USB Types: Various Types of USB Cables (A, B and C) and Their Differences

Based on the physical design of the connectors and ports, there are three different types of USB cables: USB Type A, USB Type B and USB Type C. Based on the functionality of the USB connectors, there are also two different versions of USB: USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.

Smartphones, tablets, music players, laptops… you name it, and chances are that a number, if not all, of these devices, will be in your home. All of these devices have their own purpose, and therefore each one works in its own way. But what do all these devices have in common in one form or another?

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USB Cables

USB or Universal Serial Bus cables are ubiquitous in our plug-in world. Their demand is so high that every year, tens of millions of USB cables are shipped around the world every year, and with good reason, considering that almost every electronic device requires a special component, a USB cable, that allows it to connect to a variety of other electronic devices.

The same trend of technological updating can be seen with USB cables, but with so many versions and types of USB standards, it is increasingly confusing to keep track of which USB standard has which features. To illustrate all this, let’s take a look at some of the basics.

USB Types

The various versions of USB cables, such as USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, deal with the functionality and speed of the USB cable, whereas the type of USB cable (like USB type A, USB type B essentially refers to the physical design of the connectors and ports.

Further information about USB versions can be found in this table:


Port and Receptor

Before we try to understand the differences between types A and B, we first explain the definitions of a host, a receptor and a port.

The slot where one end of the USB cable is connected to the computer (or any other host device, like a smartphone) is called the port. The electronic device you want to charge or transfer data to (say, your smartphone or tablet) is the receiver.

usb types

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USB Type A

The most popular type of USB standard is Type A, which you can see at one end (the end that goes inside the slot of the host device) of almost every USB cable nowadays. Typical type A ports are most likely found in host devices such as desktop computers, game consoles and media players.

USB Type B

Type-B connectors are at the other end of a typical USB cable that plugs into a peripheral device, such as a smartphone, a printer or a hard drive.

USB Type C

USB Type-C (referred to as Type-C, hereafter) made headlines of tech periodicals around the world when a variant of Apple’s 12-inch Macbook was launched. It was the first notebook to incorporate Type-C in its design.


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Reverse plug functionality

Physically, Type-C is very similar to the existing Micro-B USB variant, measuring 8.4 mm by 2.6 mm, and due to its small size, it easily fits into the smallest peripherals we use today.

One of the many advantages of Type-C over other existing variants is that it allows “reverse plug orientation,” which basically means that you can always plug in your USB cable correctly on the first try! Its plug is made in such a way that you can plug it into the slot without worrying that it is upside down.

Technical Data of USB Type C

Type-C supports USB 3.1 and offers a maximum speed of 10 Gbit/s for data transmission. It also has a significantly higher power output of up to 20 Volts 100 W and 5 amps.

It should be noted that normal laptops usually have power consumption in the range of 40-70 watts, which means that Type-C easily covers their power requirements.

USB Types: Various Types of USB Cables (A, B and C) and Their Differences

Credit: Yuriy Vlasenko/Shutterstock

Another functionality that Type-C offers is the bi-directional power supply; in other words, you can charge your smartphone not only from your laptop but vice versa!

Type-C has received rave reviews from users around the world, and can now be seen in many electronic devices, including the Chromebook Pixel, 1 + 2 and Nexus 6P smartphones and the Nokia N1 tablet.

It is almost certain that in the years to come, every electronic device will support Type-C. Think of how easy and convenient it will be to use electronic devices; all you need is a single Type-C cable to finally get rid of the tangle of cables that are tucked away in your desk drawer!

How about answering a few questions about USBs?

Can you answer three questions based on the article you just read?

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About the Author

Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spearheads the content and editorial wing of ScienceABC and manages its official Youtube channel. He’s a Harry Potter fan and tries, in vain, to use spells and charms (Accio! [insert object name]) in real life to get things done. He totally gets why JRR Tolkien would create, from scratch, a language spoken by elves, and tries to bring the same passion in everything he does. A big admirer of Richard Feynman and Nikola Tesla, he obsesses over how thoroughly science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

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