We’re going to explain what a USB 3.0 is and the differences between USB 2.0 and what you gain or lose by using one or the other. In this way, users with less knowledge will be able to learn to differentiate them, while more advanced users will be able to have some figures and technical data.

We will focus on the round versions, 2.0 and 3.0. There are many versions of the USB standard, and 3.0 has successors like 3.1 or 3.2. But we will focus on the main ones since they are the most common and the ones that come to mind for almost everyone.

What is USB 3.0

The USB or Universal Serial Bus is a standard developed in the 90s, and it defines the cables, connectors and communication protocols used in this port or interface to communicate computers, peripherals, and devices as well as to provide them with power supply. It is a Plug & Play port, which means that just by connecting it, it is automatically activated.

Thanks to this type of port, which is colloquially referred to as simply USB, information can be transferred from one device to another. They can also be used for recharging or keeping them connected and with constant power supply without the need for any additional adapters or chargers.

Over the decades, the standard has been improved with new updated versions with more features. When we talk about a USB 2.0 or 3.0, the numbers after the acronym are those that indicate the version number of the standard.

The official release of this standard was in 1996, although it had already been developed with preliminary versions for two years. After that first version 1.0, and after the release shortly after 1.1, in 2000 the new USB 2.0 version was released, and in 2008 came the 3.0 version. As it happens in almost every aspect, each version has been providing new improvements that exceeded the capabilities of the previous one.

So, USB 3.0 is one of the last big versions of this standard that is on the market right now, and it has the subversions USB 3.1 and the future USB 3.2. These two variations or occasional updates use a reversible C-type connector, the first of which you can already see in many devices, and the second will reach the first peripherals during this 2020.

USB connectors

Finally, as we explained in the picture above, it can be said that USB has several types of connectors: The first USB standards used virtually all, although the USB 3.0 you will find it with Type A, Type B and Micro-B connectors. However, the most common, which we can identify as “those of a lifetime”, is the Type A.

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USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0

USB 2.0USB 3.0
RELEASE DATE20002008
TRANSFER ADDRESSUnilateral, or send or receive informationBilateral, you can send and receive information at the same time
TRANSFER SPEEDUp to 480 Mbit / s (60 MB / s)Up to 4.8 Gbit / s (600 MB / s)
ENERGY SUPPLYUp to 500 mAUp to 900 mA
LINES IN THE CABLEFourNine
TYPE A CONNECTOR COLORGrayblue
CONNECTOR TYPESType A, Type B, Mini A, Mini B, Micro A, Micro B.Type A, Type B, Micro B

In this table above you have the main differences between USB 2.0 and 3.0. The most notable is the speed, as with its five extra cable lines, it is capable of transmitting data at maximum speeds 10 times faster than USB 2.0. However, it should be noted that the speeds are the maximum, and that depends on many things that are achieved or not. Generally, transmissions are slower.

There are also important differences in the power they can supply when a device is connected to them for charging. USB 2.0 ports can supply up to 500 mA, while USB 3.0 ports offer up to 900 mA. This means that your mobile phones or other devices can be charged much faster.

A USB 2.0 has one-sided communication, which means that when you connect them they can either send information or receive it. However, these changes in USB 3.0, which can send and receive information at the same time.

USB Connector

Identifying them is easy, even on seemingly identical type A ports, because of the connector on USB 3.0 type A usually has a very distinctive blue tab. As for types B and Micro-B, they have physical differences that make them easily identifiable.

USB 3.0 is compatible with USB 2.0 devices. However, it should be noted that they will always work at the same maximum level as 2.0, which may limit their speed and the energy they transmit.

With the type A connectors there is no problem, they are compatible with each other, but the connectors of the USB 3.0 type B and MicroUSB 3.0 are different from those of the USB 2.0. This means that you will have to use an adapter to be able to use the 3.0 in the 2.0, and always making that the capacities are limited to those of the 2.0.

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