USB-C cables get confusing new logos for faster 240W charging standard
The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) – the group that maintains the USB standard in its many and varied incarnations – has introduced new official logos that businesses can use to mark their USB-C cables and packaging in accordance with its USB4 and 240W power standards. The goal is lofty, aimed at helping alleviate confusion over the different types of USB-C cables (which can differ dramatically in things like charging and data transfer speeds) when you buy one.
Understandably, USB-IF, in its … unique wisdom, has chosen to simplify matters the only way it knows: a slew of new logos that will soon adorn cable and charger packaging to help indicate What customers charge and data makes it easier to support their devices. Because nothing says “simple” like an array of seven new logos for load and data specifications.
The new branding is said to tie into the recent USB Power Delivery (USB PD) 3.1 specification that was announced earlier this year, which (confusingly) is part of the USB Type-C Release 2.1 specification, and features devices that can charge with up to 240W of power – assuming you have the right cable and charger. Given that the aforementioned mess of numbers and specs is an even less user-friendly nightmare, the new logos (which clearly indicate the maximum supported speed and charging of a USB4 certified device) are certainly better than nothing.
But the new logos also help show how confusing the USB-C standard still is. There are separate logos to support data transfer speeds of 40 Gbps, as well as slower speeds of 20 Gbps, and two levels of power specification: 240W and 60W. Even more infuriating is that the standards are unrelated: you can get a cable that supports 40 Gbps data transfers but slower charging. You might get a 240W fast charging cable which is bad for transferring files. You can get both (with the USB-IF offering a combined logo to indicate when the hardware supports both fast charging and data speeds), but it’s still the manufacturers responsibility to actually use the brand and customers to understand everything.
Compared to the more expensive but simpler Thunderbolt 4, which has only one type of cable that all things in the spec – and it’s hard not to feel like the rest of the USB-C world is still a bit of a mess. This is in part due to how quickly USB-C standards have changed over the past few years, as technology has improved, hardware has improved, and devices need a plug. support faster data and charging. But there’s still a long way to go before USB-C reaches its plug-and-play potential, if it ever does.