Make Sure Your USB Type C Cable is Standard-Compliant, Lest Your Device Gets Fried
Ever the aficionado with a passion for making sure products are conforming to the right type of standards, Benson Leung is a Google Engineer who has devoted much of his time to truly testing out cables and accessories since the move to USB Type C started.
In the past months, he’s reviewed a plethora of different types of cables, adaptors, legacy adaptors, accessories; you name it. By now, he’s got a healthy repertoire of both Google+ posts and Amazon reviews, all complete with links to relevant store pages, clear verdicts on whether they work as advertised (or indeed as they ought to be working), weighing compromises against price and so on. Chances are, if it’s remotely related to Type C and can be plugged into a phone, he’s reviewed it.
You might also remember how, in November of 2015, Mr. Leung raised concerns over the stock OnePlus cables, which had cut some crucial corners in design and production. At the time it was released, many purchased it despite not owning OnePlus devices as it was amongst the earliest ones available. However, when paired up with the new Nexus 5X, 6P and Chromebooks, it had the potential to harm everything from your charger to your PC USB hub. All was this due to a conscious decision to not comply with official standards, and media was quick to pick up on the news.
Benson has previously stated that some of the third-party accessories being sold are “downright dangerous”, so by taking the time to test out as many of these as possible, there was bound to be a major error incurred eventually. This time around, there was more than just the potential for damage and erratic or faulty behavior. A particularly poorly designed off-brand cable managed to completely fry the $1499 Pixel 2 it was being tested on, as well as two USB PD analyzers. The original post, along with the review and a further follow-up can all be found on his Google+ page.
In this particular case it was down to poor and incorrect soldering of wires (of which all required wires were not even present) and having the wrong resistor, which ended up causing a really bad time for everybody. These types of situations are exactly why we’ve heard we should be careful when using third-party products, but desperately hope to avoid when heading straight for the cheapest options. For the time being it looks like reviews of what cables are safe to use are going to slow considerably.
Perhaps we’ll have to settle for ordering cables and just try them out ourselves – like savages – not knowing if they’ll be working as intended, or well on their way to raise our insurance premiums. Such is the temporary price we pay for a new standard, but luckily there are enlightened minds like Benson Leung out there to show us – and OEMs – the righteous path to a safe USB Type C adoption.