Universally nifty peripherals for your USB-C smartphone
USB is dead! Long live… USB-C! Yes, having been around in some form or other since the ’90s, the humble UUniversal Serial Bus has undergone a transformation in the past few years. Here’s our guide to the best USB-C phone accessories.
Where once you had microUSB and Mini USB and Pixie USB (OK, not the last one), we now increasingly have one type of connector – USB-C. It’s in most smartphones and laptops.
Great! But what else can you do with USB-C beyond charging? Loads, actually: we’ve rounded up 10 of the best USB-C accessories that you can stick in your mobile today.
What is USB-C?
USB-C is the name for the latest type of USB connector, rather than a new USB standard itself. Unlike all previous USB connectors, you can plug it in either way around and the cables also charge both ways, meaning that you could use a peripheral to charge a phone, or a phone to charge a peripheral.
While it’s not in itself faster than old types of USB – it’s just a type of connector, remember – almost all USB-C cables are also USB3.1, which means they’re twice as speedy as USB3.0, which was itself much quicker than USB 2.0. USB 4 has now also made an appearance.
It also supports simultaneous power and video transfer, with audio recently joining the gang too; but while we expected USB-C headphones to appear in droves, they didn’t really. It even works with Intel’s super-fast Thunderbolt 3 and 4 data connectivity standard, meaning you can use it to power and display big 4K screens.
The best USB-C accessories to buy today
Universal USB-C Desktop Charging Dock
There’s something symbolically satisfying about a phone plinth that’ll take any USB-C-equipped device.
Thankfully, this universal dock is more than just a pretty podium for your new flagship: it’ll let you charge and sync your smartphone simultaneously, making use of USB-C’s speedy data and power transfer rates.
It’ll fit pretty much everything, too, thanks to a height-adjustable connector. Really, though, it’s best for sticking on the desk to show off your shiny baby.
Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C
A good power bank should do two things: charge your device and charge it quickly.
Anker’s PowerCore+ does both with aplomb: capable of charging your phone with a 2.4A current – the fastest possible – it’s also equipped with a truly capacious 20,100mAh cell. That’s enough to juice most mobiles seven times over.
Admittedly, it does take around 8hrs to charge, so you’ll need to be organized before hitting the road – but, replete with current-stabilizing tech, it’s a no-brainer for making the most of USB-C’s charging abilities.
USB-C to Micro USB Adapter
Sometimes the smallest, simplest things are the most necessary – and that’s very much the case with this USB-C to microUSB adapter.
Tiny it might be, but it also means you can plug your existing microUSB-equipped devices into your new USB-C gear. Think: cameras, peripherals and more – and it’ll work with your new MacBook, too.
It supports USB OTG tech, so you should be able to host compatible devices from your phone, not to mention charging at 2.4A and data transfer rates of up to 480Mbps. See, small things can be powerful.
USB-C car charger
Few cars are equipped with USB-C ports – which means you’ll be stuck using an adapter unless you have a newish vehicle. This adapter draws power from your motor’s 12V port.
Aside from offering a USB-C port – alongside an older USB-A output – it also has a trick in its shell, in the form of an in-built 3000mAh battery, for a backup boost when the engine’s off.
Kanex USB-C to HDMI 4K adapter
Functionally, this one’s pretty straightforward: stick it in the USB-C port and you’ll be able to beam your stuff to a nearby screen in 4K via a HDMI lead.
OK, so you could use some clever casting tech to achieve the same thing, but sometimes cables are the surest bet – and this one’s pretty nifty.
Just make sure to check that your mobile supports audio/video out via the USB-C port.
Kingston Data Traveler 32/64/128GB Micro Duo
Sure, if you’ve got yourself a 256GB or larger phone then storage shouldn’t trouble you for a while. That said, stick a few full HD films on there and you’ll soon be heading for trouble.
Plug in this tiny flash drive from Kingston and you’ll get more storage space depending on the size you choose – perfect for avoiding full-phone crises.
Equipped with a capped USB-C connection, niftier, still, the USB-A nub is on its other side, meaning it’ll go both ways between your phone and your PC.
Type C to 3.5mm cable
As a rule of thumb, if Apple does something, you can usually expect others to follow suit. So it is with the headphone port: removed on the iPhone 7 back in 2016 – and many rival manufacturers have followed suit.
Attached to a set of wired cans? Grab a converter and you’ll be in business. It does, though, mean you won’t be able to charge while you listen.
Braided USB-C to USB-C cable
If you want to use a USB-C to USB-C lead you’ll want to pick up a decent one to ensure it lasts – and delivers on transfer rates. This is a great choice and is available in several colors as well as lengths.