Thunderbolt 3 and USB Converge With New 40 Gbps USB4 Specification

The USB Promoter Group standards body today announced the pending release of a new USB4 specification.


USB4 converges the Thunderbolt and USB protocols as part of Intel's goal to make Thunderbolt available on a royalty-free basis, which should result in wider and cheaper availability of Thunderbolt accessories like docks and eGPUs.

As USB4 is based on Thunderbolt 3, it offers data transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps, which is twice as fast as the bandwidth of the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 specification. USB4's underlying Thunderbolt 3 protocol also means the specification supports up to two 4K displays or one 5K display over a single cable.

The simplest way to view USB4 is as Thunderbolt 3, but royalty free for manufacturers. Intel will continue to offer Thunderbolt 3 on a standalone basis with a few advantages over USB4, including more support with reference designs and technical issues for manufacturers, according to The Verge.

USB4 will use the USB-C connector design and will be backwards compatible with USB 3.2 and USB 2.0 specifications.

The USB4 specification is on track to be published around the middle of 2019. Over 50 companies are actively participating in the final stages of review of the draft specification, which should include Apple, Intel, and Microsoft, but it might take a few years until the first USB4 devices are released.


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High-Capacity USB-C Battery Pack Comparison and Review: Everything You Need to Know

A few years ago, it was difficult to find a USB-C battery pack capable of charging a MacBook at a speed of 30 or 45W, but with Apple and other companies increasingly embracing USB-C technology for everything from smartphones to laptops, high-powered USB-C battery packs have become more readily available.

Higher-watt USB-C battery packs are ideal for fast charging iPhones and iPad Pros, providing power for MacBooks and MacBook Air models, and even charging up a MacBook Pro when charging speed isn't an issue.


In this guide, I'll be comparing 27, 30, and 45W battery packs with capacities ranging from 19,000 mAh to 26,800 mAh from companies that include Mophie, Anker, RAVPower, Jackery, and ZMI to help MacRumors readers find the best USB-C battery pa$70re+ 26800 PD (30W)

USB-C Battery Pack Basics


All USB-C battery packs suitable for use with devices like the MacBook or MacBook Pro are large in size and generally just under or over a pound in weight. You're not going to want to stick one of these in your pockets, but they fit into a bag or a backpack.

Each of the battery packs we tested are 45W or less, because there are no higher watt battery packs available on the market. They all come in at under 100Wh, which is the limit that you can take on a plane in your carry-on luggage (power banks like these can't go in checked baggage).


All of these battery packs have additional USB-A ports so that you can charge more than one device at a time, but keep in mind that the maximum power for each one is distributed between devices when you have more than one thing plugged in. If you want the fastest charging for something like a MacBook that takes all of the available power, charge it alone.

For recharging these battery packs, you're going to want a USB-C PD power adapter that provides 30 to 45W of power. Some of them come with an appropriate power adapter, while some of them don't. You're going to get the fastest recharging speeds over USB-C, and when dealing with a power bank of this size, faster recharging is essential. Most of these will recharge in 2 to 4 hours using a 30 or 45W power adapter.

While all of these battery packs are between 19,000 and 26,800 mAh, no battery pack provides the maximum stated capacity because some power is always lost when transferring charge from one device to another.

Charging iPhones


All of these USB-C battery packs are able to fast charge compatible iPhones, which includes the iPhone 8 and later. With fast charging, if you use a USB-C to Lightning cable, you can charge an iPhone to right around 50 percent within 30 minutes, and to about 80 percent in an hour.

Charging slows as an iPhone's battery gets fuller, which is why it doesn't get to 100 percent within an hour.


I tested all of these battery packs with an iPhone XS Max and an iPhone X just to make sure everything was functional, and every single one was able to charge these devices to 50 percent in a half an hour with very little deviation, and to about 75 to 80 percent in an hour.

As for capacity, these battery packs are able to charge an iPhone multiple times over. Expect to see at least three charges for an iPhone XS Max from the smaller ~20,000mAh battery packs, and somewhere around 4 to 5 charges from the 26,000mAh battery packs. You'll get more charges for the iPhone 8, iPhone X, and iPhone XS, and similar performance from the XR.

Charging iPads


For the current-generation 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, if you use a USB-C to USB-C cable, you can charge them faster with one of these USB-C battery packs than you can with the standard 18W charger that comes with them.

On average, the 18W USB-C power adapter from Apple charges my iPad Pro to 45 percent in an hour. With a 30 or 45W USB-C battery pack, the iPad Pro consistently charges to 65 to 66 percent in an hour. The higher capacity battery packs provide about two full charges to an iPad Pro, while the lower capacity ones are about a charge and a half.


Older iPad Pro models that support fast charging capabilities will be able to fast charge using these USB-C power banks paired with a USB-C to Lightning cable.

Charging MacBook and MacBook Air


All of these USB-C battery packs will charge the USB-C MacBook and MacBook Air at the same speed that you would get with the standard MacBook or MacBook Air power adapter. There's no benefit to using over 30W, so each of these offers about the same charging speed with the only difference being capacity.


The higher capacity battery packs will charge a MacBook or a MacBook Air one and a half to close to two times, while the smaller capacity models offer about a full charge and then another 20 percent.

Charging MacBook Pro


Because the 15-inch MacBook Pro models ship with a 85 or 87W Power Adapter for charging, it might come as a surprise that you can also use all of these 30W and 45W chargers with the MacBook Pro.

Charging is a good deal slower than what you get with the more powerful 15-inch MacBook Pro power adapter, but it works. In fact, as you'll see in my testing below, it even works when the MacBook Pro is in use for tasks that are not super system intensive like web browsing, using social media, writing, sending emails, light graphics editing, watching YouTube videos, and more.


I have seen people ask whether using a lower-powered power adapter is going to damage the battery of the MacBook Pro, and from what I can tell from my research, the answer is no. It will charge slower, but it shouldn't ultimately impact performance compared to a standard charging method.

For the MacBook Pro, 45W is better, as it is the highest capacity power bank that you can get. All of these chargers will charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro to at least 50 percent, while some offer enough juice to give it a full charge.

I didn't test these battery packs with the 13-inch USB-C MacBook Pro because I don't own one, but everything that pertains to the 15 inch model is also true of the 13-inch model. These battery packs will charge the 13-inch MacBook Pro even faster (though not at 61W speeds) and will provide more capacity than with the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

30W vs. 45W


Most of the USB-C battery packs available are 30W, with a few 45W options on the market, so both options are included in this review.

For most Apple devices, there is no functional difference between 30W and 45W because MacBook, MacBook Air, iPad Pro models, and iPhones are not going to charge faster with a 45W power bank than with a 30W power bank. All of these devices max out at 30W, and some, like iPhone, max out at 18W.


Where 45W does make a difference over 30W is charging a 13 or 15-inch MacBook Pro. MacBook Pro models will charge noticeably faster with the 45W power bank than with a 30W version. 45W is, of course, lower than the 61W or 85/87W chargers 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models ship with, so don't expect standard charging speeds with these power banks.

Testing Parameters


I wanted to test these batteries in real world conditions with real world devices rather than relying on testing equipment to give potential buyers an idea of the actual performance they can expect from a USB-C battery pack.


Tests were conducted with a 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2016 (76Wh), a 12-inch MacBook from 2016 (41.4Wh), an 11-inch USB-C iPad Pro from 2018 (29.37Wh), and a 2018 iPhone XS Max (12.08Wh). iPads and iPhones were discharged to 1 percent before testing, and Macs were discharged to 5 percent. Charging tests were done in Airplane Mode and with displays off, with the exception of the in-use MacBook Pro test.
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MacRumors Readers Hoping for USB-C Instead of Lightning in 2019 iPhones

This morning, we asked our readers on Twitter if they'd prefer to see USB-C ports or Lightning ports in the 2019 iPhone lineup, and the results so far are clear -- MacRumors readers are ready to transition to USB-C.

With more than 15,000 responses across both platforms at the time this article was written, 74% of Twitter users have chosen USB-C over Lightning, as have 71% of Facebook users.


There have been some rumors suggesting Apple is at least considering transitioning to USB-C in the 2019 iPhone lineup, with USB-C prototypes supposedly floating around, but the most recent information from Japanese site Mac Otakara suggests Apple will continue to use Lightning for the 2019 iPhone lineup.


Given the mixed rumors, it's looking like we may not be seeing a shift to USB-C in 2019, but it's still possible, and the rumors are encouraging because it means we may see a transition away from Lightning in the near future. iPhones in 2020 or 2021 could feature USB-C, even if the 2019 iPhones don't.

Many current iPhone users may be reluctant to shift from Lightning ports because they've spent years collecting Lightning-based accessories, but there are some benefits to be aware of. With USB-C, iPhones would charge faster than with the current 5W iPhone adapter and Lightning cable setup, and cables would be interchangeable with cables for the MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and iPad lineup.

With USB-C support for the iPhone, a single cable could be used to charge all of the above listed devices, and existing power adapters for these devices would fast charge the iPhone, providing at least 50% power in 30 minutes and 80% power within an hour.


MacRumors readers on social networks have weighed in, but we also want to hear from those who are visiting the site. Our Twitter and Facebook polls are open for the rest of the day, so go vote! USB-C or Lightning?

Also, if you don't already, make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, where we share news stories, polls, videos, tips and tricks, and other interesting Apple-related information.

Related Roundup: 2019 iPhones

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Anker Opens Pre-Orders for First MFi Lightning to USB-C cable, Shipping February 20

Mobile accessory maker Anker has opened pre-orders for the first Apple-certified USB-C to Lightning cable under the Made for iPhone (MFi) program, and will start shipping the cables later this month.


Apple late last year began allowing third-party companies to produce MFi certified USB-C to Lightning cables, and as a result, multiple companies have announced the upcoming launch of new USB-C to Lightning cable options.

However, as noted by The Verge, it looks like Anker will be the first to make the accessory available, thanks to its PowerLine II USB-C Cable with Lightning Cable.

The cables will be available in both three and six-foot lengths and in different colors, but pre-orders are currently only for the three-foot White PowerLine II, which costs $15.99. An equivalent one-meter (or three-and-a-quarter foot) USB-C to Lightning cable from Apple costs $19.

All cables support Anker's Power Delivery system (using its separately available USB-C Wall Adaptor), have a 12,000 bend lifespan, and come with a lifetime warranty. The company originally planned to launch the cables in March 2019, but initial pre-orders will now ship around February 20.

Tags: USB-C, Anker

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CES 2019: Satechi Launches New Multi-Port USB-C Chargers Ideal for Latest iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and More

Satechi today at CES 2019 announced it has released two new power adapters, including a dual-port wall charger and a four-port travel charger.


The wall charger features one 18W USB-C Power Delivery port and one 12W USB-A port, while the travel charger features a pair of 60W and 18W USB-C Power Delivery ports and two USB-A ports with a total max output of 12W.

The 18W USB-C port on the wall charger is ideal for charging a 2018 iPad Pro or fast charging the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone XR with a USB-C to Lightning cable. Fast charging an iPhone provides up to 50 percent battery life in just 30 minutes, according to Apple.

The four-port travel charger is ideal for not only the latest iPhone and iPad models, but larger devices such as the newest MacBook Air and Nintendo Switch.


The dual-port wall charger is available for pre-order for $29.99 in space gray on Satechi's website in the United States, with orders estimated to begin shipping on January 31. The four-port travel charger is available now for $69.99 on Amazon and Satechi's website and ships in an estimated one to two days.

Satechi does not include charging cables with either power adapter.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and Satechi. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission, which helps us keep the site running.


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CES 2019: Griffin Releasing USB-C to Lightning Cables and Chargers Later This Year

Apple-certified accessory maker Griffin today at CES 2019 announced that it will be releasing a collection of USB-C to Lightning cables and power adapters for the latest Apple devices in the second quarter of 2019.


Griffin will offer basic USB-C to Lightning Cables in four-foot and six-foot sizes for $19.99 and $29.99 respectively in the United States, along with a five-foot option with a more premium braided aluminum design for $34.99. All three cables are pending certification under Apple's Made for iPhone program.

By comparison, Apple offers USB-C to Lightning cables in 3.2-foot and 6.5-foot sizes for $19 and $35 respectively in the United States.

In tandem, Griffin will be releasing three new PowerBlock and PowerJolt power adapters: a wall charger with an 18W USB-C port for $39.99, a wall charger with an 18W USB-C port and 12W USB-A port for $49.99, and a car charger with an 18W USB-C port for $39.99. Each comes with a USB-C to Lightning cable.

USB-C to Lightning cables and power adapters can be used with the 2018 iPad Pro and to fast charge the iPhone 8 and newer.

Last month, Apple informed members of its Made for iPhone program that third-party Lightning to USB-C cables are now permitted to be manufactured, and we're now seeing the first options from Griffin and Belkin and likely others.

The cables and power adapters will be available on Griffin's website.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Griffin. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission, which helps us keep the site running.



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One Analyst Thinks the Next iPhone Will Have a USB-C Port, Smaller Notch, and Touch ID Under Display

At least one new iPhone released in 2019 will sport a USB-C port, smaller notch, and the return of Touch ID under the display, according to Jean Baptiste Su, Vice-President and Principal Analyst at consulting firm Atherton Research.


Su shared his prediction in a Forbes column about Apple lowering its revenue guidance for the first quarter of its 2019 fiscal year:
Although we believe that Apple will release a re-designed iPhone X in 2019—with a smaller notch, a fingerprint reader (Touch ID) under the display, and a USB-C port—it will still lack the extensibility (memory card), the battery life, the lightning-fast charging capability, and the camera quality of Android flagship smartphones while being more expensive.
This is the first Apple rumor we've ever heard from Su, and the Forbes contributor network has published its fair share of questionable content about Apple in recent years, so treat this rumor with a healthy dose of skepticism. Many analysts not named Ming-Chi Kuo simply make guesses — and not always educated ones.

Let's imagine these features prove to be true, though, and examine what that would mean for the next iPhone:
  • USB-C: For many years, critics believed Apple would never switch to USB-C on its iOS devices, and then it did exactly that with the 2018 iPad Pro. Will the iPhone follow suit this year? Notorious supply chain publication DigiTimes seems to think so, so Su is not alone in his prediction.

    With many of the latest Macs equipped with USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports, which share the USB-C connector design, moving from Lightning to USB-C on the iPhone would create one primary I/O standard across not only Apple devices but hundreds of other electronics.

    The switch from Lightning to USB-C would almost certainly cause an uproar among at least some Apple customers, who already had to replace their docks, cables, and other accessories when Apple switched from its 30-pin dock connector to Lightning back in 2012.

    It's also worth considering that Apple has emphasized a wireless future, so one possibility is that the Lightning connector sticks around until there is no connector whatsoever.

  • Touch ID under the display: This one is hard to believe. Face ID is more secure than Touch ID and seems like Apple's authentication method of choice going forward, starting with the iPhone X and expanding to the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR last year.

    Kuo agrees, noting that Apple doesn't plan to return to Touch ID in any capacity with its 2019 iPhone lineup back in September.

  • Smaller notch: This one is certainly plausible. As the iPhone design continues to evolve, Apple will surely find ways to reduce the size of the notch, even if only by a fraction of a millimeter.

It's only January, so we're still early in the rumor cycle about 2019 iPhones. Over time, we should get a clearer picture about what to expect from more reputable sources like Kuo. To date, we've heard the next versions could feature a triple-lens rear camera, Face ID improvements, slightly thinner displays, and more.

Related Roundup: 2019 iPhones

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USB-C Authentication Program Launches to Offer Future Protection Against Malicious Hardware

The USB Implementers Forum today announced the launch of a USB Type-C Authentication program, which is designed to create a cryptographic-based authentication definition for USB-C chargers and devices.

This is important because USB-C Authentication will provide protection from malicious firmware/hardware in USB-C devices. There are multiple USB-based attacks that are out in the wild and are able to do things like keystroke injection, installing backdoors, emulating mouse movements, logging data, hijacking traffic, infecting machines with viruses, and more.


In addition to protecting against malicious hardware, the program will keep host systems safe from non-compliant USB chargers that could potentially cause harm.

With the USB-C Authentication protocol, host machines will be able to confirm the authenticity of a USB-C device, cable, or charger. This confirmation happens right when a connection is made before inappropriate power or data can be transferred.

The USB-IF has outlined the characteristics of the USB-Type-C Authentication Program:

  • A standard protocol for authenticating certified USB Type-C chargers, devices, cables and power sources

  • Support for authenticating over either USB data bus or USB Power Delivery communications channels

  • Products that use the authentication protocol retain control over the security policies to be implemented and enforced

  • Relies on 128-bit security for all cryptographic methods

  • Specification references existing internationally-accepted cryptographic methods for certificate format, digital signing, hash and random number generation


Manufacturers who create devices that use USB-C will be able to implement the new authentication protocol into their devices to protect consumers. There is no requirement to implement support for USB-C authentication at this time, with protocol provided as an option to OEMs.

Though Apple has not commented on the release of the program, the Cupertino company will likely be one of the companies to adopt USB-C authentication protocols in the future given its focus on security.

Tag: USB-C

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Satechi’s USB-C Hubs Now Available in Gold to Match New MacBook Air

Satechi today announced that three of its USB-C hubs are now available to pre-order in a gold color that resembles the finish of the latest MacBook Air.

  • Slim USB-C Multi-Port Adapter V2 - $69.99: 4K HDMI, SD and microSD card readers, one USB-C port with Power Delivery, and two USB-A ports. Plug-and-play with 2015 and newer MacBook, 2016 and newer MacBook Pro, 2018 MacBook Air, and 2018 iPad Pro.
  • USB-C Multi-Port Adapter 4K With Ethernet V2 - $89.99: 4K HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, SD and microSD card readers, one USB-C port with Power Delivery, and three USB-A ports. Plug-and-play with 2015 and newer MacBook, 2016 and newer MacBook Pro, 2018 MacBook Air, and 2018 iPad Pro.
  • USB-C Pro Hub Adapter - $99.99: 4K HDMI, SD and microSD card readers, one USB-C port with Power Delivery, one USB-C port, and two USB-A ports. Plug-and-play with 2016 and newer MacBook Pro and 2018 MacBook Air.
This is purely a cosmetic change, with pricing and functionality of the USB-C hubs unchanged compared to the existing silver and space gray variants. Orders will begin to ship in January, according to the accessory maker.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Satechi. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Tags: USB-C, Satechi

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Apple-Certified Third-Party Lightning to USB-C Cables Expected Early Next Year

Apple-certified Lightning to USB-C cables should be available from select third-party accessory makers starting early next year.


Last week, Apple informed members of its Made for iPhone or "MFi" licensing program that Lightning to USB-C cables for charging and syncing are now permitted to be manufactured. These cables require a new Lightning connector with part number C94, which Made for iPhone program members can now order.

Apple is selling the new Lightning connector to eligible hardware manufacturers for $2.88 per, and it is estimated to ship in six weeks, according to documentation shared with MacRumors by Hong Kong website ChargerLab.



This means that third-party accessory makers enrolled in the Made for iPhone program, such as Anker, Aukey, Belkin, and Incipio, should have the part necessary to create MFi-certified Lightning to USB-C cables by mid-January and, allowing time for production, could be available to purchase by February or March.

A Lightning to USB-C cable is required to fast charge the iPhone 8 and newer with an 18W-plus power adapter. Otherwise, the new C94 connector is expected to provide a maximum of 15W of power with a standard power adapter.

Apple is currently the only retailer of certified Lightning to USB-C cables at a cost of $19 for the one-meter option and $35 for two-meters in the United States. The one-meter cable was originally $25, but it received a price cut in November 2016 alongside some of Apple's other USB-C adapters and cables.

The biggest advantage to third-party Lightning to USB-C cables is that many will likely be significantly less expensive than Apple's own, while still meeting Apple performance standards under the Made for iPhone program. Many third-party options will likely have more durable designs too, such as a braided cable.

Apple first informed its Made for iPhone program members about its plans to allow third-party Lightning to USB-C cables earlier this year.


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