USB Charger Cord Quality Explained

Device Charging Past and Present

USB Charger CordIt wasn’t that long ago that every device had a different charger cord. I remember when I lost my camera cord, it was a big deal. No one I knew had a similar cord and if I wanted to charge it or transfer the photos, the only thing to do what to contact the manufacture and get an identical new cord.

Thankfully, this is no longer the case. Power connectors are standardized and you can find the same cords at any and all homes you’ll go to. More so, all your gadgets share a standardized connector. Digital cameras can connect to the TV or computer, even the printer directly sometimes. Cell phones can be connected to computers both for data sharing and for charging purpose. And all that required the same cord type! No need to keep tabs on numerous cable types and figure out which goes with what device. What a relief.

USB Charger Cord Types

Now that all those devices share a USB charger cord, it is easy to connect two devices to each other to share data or charge a device.  Though connectors have been standardized, it is important to know that not all USB cables, connectors and chargers are made equal. The most evident difference between them is the speed in which each cable charges the device connected to it. Since they are visually similar, lets discuss the different USB specifications and how they differ.

The market currently has four USB specifications, including USB 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 3.1, not including the new USB-C connector. USB 3.0 is the most commonly used cord to date. A USB network includes one host and one device. Typically, the computer is the host and the smartphone/tablet/etc. are the device. In this network power flows from the host to the device, while data can transfer both ways (for example, pictures can be transferred from the computer to the phone or the other way around).

Specification differences

Construction: USB 1.0 & 2.0 have four pin – four wires construction. Data is carried by the inside pins, while a 5 volt power supply is provided by the outside pins. USB 3.0 ports include an additional row of five pins, and a total of nine wires.

Current: The three types of USB current specs include a standard downstream port, a charging downstream port, and a dedicated charging port. The first two are found on computers, while the third speaks to the wall charger. USB 1.0 & 2.0 standard downstream port delivers up to 500mA (milliamps), USB 3.0 delivers up to 900mA. USB 3.1 bumps up the throughput to 10Gbps (referred to as SuperSpeed+ mode).

The Sleep and Charge USB spec allows the USB ports on a powered down computer to stay active. In other words, you can charge your smartphone using a powered down computer.

In Reality

While these are the different USB specifications, your cord may not conform to them. A USB charger cord may promise one thing, but deliver a different one. With the vast difference in quality, knowing the differences can help you make educated purchases.

With all that said, the standardization of the USB Charger Cord has made it dramatically easier to charge our various gadgets. With time and new developments we may see an even simpler approach to power and charging, whether with a USB charger cord or new technologies.