, like what a real President is, there are a lot of things Americans can't figure out. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Oh don't get me started on terrible presidential candidates. At least some of the Republican candidates look good, though the front runners are still a bit extreme...
  • You need to figure out spelling and grammar.
  • Umm....wrong!!! A phone can always, always charge faster, so I welcome QuickCharge 3.0 and beyond. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have tons of cables as well, micro, mini, normal. The thing about going to type C is I dont need all of them anymore., and I gain a massive benefit from the new cable. This is not changing just for the sames of changing, there are massive benefits to the new cable, besides just the reversible cables.
  • MicroUSB is dying in the way that all standards are eventually going to "die". But to say you won't be able to get microUSB accessories in 2019 is pretty crazy. These things take a lot longer to move on than you'd think. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm aware. I didn't say you wouldn't be able to buy MicroUSB cables in 2019. You can still buy 15 pin Apple cables. On well. Its clear we will hang on to MicroUSB for another decade. That's cool. I just think wide scale adoption by having someone as large as Samsung on board with USB-C is for the better. Apparently I'm wrong. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not wrong. You just clearly don't remember how long adoption of the previous USB standards took. Heck there's still new devices that don't support USB 3.
  • I didn't realize that usb 3.0 is 8 years old....
  • What? From mini-usb to micro-usb? It didn't seem like it took long, can't say an exact amount of time, but it didn't seem long. Posted via the Android Central App