USB, simplified: standards body ditches SuperSpeed branding in favour of simpler logos
The authority on USB specifications has made its next move towards simplifying confusing profiles, speeds, and power ratings for USB cables, ports, and chargers.
As of 1 October 2022, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) organisation is updating its SuperSpeed USB branding into a more straightforward format that’s easier for nearly anyone to understand. Part of the rebrand also ditches old naming conventions like “USB 3” or “USB 4”.
USB ports, chargers, and cables will now instead carry its data transfer speeds and wattage, with new logos by the USB standards organisation to reflect the change.
Instead of getting a mouthful like “USB4 Version 2.0” (yes, that’s an actual name), it is now “USB 80Gbps”. Stuff like “USB 3.2 Gen 1” (which is increasingly common on premium-tier smartphones) would simply be “USB 5Gbps”, and so on. Basically, data transfer speeds are the new name of the USB game.
For reversible Type-C USB cables, the new name needs to carry its charging wattage (per the image’s example above). So, a USB-C cable that can charge devices and transfer data would look something like “USB 20Gbps 240W”. But, of course, a spec like that tells you about the cable’s maximum speeds, while real-world use is still subjected to your device’s maximum input, or charging point’s output options.
USB chargers can also attain similar certification, with a simplified logo now stating what’s supported on the charging adapter. A 100W USB charger would simply be “USB Fast Charger 100W”. This isn’t as mysterious as cables since most legitimate chargers today would state their charging profiles and wattage combos in Volt/Ampere format (V * A = W).
These simplified branding and logos are port-agnostic. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old-school Type-A port, a MicroUSB, or Type-C. It helps that USB-C cables are typically the ones that can handle high transfer speeds (10Gbps and more) and power (above 5W), and older types of USB ports are increasingly uncommon these days.
Older USB 2.0 unaffected by change
USB 1.0 and 2.0 are not affected by this branding change. But, if you see a USB 2.0 port, you’d also know it can only give you 480Mbps, so there’s no need to fret if you’re not shopping for cables or chargers that need a lot more data transfer speed or wattage power.
I make products that use USB. How to get USB-IF certification?
While these standards are open-source and free-for-all to use, manufacturers will need to complete a USB-IF certification on a per-product basis, on top of signing a logo license agreement to use these branding and logos on their products.
While that’s not going to stop your pasar malam (night market) USB cables and chargers from proliferating, it would at least help serious USB buyers have an easier time getting the right cable for their many gadgets and accessories. We’ll be blunt: your USB portable fan or cutesy waterproof personal speakers may not need these new designations, but it matters if you’re getting cables and chargers for high-end workstations, laptops, action cameras, and even mobile phones.
Buying guide for USB products
These freshly-announced changes to USB branding will take a while before they start populating the market, so you’d still have to rely on old branding and logos for a while.
However, if you’re shopping for the right USB cable, charger, or checking a device’s port specs, you might want to stop by our USB port buying guide first.
Source: USB-IF via The Verge