The difference between Micro USB and USB type C 

Major smartphone brands are making the quantum leap from the ubiquitous Micro USB, an industry standard now for many years, to the much newer USB type C ports. Confused much? Let’s put it this way; a Type B micro USB port is probably what you use on your phone right now. The easiest way to tell is that the USB cable plugs in one way and if you are not paying attention, odds are you will plug it in the wrong way every once in a while. So, what is USB type C?

USB type C has built upon the original USB technology, amping it up a notch. For starters, USB type C cables are reversible; any way you plug in is the right way. There are more underlying differences between micro USB and USB type C we will look into later.

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Before we continue, let’s explain a bit about the the whole USB standard. Universal Serial Bus (USB) was developed in 1994 by a bunch of companies as a way to unify connection cables between devices, capable of transferring both data and also charge. Various generations of USB comprise USB 1.0 (and later 1.1), USB 2.0 (most widely used today), USB 3.0 and currently USB 3.1 (which ports are usually a bright blue). USB 3.1 processes data at speeds of up to 10 Gbps compared to USB 3.0 at 5 Gbps. The popular USB 2.0 clocks in at 480 Mbps, an improvement from the 12 Mbps throughput of USB 1.0. This ought not to be confused with Standard types A, B, and the newest C. These are physical attributes you can see with the naked eye. These standards tend to be backwards compatible (you will need a special adapter for type C).


Related post: USB 3.2 is out with transfer speeds of upto 20Gbps, twice as fast as its predicessor


Micro USB

USB 2.0 Type A to USB micro [Image credit cablesdirect.co.uk]


Related: Thunderbolt 3 vs USB Type-C: The spot-on difference


Type A standard is that rectangular-shaped USB end that connects to a laptop/charger head/printer etc. The other end is the type B micro USB. Apart from the newer crop of smartphones, most devices use a 2.0 micro USB. This connector can only go in one way and has two hooks at the bottom to hold the cable in place. micro USB became the industry standard and soon replaced the various type B connectors i.e Nokia and Samsung’s proprietary connectors of yonder year. Naturally the iPhone has it’s own cables but let’s not go there. As we said, micro USB usually comes in 2.0 variant but the likes of Samsung have shipped the devices with a more modern 3.0 micro USB although that’s a rarity.

USB type C

belkin-usb-type-c-840x428

USB 2.0 Type A to USB type C cable [Image Credit: AndroidAuthority.com

At first blush , type C looks slightly bigger than micro USB. Owing to its oblong reversible shape, you can plug it in whichever way without worrying about which side is up. This standard takes advantage of USB 3.1 and 3.0 data transfer speeds and a higher throughput capability to ensure a fast charge along with transfer rates from 5Gbps to 10Gbps. It can deliver up to 100W of power, enough to charge a laptop and other such devices. (Apple already uses this standard on their Macbooks).That said, you will probably come across USB 2.0 type C cables more often than not, especially for smartphone devices which don’t much require the extra oomph!


Related post: How to charge your USB-C smartphone using a Micro-USB charger


USB type C is designed to be a one-size-fits-all able to replace connector cables in smartphones, game controllers, HDMI, cameras, laptops, printers, scanners, and whatever gadgetry you can think of. As Apple has shown to our chagrin, type C is gearing to replace type A ports (along with micro USB cables) with double-ended connector cables.Whereas micro USB is limited by design, USB type C has the potential to replace most of the current peripherals in use today.


Related post: USB 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 4.0 and Thunderbolt specs and feature comparison