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Prep for Lumia 950 & Lumia 950 XL: USB Type C – What is it and what to buy

The Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL both feature a USB-C connector supporting the USB 3.1 standard for faster charging and data transfer. It replaces the micro-USB port we've grown accustomed to. This means buying new cables if you lose one or need an extra charger at another place. We'll help explain more about USB Type-C and what cables to get in case you need one.

What is USB Type C?

USB Type-C (the plug's shape) is about the same size as the micro-USB port, but you no longer need to worry if you've inserted it upside-down. Both orientations work, so it's easier to plug in. For reference, the micro-USB connector is considered USB Type-B, while the USB port on your laptop is USB Type-A.

What is USB 3.1?

USB Type-C supports the USB 3.1 standard that is capable of transfer rates of up to 10Gbps. That's double the transfer speed of USB 3.0! Additionally, these cables can support up to 100W of power, which is enough to charge full sized notebooks.

What to get

The Lumia 950 and 950 XL comes with a wall charger with USB Type-C connector at the end. The output is 5V, 3A. Most recent phones come with 5V, 2A micro-USB wall chargers. The Microsoft Store currently does not sell a replacement charger.

USB 3.1 Type-C male to USB 3.0 Type-A male cable

USB C

If you want to transfer files between the Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL with your PC, you can use a USB-A to USB-C cable. This comes included with your Lumia 950 and 950 XL. If you need to get an extra one and if your laptop or PC has USB 3.0 ports, make sure to get a cable with a USB 3.0 type A male connector on one end and USB Type-C male connector on the other end.

If you end up getting a USB 2.0 cable, the transfer speed is about ten times slower on paper (480Mbps vs. 5,000Mbps). USB 3.0 connectors are usually distinguished from their USB 2.0 counterparts by blue color-coding of the receptacles and plugs, and the initials SS.

After some research, we found a cable from Nekteck on Amazon.com that meets the requirements:

Buy the Nekteck USB 3.1 USB Type-C to USB Type-A USB 3.0 cable (opens in new tab)

Microsoft Display Dock

Using the USB Type-C port on the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, you can connect them to the Microsoft Display Dock. This gives you the option to use Continuum and connect the phone with a keyboard, mouse, and external monitor. Early Lumia 950 XL buyers might be lucky to get this accessory for free.

USB-C OTG cable

We'll be testing this in the next few days, but there are USB Type-C OTG cables so you can attach USB flash drives and other hardware to the Lumia 950 and 950 XL. We'll update this shorty after some testing.

USB-C is the future

Expect to see more devices, and not just phones, featuring the USB Type-C connector. It supports faster data transfer, faster charging, and more importantly, it's easier to plug in! Are you getting extra cables already? Sound off in the comments!

Mark Guim is Video Editor at Windows Central. He switched to Windows because the MacBook Pro isn't Pro enough. You can follow him on Twitter at @markguim.

70 Comments
  • Looking forward to put my hands on the XL... Jordan
  • Contacted i2 today , said its coming later this year , by mid Dec
  • Mid december in middle east or just Jordan? :-0
  • Never heard any time line for middle east from MS.. :-/
  • Usually they're released in Middle East 2-4 weeks after release in Europe, (based on my observation on authorized retailers here in KSA.
  • Benson Leung, a Googler, has been testing USB-C cables. He reviews them on Amazon He's also on G+ 
  • Who cares what anyone from spyware-city, I mean google, especially a loser who still clings to G+, thinks?
  • Because he's an engineer and is spending his spare time to test and call out USB-C cables that are dangerous. That's why you need to care. The USB-C world is the wild west currently. But by all means ruin your phone if you want to dismiss a Google Pixel team engineer's findings. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Lol yeah even the type c flash drives have similar problems
  • I do. Just because he comes from a place you don't appreciate doesn't make his information any less valuable. I definitely have his page bookmarked for when I start to aquire devices that use USB-C.
  • Since you don't seem to care about his thorough recommendations, may I recommend this cable to you. Very cost effective! http://www.amazon.com/Hapurs-Charging-Reversible-ChromeBook-Supported/dp...
  • The Amazon reviews of that cable are quite negative..
  • That's probably the joke.
  • One thing is , when the inventor of the usb port dies they'll lower his coffin down, pull it back, rotate it then lower it down.
  • Too funny
  • Apple claims they invented it
  • No they don't, especially setting as they lay claim to a competing connection which is better.
  • thats one of thew funniest comments i have ever read.  I dont have much of a personality and to get me to laugh is a major accomplishment.  thx
  • I wanna get...ohhh yeah, Verizon.
  • I just heard on the radio yesterday, AT&T will pay you $300 to transfer from Verizon.
  • Dang! Makes me want to sign up for something cheap on Verizon just to transfer back and have AT&T pay for half my 950. Oh, wait... there's nothing cheap on Verizon. Still, good offer from AT&T. Probably why I've already been with them for so many years.
  • Bought that same USB-C cable a couple days ago, and bought a USB-C card for the desktop to go along with it. Now the question is how fast will it be able to transfer data to internal and memory cards, and will the memory be able to keep up.
  • I bought those 128GB micro SD cards that were on sale at Amazon a few days ago, their speed is 60 MB/s, I don't think I'll see much beenfit there, but the internal storage should be much faster
  • Absolutely not.  Even 100MB/sec is way out of reach of all but the most hideously expensive cards, so that 10Gb/sec speed it totally and utterly wasted.
  • Lol bought a pny 256gb 3.0 drive last year from tiger wasn't worth it as any file over a GiB will take forever to transfer
  • Let's not forget the speed the port carries isn't all about storage transfer speed. While you're copying a movie from a USB HDD to your phone, you may also be streaming something in 4K to a monitor. It takes bandwidth to do that as well. ?!? You'd hate your mouse and keyboard to slowdown during all that, wouldn't you?
  • "For reference, the micro-USB connector is considered USB Type-B, while the USB port on your laptop is USB Type-A.​" ...For reference, the micro-USB connector is considered micro-B--but generally just called micro-USB since the micro-A/mini-A standards are rarely used--while USB Type B is the larger, square-ier shape seen on external enclosures, monitors, printers, etc.
  • Is Micro A the digital camera, printer and PS3 controller connector?
  • I'm not sure, as my Nikon D60 has a mini-A and I've never owned a PS3. A diagram can be found here if you want to see the shapes yourself: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB#/media/File:Types-usb_th1.svg From my understanding, some companies have deviated in the past and made their own proprietary version based off the standards, so that's also a possibility.  
  • Yeah have an old kodak with a proprietary mini. Some brands like skullcandy use mini for thier pc wireless headphones for charging & wii u game pad pro
  • I don't know the PS3 controller one, but maybe you are talking about the USB Mini-B, which is almost the same size as the micro-B, but a little thicker, shaped more like a trapezoid.
  • Do the phones come with Usb-c to Usb-c cables ? , in general , what cables do the phones have in the box?
  • The article says that the phone comes with an USB A to C cable.
  • USB C to A; USB C to AC
  • This. My new Dell XPS has a thunderbold port, which uses USB-Type C...that's the same, right? I'd love to have the chance to unload a coulbe GB worth of pics to my laptop (I always double check that nothing was missed when auto-uploading to Onedrive) in about 5 seconds. :)
  • This article has impecable timing. I actually just bought this exact cable an hour ago, with the recommendation of a Google engineer who has been reviewing every USB-A to USB-C that you can find (more info here http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A25GROL6KJV3QG/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=U... ) .
    I also bought this cable, since it's twice as long, and I sometimes need a cable longer than 3 ft. It only has USB 2.0, but that should be fine. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010VFFU1W?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=ox_...
    I also bought this one for my car (edit: Thank you Cell4one for exposing my derp of linking the one from his profile of ones that he doesn't recommend. I added the new link below)
    Also, one thing that should've been mentioned is to be VERY VERY CAREFUL WITH THE POWER BRICK THAT YOU USE. Some deals have cords that are compliant and provide the correct amount of resistance while having bricks that can't handle it.
  • He doesn't recommand the car charger that you bought. "Hi, Benson again reviewing USB Type-C accessories. After many requests, I am finally reviewing the Tronsmart 36W 2 Port Car charger. The Tronsmart 2 port car charger has one green USB Type-A port on top, and then a USB Type-C captive cable, meaning it has a Type-C plug on one end, and the other end cannot be removed from the charger. For this review, I am going to focus closely on the Type-C captive cable. For my analysis I am using my Chromebook Pixel 2015 and my USB PD Sniffer device (search chromium.org for twinkie), also available here : Plugable USB 3.1 Type-C (USB-C) Power Delivery Sniffer According to the USB PD sniffer, the CC line on the charger connected via the captive cable is pulled up to Vbus using a 10kΩ resistor. According to the USB Type C specification Section 4.11.1, this indicates to the device being charged that this power source is capable of supplying 5V 3A. However, please look carefully at the rating text on the side of the charger. I have attached a picture of it. It says "Output(each port): DC 5V/2.4A"
    This means that the tronsmart charger is using the incorrect CC pullup, as the charger itself is not rated at 3A. When I plugged in my somewhat discharged Chromebook Pixel 2015, the Pixel would not charge (my twinkie current meter measured 0mA current), and it appeared that the charger itself had browned out. The Chromebook Pixel made a high pitched squealing sound until I disconnected it from the charger. As an experiment, I also tried connecting Pixel to the Tronsmart's OTHER usb port using a compliant (56kΩ terminated) USB A-C cable. Using the other port, the Pixel charged properly. In conclusion, this charger is using the wrong CC termination given its rating of only being able to handle 5V 2.4A out of each port. Fast charging Type-C devices like the Chromebook Pixel may try to pull 3.0A out of the captive cable, improperly browning out the charger."
  • Wrong link. That was another one I was looking at. Here's the one I got. Edit: So apparently the comment is broken, as it won't let me hit ok when I post a link. Double edit: I'm on my phone now http://www.amazon.com/Charger-Charge-Adaptive-Macbook-Chromebook/dp/B015...    
  • Thanks for your time Jas00555.
  • Gonna see how long I can go FULL WIRELESS.  I dont need 3 different specs of USB cable on my kitchen counter.
  • Go type-c male to type-c male cables only, and just have a few adapters to older types. Then you have just one cable for everything and a few small adapters for 'legacy'. Such small adapters are easy to handle, much easier that cables that take up space and get entangled
  • Wireless onry!  Transfer files?  OneDrive!!!  Charging?  Qi!!!
  • Looking forward to USB OTG
  • I just made my pre-order for my XL. :-)
  • Monoprice is the place for cables.
  • Yes, have never had a bad cable or failure. The dawn of HDMI made them my go to shop.
  • LOL, and rotate again as it was ok the first time anyway. Can't wait to ditch all non type-C cables
  • Who deletes a comment that makes one LOL and reply, while one replies
  • This is the first time I've ever been excited about a new connector standard. Unfortunately, everyone else in my house has relatively new phones and will be on USB micro for a while.  
  • Yah! same wavelenghts here people!...though I purchased a different cable.  Unless I missed it I don't think there's a review by Mr. Leung for a similar cable by Rankie (linke below). It's a bit cheaper and looks to be similarly solid (via reviews) compared to the one recommended in the article. I haven't used or tested it out yet, so grain of salt where needed.   http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010SFDKC6?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_...
  • I suppose the new Lumias are not Qualcomm Quick Charge compatible despite using top-of-the-line Qualcomm processors...
  • They specifically said that it supports fast charge when they unveiled it. I can't imagine why you'd suppose any different.
  • Because Fast Charge is not Quick Charge. Fast Charge is a standard within USB C, the other is proprietary tech from Qualcomm. I've read nothing that said the two were compatible.
  • Lol fast charge is qi last i checked
  • Are you sure it comes with type-A to type-C in the box? I think it only comes with type-C to type-C.  
  • Watched an unboxing. It comes with a wall charger that goes to Type-C and a Type-A to Type-C cable for file transfers, as the article suggests (which I was surprised by, since you usually get a USB cable and an AC adapter that the cable plugs into, so it's both your wall charger and file transfer cable).
  • Weird (but still great), because the actual list of contents in MSFT own product page mentions a SINGLE cable. Is this unboxing online?  
  • IDK, maybe. There IS only one cable. This would mean that the charger doesn't have a breakaway cable like most do, option for an older style where the charger and adapter are permanently fixed together. That would make the data cable in the box the only cable in there.
  • (sorry double)
  • Need to review USB-C to MicroUSB adapters
  • Sad, sad thing is, those don't exist as yet, and i have been looking. Also want USB A to female C. Don't exist, not even on alibaba. Just want to stick those in PC ports, to be able to go over to usb-C cakes all the way.
  • http://www.startech.com/m/ConXit#3119,3123
  • Do they even make USB 2.0-USB Type-C cables? I wouldn't think so, meaning no worries you'd get a slower cable. Also, sucks that I can no longer use my Xbox One's 8-foot Play & Charge cable on my phone if I upgrade, but that's OK. I'll need to find a long Type-C though, since I use a desktop in my bedroom and am 3-5 feet from the tower with my phone. Also, are there external batteries that push 3A yet? The battery I have now has two ports, one running at 1A and the other at 2.4A. The 0.6A boost wouldn't be a big deal, but just something to wonder as I maybe get a new battery someday.
  • This is a little late, but to answer your question: yes, they do make USB 2.0 cables. I actually see more of those on sale usually. They're also usually half as much as 3.1 cables.
  • SOo, the charger is one piece or is it a C to A cable that plugs into an adapter? Also, these are "international" chargers as usual, aren't they? So input is 100 to 240v
  • Cool. Thanx for the article. Was wondering about this...
  • Be extra careful with the kind of USB-C cable you buy! Some of these cables may even damage your device! Here is a guy from Google who tested these cables exhaustively and posted comments on Amazon.com.  
  • Mark, Thanks for the primer on USB-C - learnt something! Also, thx for letting use know you're going to be testing the OTG feature in the next few days :)
  • I'd be happy with some braided usb-A to usb-C cables that meet spec correctly. I want the iOrange cables but they are not available in the UK. Only options are Ankar only in one length and the ridiculously priced Belkin cables. Any one got a source for decent cables in the UK?
  • Should the adapter work which Apple sells for it's Macbook? I think it's not that different to the Continuum box (it has usb-a and hdmi).