New USB-C certification program to guide consumers away from faulty chargers

Soon you'll see labels that tell you the wattage and ensure you that the charger meets industry standards so it won't fry your smartphone.

When you go to buy a charger, it comes with a reasonable expectation it won’t fry your phone.

Unfortunately, with newer USB-C chargers the reality hasn’t been so clear cut. Many third-party cables have been shoddy, spurring Google engineer Benson Leung into a one-man campaign to call out offenders. OnePlus had to issue replacements after it sent out a damaging USB-C cable and adapter.

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the group behind certification, announced a new logo and compliance program that should go a long way towards preventing such tragedies.

certified charger logo USB-IF

The certification program is a much-needed effort to give customers more information about what they’re buying.

Certified chargers will “resemble a traditional power brick or wall wart” and interoperate with compatible with USB-C devices, according to the group. Manufacturers will be able to put a logo on the charger that also indicates the wattage it can supply so there’s no more guesswork.

It may help sort out what can be a confusing area. For example, PCWorld’s Gordon Mah Ung performed a charging test with several laptops and found inconsistent results in terms of whether or not the chargers worked or would only transmit data.

But USB-C is undoubtedly the future. The Galaxy Note 7 uses this for charging, one of the last flagships to make the switch over from microUSB. So when you go to look for a third-party USB-C charger, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the logo and note the charging capacity. It could avoid a very costly replacement.

The impact on you: The new labeling system will give you a verified way to know the wattage of a charger and to trust that it meets proper specifications. The USB-IF doesn’t have any type of enforcement power, but smart manufacturers will want to jump aboard this effort at giving buyers the confidence they should have. Unfortunately, poor USB-C cables that don't perform up to spec will probably be a reality for awhile longer.

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Derek Walter

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