Editorial: Manufacturers, it's time to put more USB-C ports on chargers

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 16
USB-C has continued to become more ubiquitous as more users adopt the small, reversible port. While all of our accessories are supporting it, chargers are lagging behind. Manufacturers -- it is time to finally create chargers with more than a single USB-C port.

Zendure SuperPort and SuperTank
Zendure SuperPort and SuperTank have USB-C and USB-A ports


Even if you don't have all your devices switched to USB-C yet, you are surely familiar with the new specification. USB-C is the connector type replacing the aging USB-A port. It is reversible and smaller than type-A ports and it supports faster speeds. USB-C cables that use the USB 3.1 Gen 2 protocol can handle up to 10Gb per second at full duplex.

Apple saw the usefulness of USB-C and made all new portable Macs utilize the cable exclusively, ditching USB-A, DisplayPort, and MagSafe in the process. The new iPad Pro also uses type-C.

Kanex GoPower USB-C chargers
Kanex GoPower USB-C chargers


Other accessory makers in the past few years have started to release products using USB-C at a faster rate. Dashcams like Owl use USB-C, as do recent GoPros, the Nikon Z range of cameras, air purifiers like Wynd, and headphones such as the Master & Dynamic ANC over head cans.

The point is, with so much of our gear now relying on the updated port design, why are we limited to chargers that only support one or maybe two USB-C ports max?

It isn't a technical limitation in any way. Chelsea Liu, Zendure Product and Marketing Director told us that "there is no technical difficulty to make full USB-C charger. We just consider to cover future market and existing customers. Not all the electronics accessories have applied USB-C ports. Some of them are still using Micro-USB ports. So it's hard for them to find a USB-C to micro-USB cable to charge devices while USB-A cable has wider compatibility."

When AppleInsider reached out to several accessory makers, the main hangup that we were quoted was that USB-C PD takes too much power for more than two ports to be included on a charger at once. However, that doesn't need to be the case.

USB-C PD -- the PD stands for Power Delivery -- is a dynamic charging technology that can handle up to 100 watts with specific cables and chargers. This is the kind of charger need to power up Apple's latest Macs that use 60W or up to 87W of power draw.

Satechi 75W Dual USB-C multi-charger
Satechi 75W Dual USB-C multi-charger


What manufacturers seem to be trying to do is keep things simple by making all USB-C ports on their chargers support Power Delivery. Take the Satechi 75W Dual USB-C multi-charger. It sports two USB-C ports, with the top handling 60W output and the second handling 18W. The 60W is great for a Mac while the latter for an iPad Pro.

Then there are two legacy USB-A ports that charge at much lower speeds, usually five or seven watts. These ports are the ones that we wish would be swapped for low-power USB-C ports.

Zendure SuperPort has a 100W USB-C Port, an 18W USB-C Port, and two USB-A ports
Zendure SuperPort has a 100W USB-C Port, an 18W USB-C Port, and two USB-A ports


The same can be said for the absolutely exceptional Zendure SuperTank and SuperPort battery and multi-charger we reviewed, though it can handle up to 100W over USB-C.

In our ideal world, we'd have a four-port multi-charger with all USB-C. Two that support USB-C PD at fast speeds for power hungry gear such as Macs or iPads, and two slower ports for headphones, fitness accessories, etc.

Take my standard setup for example. Admittedly, I often truck around with more gear than the average consumer, but I don't think my setup is all that odd.

When I head out, I take my MacBook Pro (or my iPad Pro), my iPhone, my Apple Watch, and a pair of headphones. Both my Mac and iPad Pro use USB-C to charge and with the newfound prevalence of USB-C Lightning cables I also use that to quick charge my iPhone and even my AirPods.

If I'm not taking my AirPods, I take my Master & Dynamic ANC headphones which came with a USB-C cable. I also use a USB-C Apple Watch charger because it can plug into my iPad or Mac.

Other gear that I travel with from time-to-time include my Nikon Z 7, my GoPro Hero 7, or my DJI Osmo, all of which use USB-C. The current option is to grab a bunch of USB-C to USB-A cables which is frustrating to bring along or to just charge two devices at once.

None of this is ideal, as manufacturers like to suggest.

Some have thrown the blame at Apple and the iPhone. "I know Android fans will be shouting at their monitors, but a general mentality in the industry is that until the iPhone commits to a technology, it is just not worth the R&D to really commit to that technology. The iPhone will likely remain lightning this year, but if the iPhone ships with a USB-C --> Lightning cable, game on, multiport USB-C chargers will be everywhere," said Brian Hahn, co-founder and Head of Product at Nomad.

Manufacturers have the ability to create all USB-C chargers without worrying about heat or power by just including slower ports that still put out the same amount of power as current chargers with both type A and C.

Just because the iPhone is still toting around a Lightning port isn't a sufficient excuse either as Apple and nearly all cable manufacturers have started shipping faster USB-C to Lightning cables that would easily benefit from this type of charger.

It is time for them to stop holding on to the legacy ports and embrace USB-C to push the industry forward and to finally allow early adopters and those with newer devices the ability to actually charge their gear the way they should be able to.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 71
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,149member
    Another major thing that prevents USB C adoption worldwide. It’s higher cost ,than type A. I personally prefer lightning & type a . Most Macs & WinTels in the wild are still type A. Only rich people have problems with type A & lightning. Carrying 1 extra type A cable isn’t much of an issue.
    TripleTroubleBigDannbaconstangwilliamlondonwaverboyflyingdpwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 71
    Hahahaha. 

    Whoever sold you on the lie of USB-C was doing you no favors. 

    Hold on while we run out and swap all the USB-A ports in everything. 
    baconstangwilliamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 71
    I just swapped out one of my 120v wall outlets that had two built in USB-A ports for one with two USB-C ports. I was worried about still needing to charge my USB-A devices but I realized they aren’t USB-A. They are micro USB and there are plenty of USB-C to micro USB cables on amazon. 
    hardly any of my devices use USB-A. They are mostly USB-A to micro USB or USB-B.

    you are correct that USB-A needs to die. USB-C is the future and those that have USB-A should realize the reality that their USB devices are on borrowed time. USB-C is now showing up in cars. Glad BMW is being proactive in this regard. They are including USB-C chargers in their new models in addition to Qi charging. 
    chiajdb8167StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 71
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,675member
    Hahahaha. 

    Whoever sold you on the lie of USB was doing you no favors. 

    Hold on while we run out and swap all the PS/2 ports in everything. 
    Fixed that for you.  You want to live in the early 2000's, go right ahead and get out of the way for the rest of us that haven't looked back.
    mazda 3smacxpressp-dogchiamacpluspluswilliamlondonmuthuk_vanalingamStrangeDaysfastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 71
    jdwjdw Posts: 775member
    Manufacturers aren't stupid.  What they do reflects what the consumer demand.  It's a fact that even now in July 2019 most computers and devices used worldwide still have USB-A.  It's a fact that cannot be denied.  And until the average consumer has ditched all those legacy USB-A devices, nothing will change.  When will they ditch all those devices?  Ha!  Most consumers will still have those devices 5 years hence.  I guarantee it.  And that's precisely why Apple's decision to remove all USB-A ports from notebook Macs a few years ago was rooted in shortsighted foolishness. They should have included both ports instead.  

    USB-A isn't the floppy drive of old. Consider well how long VHS stuck around even when new and superior tech came on the scene.  One must also realize that even though Apple has the market share in the mobile space, and therefore can influence most mobile users rapidly, it doesn't have a lock on traditional PCs, and most PCs are still offering USB-A.  Indeed, even Apple's own iMacs (thank goodness) include USB-A (and the beloved SD card slot too).

    Look, I know the benefits of USB-C.  But I also know that to reduce or eliminate dongles we still need USB-A.  We need both port types.  As such, chargers should come with plenty of USB-A and USB-C ports until such a day that consumers demand otherwise.  It should be consumer choice, not something forced upon us by manufacturers, not even Apple. Just because Apple has been successful in the past by forcing things on us doesn't mean such should be true with USB-A.  Apple seems to understand this as evidenced by the fact that even the iMac Pro has USB-A.  And although the USB-C users among us scream "Consumer choice, YES!  I want USB-C only!" the fact is their voices are still small among the enormous sea of USB-A users out there.  It's just a fact.  USB-A is everywhere.  USB-C isn't quite there yet.
    BigDannbaconstangkestralracerhomie3williamlondonwaverboy
  • Reply 6 of 71
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,687member
    I can only speak for myself, but I only have one device which accepts USB-C power at the moment and that's the iPad Pro, so when I eventually buy a USB-C power supply for it, I'll be looking for a one port USB-C power supply, because it'll be priced less and I don't need any more ports for now.
    BigDannbaconstangchiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 71
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    USB-A is a worldwide, international standard. At some point it makes sense to change, but not at the moment. Adding extra ports to chargers will just make the chargers cost more. For the vast majority of consumers, USB-A is still the primary port they use. It makes absolutely no sense to cater to a small minority of primarily high-tech users, and make everyone else pay for it.
    MplsPBigDannbaconstangwilliamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 71
    flydogflydog Posts: 328member
    Hahahaha. 

    Whoever sold you on the lie of USB-C was doing you no favors. 

    Hold on while we run out and swap all the USB-A ports in everything. 
    Incredible that people perpetuate this nonsense.  
    radarthekatp-dogchiawilliamlondonStrangeDays
  • Reply 9 of 71
    What really needs to change is the universal power plug. I’d love to see more homes internationally switch to usb A...oh wait. 
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 10 of 71
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,556member
    flydog said:
    Hahahaha. 

    Whoever sold you on the lie of USB-C was doing you no favors. 

    Hold on while we run out and swap all the USB-A ports in everything. 
    Incredible that people perpetuate this nonsense.  
    Have you looked around? Pretty much every single car has a USB A plug. The airplane has a USB A plug. The Hotel has a USB A plug. The combination USB outlet I found at Home Depot is USB A. Virtually every wired mouse and keyboard made is USB A. The only place USB C is at all common is the Apple Store.

    USB A is the standard. It may change in the future, but it will take a long time. Apple putting USB C ports on its computers doesn't magically change the rest of the world. As someone mentioned above, though, except for high power devices like MacBooks, it really doesn't matter for charging. You had a USB A to lightning (or Mini USB or micro USB or...)  cable. If it doesn't need more than 12W, it really doesn't matter if the other end is USB A or USB C. This is also a reason it will take a long time to change. For the majority of uses, people don't need the power capacity of USB C. It's not unlike coming out with 220V appliances and expecting everyone to start putting 220V plugs in their homes.

    USB C is clearly more flexible than USB A - higher power capacity, the ability to handle thunderbolt data in the same port. the problem is, USB C cables are not all the same and can be spec'd differently, so your USB C cable may work for charging but not for thunderbolt or vice versa, essentially adding a whole lot of confusion to the picture.
    edited July 13 BigDannbaconstangkestralRayerwilliamlondonwaverboymac_128FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 11 of 71
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 580member
    By the time I need a new Mac or iPhone, USB-C will be nearly ubiquitous, therefore I don’t worry about it yet. 
  • Reply 12 of 71
    iOS_Guy80iOS_Guy80 Posts: 198member
    apple ][ said:
    I can only speak for myself, but I only have one device which accepts USB-C power at the moment and that's the iPad Pro, so when I eventually buy a USB-C power supply for it, I'll be looking for a one port USB-C power supply, because it'll be priced less and I don't need any more ports for now.
    Same situation as me and the Mophie powerstation PD Xl handles USB-C and Lightening. Great charger.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 71
    BigDannBigDann Posts: 45member
    MplsP said:
    flydog said:
    Hahahaha. 

    Whoever sold you on the lie of USB-C was doing you no favors. 

    Hold on while we run out and swap all the USB-A ports in everything. 
    Incredible that people perpetuate this nonsense.  
    Have you looked around? Pretty much every single car has a USB A plug. The airplane has a USB A plug. The Hotel has a USB A plug. The combination USB outlet I found at Home Depot is USB A. Virtually every wired mouse and keyboard made is USB A. The only place USB C is at all common is the Apple Store.

    USB A is the standard. It may change in the future, but it will take a long time. Apple putting USB C ports on its computers doesn't magically change the rest of the world. As someone mentioned above, though, except for high power devices like MacBooks, it really doesn't matter for charging. You had a USB A to lightning (or Mini USB or micro USB or...)  cable. If it doesn't need more than 12W, it really doesn't matter if the other end is USB A or USB C. This is also a reason it will take a long time to change. For the majority of uses, people don't need the power capacity of USB C. It's not unlike coming out with 220V appliances and expecting everyone to start putting 220V plugs in their homes.

    USB C is clearly more flexible than USB A - higher power capacity, the ability to handle thunderbolt data in the same port. the problem is, USB C cables are not all the same and can be spec'd differently, so your USB C cable may work for charging but not for thunderbolt or vice versa, essentially adding a whole lot of confusion to the picture.
    The USB standards group messed up!

    The USB-C connector is not built to handle higher current flows newer laptops will be needing (you can blame Intel for that).

    They also failed to define a clear marking for USB-C cables so power only cables can be id'ed from data only cables or other possible configs.

    For now its a USB-A world and will be for quite a few years. Don't forget USB-A is still a cheaper solution which is ideal for slower I/O like mice, trackpads, printers and scanners. Many engineering & medical lab systems still use USB-A and I don't see them changing 80~150k devices out just to get a USB-C connection when it is overkill for what they need.

    Is USB-C a good thing? Yes! For data for sure! Power is a bit iffy as long as phones and laptops don't need more power to charge their batteries then it should work (80 watt is about the break point, anything more could cause the cable and connectors to overheat).
    edited July 13 baconstangwilliamlondonwaverboyMetriacanthosaurus
  • Reply 14 of 71
    Apple needs to stop being so cheap and put 2 ports on their charger, one USB-C for power delivery for their laptops and at least one USB-A for other things. That would have stopped so many people complaining. Sure they still cannot connect their iPhone to their MBP, but at least it can get power.

    Also, stop including a 5W power brick for their latest iPhones. Apple, the absolutely cheapest manufacturer out there and getting worse. $50 premium if you want a keyboard with a number pad. Absolutely ridiculous. Desktop keyboard without a number pad, is really sad, even if you aren't an excel person. Paying a premium may be ok (not really), but $50 premium is too much. Same goes for their SSD upgrade costs (even with the discount as many of the tiers have the same pricing), and the price premium to upgrade from 16GB to 64GB in their iPhones (what, no 32GB option?). Really cheap.

    I don't game much at all. The last game I really played was AoE 2, but I want Apple to really have a Mac that supports gaming. I'm tired of integrated graphics and no Nvidia support. Apple, during Macworld, used to demo games and how well they run on their Macs. Not for a long time. Only time this happens is with their iOS demos. Would be nice to place the latest and greatest NVIDIA or AMD GPUs in an upgradable Mac without a hiccup. Yes, this is solely Apple's fault. They could play nicer with other people.
    kestralwilliamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 71
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,582member
    I actually overloaded a 6-port USB charger for the first time last night— a fairly robust unit, charging watch, small bluetooth speaker, iPad Pro, iPad, and two power banks.  While that was a rare occurrence, exaggerated by the fact that my wife didn’t have her travel charger, I think the power limits are going to need to go up more than anything else.

    Going back and looking at the specs, the maximum total power for the unit is only 35W— across 5 2.4A and 1 “QC” port— grossly inadequate for six ports.  It needs to be at least 60W.  That is where most of the effort likely should be spent now IMO.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 71
    baconstangbaconstang Posts: 551member
    USB-C is far from ubiquitous.  
    In the last few months I've installed A/V systems in a PBS studio and at a major tech company's new HQ.  Of the many USB connections made, 10% (or less) were USB-C.

    It was forward looking of Apple to introduce USB-C when they did.  It was short sighted to not include USB-A in most of their offerings.
    williamlondonwaverboy
  • Reply 17 of 71
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,028member
    My sister and her husband have 4 kids, all have iPhones, and they were always misplacing the power bricks.  So, I bought them USB-A wall jacks for Christmas (technically a present for the adults, the kids got cash). 

    Fast forward several years, they’re still in use... I don’t think anyone has an iPhone 8 (or newer) so no USB C.

    Previously, they’d get new iPhones every year... not any more.  The iPhone 7 was good enough, now they’ve been getting cars, computers, AirPods.  The iPad mini sees little use, and the iPad Air a bit more, both are still USB A.

    Eventually, all the devices will be USB C (as they fail) but it’s a low priority.  No need for new wall jacks this year, possibly next year... but 2 will be away at college by then, so why bother...

    As for USB C chargers, it will be whatever that comes with the device.  USB A was the “golden age” USB C is the necessary evil replacement...
    williamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 71
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,187member
    jdw said:
    Manufacturers aren't stupid.  What they do reflects what the consumer demand.  It's a fact that even now in July 2019 most computers and devices used worldwide still have USB-A.  It's a fact that cannot be denied.  And until the average consumer has ditched all those legacy USB-A devices, nothing will change.
    You just said that manufacturers won't support USB-C until customers support USB-C which you claim won't happen until manufactures support USB-C. Do you not see a problem with your statement? Do you not see how all technologies have become a common standard?

    Regardless of your disdain for USB-C the adoption and use grows every year.
    chiaStrangeDayskpomwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 71
    Honestly... EVERYONE should be doing USB-C now. 

    Sure, manufacturers should PROVIDE adapters for about two years and then go full throttle. 

    Its a great standard and does EVERYTHING. 

    There is no drawback beyond “well... my old compooter on the farm don’t got that newfangled shape!”

    thats what adapters are for. Only the luddites use them (as it should be. They have a different gadget for everything). NOT the ones using one port to save them all in order to clean it up and unify things. 

    I wish Apple went full bore USB C only. 

    It would make a lot a lot of things so much simpler. We use all Apple where I work. Having to get different types of cables for iMacs and MacBook pros is annoying. 



    chiacaladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 71
    BigDann said:
    MplsP said:
    flydog said:
    Hahahaha. 

    Whoever sold you on the lie of USB-C was doing you no favors. 

    Hold on while we run out and swap all the USB-A ports in everything. 
    Incredible that people perpetuate this nonsense.  
    Have you looked around? Pretty much every single car has a USB A plug. The airplane has a USB A plug. The Hotel has a USB A plug. The combination USB outlet I found at Home Depot is USB A. Virtually every wired mouse and keyboard made is USB A. The only place USB C is at all common is the Apple Store.

    USB A is the standard. It may change in the future, but it will take a long time. Apple putting USB C ports on its computers doesn't magically change the rest of the world. As someone mentioned above, though, except for high power devices like MacBooks, it really doesn't matter for charging. You had a USB A to lightning (or Mini USB or micro USB or...)  cable. If it doesn't need more than 12W, it really doesn't matter if the other end is USB A or USB C. This is also a reason it will take a long time to change. For the majority of uses, people don't need the power capacity of USB C. It's not unlike coming out with 220V appliances and expecting everyone to start putting 220V plugs in their homes.

    USB C is clearly more flexible than USB A - higher power capacity, the ability to handle thunderbolt data in the same port. the problem is, USB C cables are not all the same and can be spec'd differently, so your USB C cable may work for charging but not for thunderbolt or vice versa, essentially adding a whole lot of confusion to the picture.
    The USB standards group messed up!

    The USB-C connector is not built to handle higher current flows newer laptops will be needing (you can blame Intel for that).

    They also failed to define a clear marking for USB-C cables so power only cables can be id'ed from data only cables or other possible configs.

    For now its a USB-A world and will be for quite a few years. Don't forget USB-A is still a cheaper solution which is ideal for slower I/O like mice, trackpads, printers and scanners. Many engineering & medical lab systems still use USB-A and I don't see them changing 80~150k devices out just to get a USB-C connection when it is overkill for what they need.

    Is USB-C a good thing? Yes! For data for sure! Power is a bit iffy as long as phones and laptops don't need more power to charge their batteries then it should work (80 watt is about the break point, anything more could cause the cable and connectors to overheat).
    That’s what standards revisions are for. 

    That “limitation” is plenty. But let’s say you really do need greater power overhead in the future. A backward conpatibale USB-C 2 fixes that right up. Just like USB 3, the various FireWire and Thunderbolt revisions, etc. 

    It’s literally not an issue. 
    chia
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