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New USB-C certification program to guide consumers away from faulty chargers

Derek Walter | Aug. 18, 2016
Soon you'll see labels that tell you the wattage and ensure you that the charger meets industry standards so it won't fry your smartphone.

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When you go to buy a charger, it comes with a reasonable expectation it won’t fry your phone.

Unfortunately, with newer USB-C chargers the reality hasn’t been so clear cut. Many third-party cables have been shoddy, spurring Google engineer Benson Leung into a one-man campaign to call out offenders. OnePlus had to issue replacements after it sent out a damaging USB-C cable and adapter.

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the group behind certification, announced a new logo and compliance program that should go a long way towards preventing such tragedies.

certified charger logo

The certification program is a much-needed effort to give customers more information about what they’re buying.

Certified chargers will “resemble a traditional power brick or wall wart” and interoperate with compatible with USB-C devices, according to the group. Manufacturers will be able to put a logo on the charger that also indicates the wattage it can supply so there’s no more guesswork. 

It may help sort out what can be a confusing area. For example, PCWorld’s Gordon Mah Ung performed a charging test with several laptops and found inconsistent results in terms of whether or not the chargers worked or would only transmit data.

But USB-C is undoubtedly the future. The Galaxy Note 7 uses this for charging, one of the last flagships to make the switch over from microUSB. So when you go to look for a third-party USB-C charger, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the logo and note the charging capacity. It could avoid a very costly replacement.

The impact on you: The new labeling system will give you a verified way to know the wattage of a charger and to trust that it meets proper specifications. The USB-IF doesn’t have any type of enforcement power, but smart manufacturers will want to jump aboard this effort at giving buyers the confidence they should have. Unfortunately, poor USB-C cables that don't perform up to spec will probably be a reality for awhile longer.

 

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