Since the launch of USB-C, there’s been a lot of ‘dodgy’ cables going on-sale. Unsafe USB-C cables are able to draw higher amounts of power and possibly damage equipment. Amazon has now implemented a change to their prohibited items list, which will make it eventually a safer place to source USB-C cables.
Google Engineer Benson Leung first highlighted the problem with buying USB-C cables, reviewing the various USB-C cables available on Amazon and drawing attention to the issue. In one of his original review, he explained the issue with USB-A to USB-C cables not made to spec:
The reason that the Google chargers and cables are capable of 5V 3A support is because not only the cables but the port on the other end is certified for the higher 3A ceiling. You will notice that the cable that came with your Nexus 5X or 6P has USB Type C on both ends.
This ensures that not only the cable, but the connectors and the charging circuitry on the other side of the cable can support 3A before the phone starts to charge.
When you have a legacy cable like this one, the connector on the other side is a USB Type-A connector, which can be plugged into any USB port built since 1997, for example your ancient Pentium II PC may have a USB port that this cable could be plugged into.
NONE of those USB Type-A ports are rated to support 3A, so many of the USB Type-A to Type-C cables available on Amazon that claim they are rated at 3A and configure the identifier resistor to tell the phone to charge at 3A are not in compliance and could do damage to your charger, hub, or PC if you try to charge at 3A.
When you have a legacy cable like this, 2.4A, which is negotiated over a BC1.2 protocol like CDP or DCP, is appropriate over the Type-A connector. Any cable that you buy that claims 3A support I would be extremely wary of plugging into any of your hubs, PCs, or dedicated chargers.
That update came through back in November and now, almost 5 months later, Amazon has updated their list of Prohibited Items to include USB-C cables or adapters not made to specifications. The line added to the list reads:
To report a listing to Amazon, you simply :
- Go to Contact us.
- Click Selling on Amazon and then Other issues.
- Select Report a violation and enter all relevant information, so we can conduct an investigation.
It’s a good move by Amazon, and one hopefully one adopted by other marketplaces selling USB-C cables and adapters.
Have you bought a dodgy USB-C cable?