What is USB-C, the charging socket that replaced Apple’s Lightning cable?


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(AP) — Bye, Lightning cable. Hello, USB-C.

Apple is ditching its in-house iPhone charging plug and falling in line with the rest of the tech industry by adopting a more widely used connection standard. A big part of the reason is a European Union common charging rule that’s coming soon for the 27-nation bloc.

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Here’s a look at the USB-C plug and what it means for consumers:

The first part of the acronym stands for Universal Serial Bus, and it replaces earlier versions of the USB cables used on everything from printers and hard drives to computer mice and Kindle readers.

The USB-C plug comes in a different shape than its predecessors — an elongated oval. It’s also symmetrical and reversible, which eliminates one of the common gripes about previous versions like the rectangular USB-A connectors because there’s no wrong way to plug it in.

USB-C cables can carry more power so laptops can be charged faster, and they enable faster data transfer speeds, allowing a big trove of files to be copied from a computer to an external hard drive. At the same time, they can pump out a video signal to a monitor and supply power to connected accessories.

The USB-C connector also is designed to be future-proof. Its shape won’t change but newer versions — and the devices they connect to — will come with upgraded capabilities. That means users will have to beware because older devices might not be able to support the latest specs.

It’s also slimmer than boxy USB-A plugs, making them a better fit for newer devices that keep getting smaller.

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Apple has long championed its proprietary Lightning connector for iPhones even though pretty much no one else used it. It resisted the EU’s common charging push, citing worries that it would limit innovation and end up hurting consumers.

Apple held out even as others started adding USB-C connectors into their devices. But after the EU proposal won a key approval last year, the U.S. tech giant gave in and didn’t…