USB Type-C Cable controversy

USB Type-C Cable

Cable makers are apparently having a bear of a time constructing reliable USB Type-C cables, and it’s not entirely clear why. Perhaps they’re underestimating the importance of building these newfangled cables to spec or maybe they’re cutting corners to save a few pennies—whatever the case might be, consumers are paying the price.

The latest example of this is a voluntary replacement program Apple initiated for a “limited number” of USB Type-C charge cables that were included with MacBook computers through June 2015. According to Apple, these cables suffer from a design issue that could cause them to fail and not charge the MacBook they’re attached to, or only charge intermittently.

If you have an affected cable, Apple will replace it free of charge. The recall applies to both cables included with MacBooks and Apple brand USB-Type C charge cables that were sold as standalone accessories.

To see if you have one, look on the cable itself. If it says, “Designed by Apple in California, Assembled in China” and nothing else, then it’s eligible for a replacement. The redesigned cable will contain the same text, but with a serial number added.

Shoddy USB Type-C cables have been an ongoing issue. It came to light when a Google engineer named Benson Leung began leaving user reviews for USB Type-C cables sold on Amazon. He called out the ones that were out of spec while highlighting the potential dangers, including any issues he might have run into himself, and praised the ones that were as advertised (and did so in a transparent manner).

As a result of his efforts, OnePlus offered refunds to anyone who purchased its own brand USB Type-C cable, which was found to be out of spec (it used a 10kΩ when it should have been using a 56kΩ resistor).

More recently, Leung paid a hefty price for his crusade when a badly constructed USB Type-C cable fried the USB ports on his Chromebook Pixel, along with the device he was using to test them with.

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