The Universal Serial Bus, or USB for short has been used over the past two decades in devices of all sorts, whether it's used to connect printers, portable storage devices or even modern smartphones, one can find the USB symbol on the connectors of countless household devices even today.
The original USB technology soon got overrun with devices which were interested in using it on a whole new level. A transfer rate of 1.5 Mbps - 12 Mbps for low bandwidth and high bandwidth devices respectively was nowhere enough to satisfy many manufacturers. This lead to a series of upgrades which took place over the last two decades and have brought us better, more efficient and more reliable versions of the USB connector.
Let's take a look and compare some of the more well known versions, the USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and the USB-C.
The USB 2.0
Being an upgrade to the standard USB cable and connector (now called the USB 1.0), USB 2.0 added more bandwidth to satisfy manufacturers who were interested in making large portable storage devices.
The default USB 1.0 was still capable of running input devices such as a keyboard, mouse and various controllers but when it came to storage devices, the time it took to copy data to your USB drive also increased as people started asking for more storage capacity.
To solve all these issues, the USB 2.0 increased the full-bandwidth limit to 480 Mbps theoretically while most modern USB 2.0 devices perform at 280 Mbps (35 MB/s) due to limitations and energy losses. This solved the issue of having to reduce data transfer times as it put the USB connector on-par with most hard drives of the time.
The USB 3.0
Then came another upgrade in 2008, the USB 3.0, further increasing the maximum theoretical bandwidth from 480 Mbps to 4.8 Gbps (400 MB/s is a reasonable realistic speed to achieve provided that the device itself is capable of functioning at that speed).
As USB devices started getting more complex since the introduction of USB 2.0, power requirements also increased for certain devices. Mobile phones, even modern smartphones and other handheld devices currently use the USB ports to charge themselves.
This caused the manufacturers to increase the maximum power output which the USB cable can provide from 500 mA (USB 2.0) to 900 mA (USB 3.0). This additional power makes the USB 3.0 port the preferred option for setting up USB hubs as they'll be able to support and provide power to multiple devices without failing.
Another significant advancement between these two models was the introduction of full-duplex communication, making it possible to both send and receive data at the same time whereas the USB 2.0 worked on a half duplex mechanism.
The USB-C connector looks towards the future and aims to replace all the different USB connectors we see around us in our daily lives. Ranging from the USB-B, a square-shaped large connector for printers, the standard USB-A connectors we use for our computers as well as the various mini connectors used for handheld and smaller devices across the world.
The USB-C itself provides us with a relatively small connector but being small isn't its most important characteristic. The USB-C ends the need to flip your USB connector at least three times before it fits in the slot by being completely reversible, capable of connecting no matter how you align it.
Another advantage is that the small size lets manufacturers use it on devices of all sizes and when it comes to speed itself, the USB Type-C connectors are capable of running at whatever speed it's designed for. Many current connectors run on the USB 2.0 spec but as time goes on, we can be sure to see Type-C connectors which use the USB 3.0 or even USB 3.1 technology, giving us access to transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps.
And in terms of power, when used these cables are more than capable of carrying 1.5 A to 3 A, making it possible to charge modern notebooks with a USB wire while also supporting the 900 mA power which smartphones and many other devices prefer to have.