OK we admit it – cables are dull. Whole articles on them are perhaps even more so. But bear with us, because when it comes to USB-C it’s important to invest in the best possible cables or risk damaging your expensive new equipment.
USB-C is emerging as a universal charging and syncing port on electronic devices. This is good because it means that already people can take just one charger on the road for both their phone and laptop. While Apple iPhones still use the Lightning connection, its laptops are transitioning to USB-C and many Android smartphones now use it too.
The two main advantages to USB-C aside from a universal port for all devices are faster charging and syncing technology, and the reversible design – no more fiddly micro USB cables and damaged ports!
The problem however is that USB-C has frustratingly not achieved official standardisation in the industry. This means that badly made, cheaper cables with dodgy components could potentially damage your expensive, beloved devices. This can be down to physical port damage or a badly managed flow of electrical charge.
The basic rule, unfortunately, is don’t buy cheap. Here we give you the best USB-C cables out there, not only for quality and compatibility, but also for different use cases and devices.
Apple USB-C to USB-C cable
This 2m Apple cable performs the same function as the Moshi cable above, but does not have the indicator lights. It is the same cable that ships in the box of the 12in MacBook, and works best when connected to Apple’s MacBook charger.
It can also be used to sync a USB-C device with a USB-C laptop, and has the usual Apple quality to it. It’s slightly more durable than Apple’s iPhone cables.
Apple USB-C to Lightning Cable
This 1m cable (which Apple recently reduced to £19 in the UK or $19 in the US from £25/$25) is available direct from Apple as a standalone accessory. It is primarily for syncing an iPhone with Lightning port to a MacBook with USB-C connectivity, for example connecting an iPhone 7 to a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.
It’s a tad frustrating that if you own Apple’s latest iPhone and MacBook Pro that you’ll have to buy this cable on top of that to connect the two. It’s also available in 2m length here for £29, or $35 in the US.
The alternative to yet another cable is an adapter. Here are the best USB-C adapters rounded up by our colleagues at Macworld UK.
Syncwire Nylon-Braided USB-C to USB-A Cable
Syncwire's nylon-braided USB-C to USB-A (3.1) cable does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin.
The technical specs are pretty standard, with 3A charging output and 5Gbps data transfer, but it's the build quality that makes this stand out for the price - it feels incredibly durable thanks to the nylon braiding, and we're beginning to suspect that our sample might actually outlive us.
Thankfully, that durability doesn't come with the cost of rigidity, and the cable is still flexible enough to be convenient for ordinary usage.
AmazonBasics USB-C to USB-A
Amazon also has their own range of USB-C cables. This USB-C to USB-A cable comes in two lengths (1.8m/6ft and 2.7m/9ft) and in two colours (black and white). The type-C end is reversible, so you don't have to worry about which side is facing up when you insert the connector into the port.
The cables support quick charging and syncing, with 3 amps of power output and 480Mbps data transfer speeds. You also get a 1 year manufacturer warranty from Amazon.
AmazonBasics also has a USB-C to Micro-B version available for £6.99/US$7.34. You can get it in 3 lengths up to 1.8m (6 feet), though prices vary.
Anker USB-C to USB-A cable
This cable from Anker does exactly the same as the Syncwire above, though it lacks the nylon braiding.
It’s a good, affordable option – you could opt to buy three or four and leave them at work, at home or in different rooms so you always have one to hand when you're running low on juice.
Belkin USB-C to Micro USB cable
Belkin is a long-standing, well regarded brand and it produces a lot of USB-C cables. One of it’s most useful is this one which connects devices with micro USB to USB-C chargers or laptops.
This would be best if you own a USB-C laptop and want to charge and sync your Android smartphone or tablet – again, you are unlikely to have one of these cables already, and it will come in surprisingly handy once you’ve got one.
We also like Belkin's USB-A to USB-C cable that's using version 3.1 for speeds of up to 10Gbps. That means you can transfer a movie in seconds.
See Belkin’s full range of USB-C accessories here.
This is a niche product, but one we love all the same. Some Apple fans were sad to see the MacBook line lose the MagSafe connector when it transitioned to USB-C. This cable and magnetic adapter from Griffin allow for peace of mind – if you trip over the cable, it clips off rather than sending your MacBook flying.
Note, though, it does not support data syncing or transfer for any device – just charging.
STK binary 3 Micro USB, Type C & Lightning cable
This is a neat, useful cable as it is also micro USB and Lightning compatible. So, if you travel with devices with multiple ports it could be a bit of a space saver. US shoppers can find a similar option from Tech Armor here ($14.95)
USB-C connectivity works very well, but just remember you can only charge one thing at a time. It's a bit pricey (you can get it for £18.99 from Robert Dyas) but you might find the price worth it as the textured material protecting the cable is top notch and is bound to allow quite a lot of wear.
It can be used for charging and data transfer.