When choosing a suitable USB cable for charging and data transfer, what should you pay attention to? Contrary to appearances, it is one of the essential elements of taking care of safety and speed of charging our devices.
The type of charging socket is essential
The first parameter we pay attention to when choosing a cable is the device’s charging socket type. When selecting a cable, it is helpful to know what kind of charging socket the device has, for which we want to match the cable with the same connector, also called the connector. For example, iPhones and Pads have a Lightning socket, while Android devices usually use USB-C or MicroUSB. Without knowing this, it’s better not to reach for your wallet or make sure that the cable fits your device on the packaging.
Not every cable has a data transfer function
Like charging via a USB cable, transferring data seems like something you would take for granted. However, contrary to appearances, not every cable is suitable for data transfer, for example, from a smartphone to a computer. The cheapest low-quality USB cables can be stripped of the data transfer function, offering only the ability to charge. Such a serious limitation is a procedure that is supposed to affect the cable price. And indeed it does, but is it really worth saving so much? Let’s be careful with cheap USB cables and check their actual capabilities.
Cable length is important, it is crucial for charging speed and data transfer
There is a belief among some people that the length of the cable does not affect the charging parameters or the data transfer speed. Meanwhile, it is a bit different. Two cables with identical parameters but different lengths, e.g. 0.5 m and 2 m, charge differently. You need to remember that when replacing the length of the cable, it should also have a larger diameter. This is all to maintain the correct charging speed and data transfer parameters. So what is the optimal length of the cable with a standard current of 2A? It is a length of up to 3 metres.
Longer cables are proportionally more expensive because more materials (more copper) have to be used in their manufacture. However, they offer the possibility of connecting to a charger that is far from the charging socket of your smartphone or tablet, e.g. under a desk or behind a cabinet. Manufacturers of devices usually attach to the original set of short or standard length cables, which are unsuitable for all applications and only meet the minimum requirements. In this case, it is worth reaching for longer cables. And this without worrying about the charging speed or safety.
When choosing a suitable cable, it is also worth paying attention to its manufacturing quality – the diameter of the cable and the quality of the insulation and endings. Using such cables is dangerous, and we wholeheartedly advise against it. Solid cables have a special reinforcement here, making the cable much more resistant to bending and, therefore, can last longer. The material from which the cable’s sheath is made (often double) does not affect its data transfer parameters or current strength.
The ampere is not the name of a Greek god, but a unit of current
On the packaging of USB cables, chargers and many other electronic devices, you will find, among other things, two important units: the voltage (V) and the amperage (A) of the current.
Most smartphones and chargers charge with 5V – this is the industry standard (USB standard). Exceptions are devices that support various fast-charging systems. And here, with support came the USB Type C standard, giving much more possibilities. Therefore, some chargers with Quick Charge technology offer a variable voltage from 3.6 up to 20 V, and smartphones supporting this system can adjust the size of the voltage.
In cable selection, we are also interested in amperage, defined by the number of amperes (A).
An ampere is a unit of electric current. The amperage informs us about the intensity of the current flow. In the context of charging, it is helpful to know that the higher the amperage, in theory, the charger and cable can charge the smartphone faster. There are quite a few chargers on the market with low amperage and cables with low current transfer. The average charger will offer 1A. Older, weak chargers only give 0.5A. New, strong chargers, which can be found in sets with tablets or flagship smartphones, deliver 2A and more. However, in TelForceOne offer, you can also find chargers with power up to 3,4A or even 5A.
The cable should be matched to the power of the charger. And vice versa
And here we come to the crux of the matter. The cable can slow down charging. If it is too weak, then we have a bottleneck.
Even the most powerful, fastest-charging charger is useless if a poor cable with a low maximum current transfer is connected to it. The cable will determine the maximum charging speed. Conversely, if the charger offers low amperage, even the best 3-amp cable will not help – the charging speed will still be limited by the charger’s power and the device.
To understand this better, let’s look at an example. In the package with the smartphone, we received a charger with a power of 2A. Meanwhile, the cable is only single-ampere. Our phone will be able to charge with a maximum of 1A (cable power), not 2A (charger power). In the end, it is the smartphone’s software that decides the amperage, but that’s a topic for another article.
Good advice – don’t buy cables that don’t have the specifications listed. A 1A cable, the most popular choice for consumers, is not bad. It just needs to be suitable for the charger and the device. It would be a shame not to use it because you want to save a few dozen zlotys on a poor quality USB cable. If we have a modern smartphone that supports fast charging, let’s make sure to charge it with a cable and charger that can handle high currents. After all, you have to pay for the fast charging function.
Why pay attention to USB cables?
First of all, you should be aware of the importance of choosing the right USB cable for your charger and device. A poor cable can not only get damaged quickly, but it can also be slow to charge a device that could theoretically charge much faster. If you connect the correct quality charger and cable to it, it can.
All products mentioned in the article are available at selected online consumer electronics stores and at the official Forever shop on Allegro.
TelForceOne, owner of the Forever brand, is a part of the Polish TelForceOne S.A. Capital Group and one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of consumer electronics in Poland, as well as Central and Eastern Europe. The company’s portfolio includes modern mobile solutions, consumer electronics and mobile phone accessories.