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What is USB Power Delivery? Where already used?

Looking at a plug, a power supply and a USB cable, you never wondered why this last connection could not be the only one to be used for everything? If you ever thought about it, know that you weren't the only one. This is one of the goals of USB Power Delivery.

This term, USB Power Delivery, or its acronym USB-PD, should not be foreign to you. They have already appeared right here in the smartphone market, and it really promises to make life easier for many other markets, if only to get out of the concept.

Usually a USB cable is what we already know: mostly a data cable that, secondarily, also provides power. A USB 3.0 port can deliver 10 Watts, which may be enough to quickly charge some smartphones. But not nearly enough for smartphones with sturdier batteries or gadgets like laptops, monitors and more.

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Anker PowerPort + 5 Desktop Charger features Power Delivery / AndroidPIT

But the USB business consortium, USB IF, realized how popular the USB port has become, present in almost everything we have in electronics today, and understood the need to power powerful equipment. From there came the USB-PD, which kind of reverses the situation of the usual USB cab.

USB Power Delivery means, in Portuguese, something like Power Distribution via USB, and you already get the point. USB-PD technology turns this cable, this connection, into a true power supply, just like what traditional outside cables, sockets and sources do. With it, the USB port can deliver up to 100W. Another thing, no?

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USB-C next to a Lightning connection / AndroidPIT

With this, it is possible not only to deliver faster smartphone charging speeds, but also to retire power supplies, wall chargers and others.

One of the advantages is more reliable equipment, less chance of using low quality cables and accessories. Another good news comes from the energy saving itself. While the cables and ports we have today need to convert AC power from the power grid to direct current (DC), USB-PD reduces power consumption by delivering direct current at the voltage needed to the connected device, saving energy. in decreasing heat loss

USB Power Delivery May Be Better Than Qualcomm Quick Charge

Another peculiarity of this technology is its reversibility. If you connect a low-charging smartphone to a notebook using USB-PD, for example, the notebook will recharge the smartphone. But if the battery of the notebook runs out, the smartphone who can recharge the notebook. It is also possible, for example, for a monitor to recharge a notebook to which it is connected.

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USB Power Delivery delivers variable power according to device / AndroidPIT

Finally, it is clear that USB-PD is a "jack of all trades" since it is still a data connection port, but also high in power. To ensure safety, it optimizes power management across multiple peripherals, allowing each device to receive only the power it needs and get more power when needed for a given application.

And where does the USB-PD already used?

Although it is not super popular yet, you may have seen some devices working with USB-PD. A good example is Google's Pixel 2 and 3, or Apple's newest MacBooks, as well as Chromebooks. If you notice, they still use chargers and power supplies, but always with a USB-C cable at both ends.

Even the newest iPhones have USB-PD support, although they need a cable that is USB-C / Lightning. Other famous handsets with the technology are the Essential Phone and even the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S8, which although Quick Charge, are also USB-PD compatible. Many gadgets are already coming out with this double bracket.

This brings one more advantage, that the unification of several connection models. In the case of a new MacBook, all of its connections are USB-C, and the market is slowly adapting, offering USB-C external hard drives, USB-C monitors, USB-C printers and other accessories, eliminating the need of several different cables such as HDMI, USB 3.0, microUSB and others.

There is a competitor

Although more niche, specifically in the smartphone world, we have Qualcomm's Quick Charge presence as a major competitor, preventing USB-PD from spreading further into one of the most popular markets.

quick charge devices
Qualcomm Quick Charge dominates the smartphone market / AndroidPIT

It takes Qualcomm chips for Quick Charge to work, and that leaves this other fast charging technology stuck to portable gadgets like smartphones and at most computers. But precisely in this area where USB-PD could run wild, it loses a lot of ground as Qualcomm dominates Android smartphones in the market.

Starting with Android Nougat 7, Google has put a strong recommendation on its documents for manufacturers not to use proprietary standards like Quick Charge. Although no one has heard much about it, some devices already have both formats.

Do you think USB-PD will still be the standard one day?

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