"What doesn't come with USB-C in 2019?"


#1

In episode 2×46 Stuart Langridge predicted companies would finally embrace the USB-C connector in 2019. Which prompted both Jono and Jeremy to ask: “What doesn’t ship with USB-C today”?

Since it become clear no-one seems to have any reliable data on this topic, I decided to do a bit of market research on this. The original post is a bit long and this is not an attempt at a shameless plug for going to my blog, so here’s a summary and if you really want to dive into all the raw data you can still click on the link at the very bottom.

Of course it’s impossible to look at tens of thousands of devices, so I had to narrow it down a bit. I decided to look into the following three questions:

  • Does the majority of the new devices released in 2018 and 2019 come with USB-C?
  • The existence of devices with USB-C ports alone doesn’t mean people are actually buying them. Does the majority of the actually popular devices in a device category come with USB-C?
  • Devices with USB-C ports are often more expensive. Do you have to spend more the get the same device with USB-C?

As data sources I used Geizhals and Amazon.de. Geizhals is a large European price comparison website, if a product is on one of Geizhals’s Top 10 lists, it is usually actually popular.

Summary:

  • About half of the currently popular smartphones ship with USB-C, and it’s mostly the more expensive ones. Not all new models automatically get USB-C, e.g. the highly popular Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite got a Micro-USB-C despite other models in the same line (Mi A1, Mi A2) already shipping with USB-C. But you don’t have to pay more if you really want USB-C, the cheapest smartphone I could find goes for 85 €.

  • It’s hard to estimate how many laptops ship with USB-C because neither Amazon nor Geizhals can over the Enterprise market. There’s a huge rift between top-of-the-line ultrabooks and gaming laptops, which all have USB-C, and those cheap ~400 € notebooks lots of people buy on Amazon. If you really want USB-C, you’re going to have to pay more.

  • Most top-of-the-line tablets have USB-C or even DisplayPort over USB-C, but old models from 2017 or even 2015 continue to be popular. Until those old devices get a hardware refresh, most tablets being sold right now probably don’t have an USB-C port.

  • USB-C doesn’t play any role in the market for external magnetic hard drives, but all popular external SSDs have an USB-C port. The reasons are quite obvious I would say.

  • It’s very hard to find external displays, printers and human interface devices with an USB-C port.

  • There are surprisingly many cheap Gigabit Ethernet adapters with an USB-C port, Amazon even sells one under the AmazonBasics brand.

The raw data can be found here: http://www.lieberbiber.de/2019/04/02/state-of-usb-c-connector-in-2019/


#2

Very interesting. Thanks for the in-depth report, @sturmflut!

–jeremy


#3

That’s a lot of research, very cool! I think that, the cheaper a common thing is, the less likely it will show up on your lists as popular and bought in a store without too much research; like cheap storage, smartphones and notebooks. But I have no data about that.

The prediction starts at ~26:11, or YouTube link here: https://youtu.be/mSiPrx4yiTQ?t=1571
With the parallel to parallel ports, and the frequent referencing of whether people like it or not, I’m going to say it’s not strictly that devices ship with USB-C, but that it becomes the norm.

I think that the information provided by sturmflut is really useful because it can show how USB-C might have become a standard in a different market, rather than displacing regular old USB. As long as a regular store mostly has data cables for smartphones as USB-C to USB-A, as well as most flash drives as USB-A, and printers with USB-A, I think USB-A is still the most universal.

But USB-C is on high end smartphones and external SSDs, because it’s more portable than USB-A due to size, and more portable than micro-USB due to convenience and durability, and more portable than both due to the increased amount of features. Additionally it removes the bottleneck from the port. A Samsung S10 still comes with a USB-C to USB-A cable for data and charging, as well as a USB-C to USB-A converter for attaching flash drives.

For the time being televisions will most likely still be used with HDMI, monitors most likely with DisplayPort or HDMI, flash drives with USB-A, phone chargers with USB-A. But single-port devices can interact with all of those using different cables and converters, and I think that is USB-C’s greatest strength: the single-port device.


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