The USB Type-C Specification 1.0 was published by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) and was finalized in August 2014. It was developed at roughly the same time as the USB 3.1 specification. In July 2016, it was adopted by the IEC as "IEC 62680-1-3".
A device with a Type-C connector does not necessarily implement USB 3.1, USB Power Delivery, or any Alternate Mode: the Type-C connector is common to several technologies while mandating only a few of them.
USB 3.2, released in September 2017, replaces the USB 3.1 standard. It preserves existing USB 3.1 SuperSpeed and SuperSpeed+ data modes and introduces two new SuperSpeed+ transfer modes over the USB-C connector using two-lane operation, with data rates of 10 and 20 Gbit/s (1250 and 2500 MB/s).
USB Type-C and USB-C are trademarks of USB Implementers Forum.
The 24-pin double-sided connector is slightly larger than the micro-B connector, with a USB-C port measuring 8.4 millimetres (0.33 in) by 2.6 millimetres (0.10 in). Two kinds (genders) of connectors exist, female (receptacle) and male (plug).
Plugs are found on cables and adapters. Receptacles are found on devices and adapters.
USB 3.1 cables are considered full-featured USB-C cables. They are electronically marked cables that contain a chip with an ID function based on the configuration channel and vendor-defined messages (VDM) from the USB Power Delivery 2.0 specification. Cable length should be ≤2 m for Gen 1 or ≤1 m for Gen 2. Electronic ID chip provides information about product/vendor, cable connectors, USB signalling protocol (2.0, Gen 1, Gen 2), passive/active construction, use of VCONN power, available VBUS current, latency, RX/TX directionality, SOP controller mode, and hardware/firmware version.
USB-C cables that do not have shielded SuperSpeed pairs, sideband use pins, or additional wires for power lines can have increased cable length, up to 4 m. These USB-C cables only support 2.0 speeds and do not support alternate modes.
All USB-C cables must be able to carry a minimum of 3 A current (at 20 V, 60 W) but can also carry high-power 5 A current (at 20 V, 100 W). USB-C to USB-C cables supporting 5A current must contain e-marker chips programmed to identify the cable and its current capabilities. USB Charging ports should also be clearly marked with capable power wattage.
Full-featured USB-C cables that implement USB 3.1 Gen 2 can handle up to 10 Gbit/s data rate at full duplex. They are marked with a SuperSpeed+ (SuperSpeed 10 Gbit/s) logo. There are also cables which can carry only USB 2.0with up to 480 Mbit/s data rate. There are USB-IF certification programs available for USB-C products and end users are recommended to use USB-IF certified cables.
Devices may be hosts (DFP: downstream-facing port) or peripherals (UFP: upstream-facing port). Some, such as mobile phones, can take either role depending on what kind is detected on the other end. These types of ports are called Dual-Role-Data (DRD) ports, which was known as USB On-The-Go in the previous specification. When two such devices are connected, the roles are randomly assigned but a swap can be commanded from either end, although there are optional path and role detection methods that would allow devices to select a preference for a specific role. Furthermore, dual-role devices that implement USB Power Delivery may independently and dynamically swap data and power roles using the Data Role Swap or Power Role Swap processes. This allows for charge-through hub or docking station applications where the USB-C device acts as a USB data host while acting as a power consumer rather than a source.
USB-C devices may optionally provide or consume bus power currents of 1.5 A and 3.0 A (at 5 V) in addition to baseline bus power provision; power sources can either advertise increased USB current through the configuration channel, or they can implement the full USB Power Delivery specification using both BMC-coded configuration line and legacy BFSK-coded VBUS line.
Connecting an older device to a host with a USB-C receptacle requires a cable or adapter with a USB-A or USB-B plug or receptacle on one end and a USB-C plug on the other end. Legacy adapters (i.e. adapters with a USB-A or USB-B plug) with a USB-C receptacle are "not defined or allowed" by the specification because they can create "many invalid and potentially unsafe" cable combinations.
A device with a USB-C port may support analog headsets through an audio adapter with a 3.5 mm jack, providing four standard analog audio connections (Left, Right, Microphone, and Ground). The audio adapter may optionally include a USB-C charge-through port to allow 500 mA device charging. The engineering specification states that an analog headset shall not use a USB-C plug instead of a 3.5 mm plug. In other words, headsets with a USB-C plug should always support digital audio (and optionally the accessory mode).
Analog signals use the USB 2.0 differential pairs (Dp and Dn for Right and Left) and the two side-band use pairs for Mic and GND. The presence of the audio accessory is signalled through the configuration channel and VCONN.
An Alternate Mode dedicates some of the physical wires in a USB-C 3.1 cable for direct device-to-host transmission of alternate data protocols. The four high-speed lanes, two side-band pins, and (for dock, detachable device and permanent cable applications only) two USB 2.0 data pins and one configuration pin can be used for alternate mode transmission. The modes are configured using vendor-defined messages (VDM) through the configuration channel.