USB-C Cords & Tech Giveaways: Here’s What You Need to Know

December 13, 2018

USB-C Cords & Tech Giveaways: Here’s What You Need to Know

Technology is ever-changing. These changes and the complexity of the products becomes very apparent when shopping for promotional items for tech giveaways and other events where ‘the best’ is the target.

The fact of the matter is this: Not everyone uses the same brand, which makes choosing a tech savvy promo item a little more complicated. (There’s always the Apple vs. Android debate!) Each type of device uses a different cord to charge and to transfer data, which means one cord may work for someone with an iPhone, but may not if you have a Samsung or Google Pixel. It also means that what works for an older version of an iPhone doesn’t work for the latest iteration. And, unless you’re going to a convention where only iPhone users or Google Pixel users will be present, your clients and prospects are going to run the gamut as far as which smartphones, tablets, and computers are in their collection.

How do you ensure they are able to use the tech giveaway your business is offering? It’s tough.

Enter the USB-C cable. USB stands for Universal Standard Bus, and has developed over the years to include various types of connectivity. Despite the fact that the USB-C cable has been around for a few years now, there are still some hiccups.

And it’s these hiccups we want you to be aware of when you’re looking to purchase the best tech giveaways. When you’re buying swag for your next trade show, training or client gifts, take it from us, someone will be calling you out if you’re purchasing yesterday’s technology.

Don’t Judge a Cable by Its Connector

The USB-C is the latest in tech cables, and touted as the new standard when it comes to USB types. You’ll find it on many new devices, including the latest Apple iPad Pro 11, the latest Apple notebooks as well as the Samsung Galaxy 8/9 smartphones, the Google Pixel 3 and the Moto G6/Z3. It’s super speedy at transferring large amounts of data in record time (think music or movies). Bonus: The USB-C cables are reversible, so they can be inserted into your device either way.

Sounds great, right? And, for the most part it is great, but there is still a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about the USB-C connector. The most glaringly obvious point is this: One USB-C is not like the other. You’re thinking...what? Yeah, it’s confusing. So, the USB-C moniker refers to the shape of the connector and not necessarily the protocol - in other words, what’s going on inside.

Physically, two cords can have the same USB-C shape, but the functionality of the cord will vary drastically. That’s where you’ll find that USB-C connectors come in USB 3.1, 3.0, or 2.0 speeds. And it’s this transfer speed that can mean transferring data in seconds versus minutes as well as how quickly your device charges. This is critical if your target market is the tech savvy crew.

The USB-C connector hasn’t been adopted by all manufacturers across all devices, which means there will be adapters involved. Translated: One cord likely won’t work for all your devices.  



Mixing up cords resulting in slower data transfer may not seem like that big of a deal, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not.

Manufacturers are cutting corners to offer the cable at a more affordable price tag, but in doing so, produce a cheap, low standard product. Without safety standards put into place, there is risk of having horrible things happen to your device, which is a bad day no one wants to have.

To avoid this happening to one of your own devices - or the devices of your prospects and clients - in buying USB-C cables, you don’t want to bargain shop. Invest in the higher price cord, and make sure it’s coming from a trusted source.

Apple is addressing this issue of cheap, knock-off connectors. They created the MFi Certification Program which is a licensing program that allows developers to create accessories that are compatible with all Apple’s mobile products: iPhone, iPad, and iPod. Any Lightning connector that boasts the MFi Certification can be a trusted to have the right protocol for the suite of mobile products Apple sells.

Another plus to Apple’s MFi Certification Program is that licensing partners can now manufacture USB-C to Lightning cables. Consumers will benefit as the cost of the third party cables will be less expensive than Apple’s version and standards of these third party products will also be a leading factor. 

Invest In Your Tech Giveaway

As we’ve shared, not all USB-C devices support all of the latest USB-C specs. As a consumer this makes choosing the right connectors challenging, but as a marketing professional or business owner in charge of choosing a phone charger for your next trade show, the task can be daunting.

Our advice: choose a tech giveaway based on the end user. A safe bet would be to offer something that everyone can use or select a certified product that you know meets industry standards in both design and protocol. Investing in quality giveaways will let your prospects and clients know you invested time, energy, and dollars where it counts. And that will go a long way for your business and your brand.

If you’re having trouble deciphering which charger (or any other cool tech giveaways) are best for your 2019 marketing plan, give us a call! We’re here to guide you to the best products and to keep you informed on the latest and safest technology.