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Charging cable - everything you need to know about it

One of the most important elements of taking care of safety and speed of charging your phone and other devices is a USB cable. In this article we explain what are the characteristics of different USB standards, what types of connectors for charging are currently used in smartphones and what you should pay attention to when choosing the right cable for charging your device.

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A charging cable is, along with a charger, one of the most important GSM accessories for any user of a smartphone or other device to charge. Phones have beautiful and increasingly large displays, and provide us with more and more advanced features that we like to use. Not surprisingly, the battery on the phone is draining more and more often and we need to plug the device in for charging. Without a suitable USB cable, charging a smartphone using a network charger or powerbank would be impossible. On the market there are charging cables with different USB standards, different types of connectors, as well as different performance, length and design. Find out what are the differences between the different types of cables to the phone and which model is worth investing in. In this article we suggest what to follow when choosing the best universal cable for charging and data transfer and what to pay attention to in order to properly take care of safety and speed of charging our devices. 

How does a USB cable work?

A USB cable usually consists of four wires, such as: ground, voltage, a wire to transmit data, and a wire that is responsible for receiving data. Cables of newer standards such as USB 3.0 or USB-C have correspondingly more wires, while the principle of operation is the same. The host gives the connected devices addresses and checks the mode in which the device wants to exchange information. There are three modes of information exchange between devices.

Isochronous mode is the mode in which data is sent in real time and continuously (e.g. webcams, headphones or speakers)

Interrupt mode is a mode that is designed for devices that send or receive small amounts of data at regular intervals (e.g., in computer mice and keyboards).

The third mode is the bulk mode, which is characterized by sending large amounts of data in a sequential manner while maintaining data integrity. This mode is used by printers and scanners, among others.

Modern computers and laptops are usually equipped with several USB ports. If the number of USB sockets in the device is insufficient, you can use the so-called USB hub. USB hub allows you to divide one port into several sockets, which allows to connect even several devices at the same time.

In this way you can connect up to 127 devices, but to use the connected devices effectively you should limit their number. It is connected with limited bandwidth and energy requirements.

Bandwidth limit defines the maximum speed of data transmission provided by the link. The bandwidth of the link is divided into download speed and upload speed. The sum of used bandwidth of connected devices cannot exceed the limit, which varies depending on the USB standard used. For example, USB 3.0 has a limit of 10 Gbps. If the connected devices exceed the limit, the host will reject further communication attempts with some of them.

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Types of USB standards

USB 1.0 and 1.1 

The first generation of USB 1.0 was created in 1996. Cables using this standard allowed to transfer data at a speed of 1.5 Mbps. Due to small errors that affected the quality of their use, necessary modifications were made and in 1998 the improved USB 1.1 standard was introduced on the GSM accessories market, which provided bandwidth of 12 Mbps.

USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed)

The USB 2.0 cable made its debut in the year 2000. The second generation of USB was named high speed and as the documentation indicates, it allowed to transfer data on the level of 60 Mbps, and write data in the range of 25 to 30 Mbps. Although it is already quite outdated standard, it is still used today by a large number of devices. The USB 2.0 standard can be found primarily in computers, keyboards, mice and other devices. For transferring small amounts of data this standard will be sufficient. However, in case of transferring larger amounts of data, e.g. from external drives or pendrives, the speed offered by this version of USB will make copying the data take a long time.

USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed)

USB 3.0 cables were introduced to the market in 2008, starting a true revolution in the transfer and reception of data between devices.  The USB 3.0 standard offers a bandwidth of up to 5 Gbps, allowing simultaneous transmission and reception of data between devices (full-duplex transfer), at the same time with a low power consumption (900 mA). Such a high throughput, allowing a very fast data transfer, has been achieved by using 5 additional contacts in the plug and 4 additional wires in the cable.

USB 3.0 differs from USB 2.0 by higher bandwidth, faster data transfer and also energy efficiency. It is worth mentioning, that the USB 3.0 cables are fully compatible with the second generation devices, but then their throughput decreases to the level of USB 2.0 cables. After the emergence of USB 3.1 it was renamed to USB 3.1 Gen 1.

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