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USB-C is one of the best things to have happened to consumer tech. It’s the universal port (barring the iPhone, for now) for almost all major devices, including laptops and Android phones. And now an abundance of accessories makes the most of the standard to speed up data transfer and charge your gadgets faster.
Even Apple, which for years favored its competing Lightning connector, is building USB-C into future iPhones, not just iPads and Macs. That’s great, because more USB-C devices means more USB-C charging ports everywhere, so you’re less likely to be stuck with a drained battery in an airport, office or friend’s car.
Accessories unlock USB-C’s potential. USB docks and hubs multiply the abilities of a single USB-C port on your laptop or tablet. Multiport chargers are great for people with lots of devices to charge, and they’re getting smaller and lighter thanks to efficient new electronics built with gallium nitride components. And now USB-C is increasingly useful as a video port to connect external monitors.
First, though, a little explanation, because USB standards can be confusing. USB-C is the physical connection. It’s the oval port and the reversible cables that now are commonplace on laptops and Android phones. The main USB standard is currently at USB 4.0. This governs the data connections between devices, for example plugging a backup drive into your PC. USB Power Delivery governs how devices cooperate for charging and is newly upgraded to reach powerful 240-watt levels.
USB-C is good for replacing both the original rectangular USB-A ports that first arrived on 1990s PCs to connect printers and mice and the small, trapezoidal ports that caught on for phone charging, called USB Micro B.