In its latest attempt to make the USB-C standard less confusing, the USB-IF group has unveiled a new set of logos for companies to put on their certified USB4 and 240W cables. And while we’re happy to see USB-C cables become more identifiable, these logos are a bit … uhhhh, they’re not very intuitive.
Let’s start with some praise. These logos clearly state whether a USB-C cable supports high-speed data transfer, high-speed charging, or both. Customers seeking a cable with these features can look at a product’s packaging, find the big red logo, and say “okay, this is what I’m looking for.”
I’m also glad that the USB-IF is encouraging manufacturers to stick these labels on their USB-C cables, not just the packaging. It makes high-quality cables easier to identify when they’re shoved in a drawer or strewn on the ground along with a bunch of crappier cables.
But these logos don’t provide a lot of context. Average buyers may not understand that an expensive 240 watt cable is about a hundred times faster than what their smartphone needs, so they may end up overpaying in the name of speed. And because charging and data transfer standards aren’t tied together, customers may not realize that their “Certified USB 240-watt” cable can’t transfer data at USB4 speeds.
Also, manufacturers sell USB-C cables with all sorts of different charging and data transfer speeds. Yet these logos only show if a cable fits 40Gbps, 20Gbps, 240-watt, or 60-watt standards. There’s a part of me that supports this decision because it’s nice and simple, but forcing manufacturers to print their cables’ charging and data transfer speeds in big red letters regardless of what standard they fit seems like a solution that would at least provide some context to shoppers.
While I’m not totally satisfied by the USB-IF’s new logos, they’re still a nice addition that could help some customers navigate the confusing world of USB-C. We should take this as a win because, let’s be honest, USB-C is so fractured and confusing that even the experts seem a little confused by how it works.