3 Future Trends in USB Power Delivery: The Market Trends You Should Prepare For Now

2024 March 5

Between backward compatibility and future-proofing, working with technology sometimes feels like it requires both a history degree and a crystal ball.

But predicting the future of USB power delivery technology isn't a guessing game. Here at Acroname, we've noticed some clear trends in where the industry is headed.

Today, we're sharing three market trends in USB PD that we predict will only continue to become more and more prevalent.

USB-C Ports Will Become More and More Common

There's no question: USB-C is becoming ubiquitous. With each product iteration, we’re seeing more USB-C ports. It’s becoming extremely rare to see a new device launch with micro-USB, or anything but USB type-C.

Apple’s switch to USB-C from Lightning is adding a wave of new users as the upgrade cycle advances.

With the European Union mandating in 2022 that many devices sold within its borders have USB-C by the end of 2024, it wouldn't make much sense for companies to choose other USB standards and still expect to compete for global market share. So this is one trend we expect to see continue for the foreseeable future.

Future Power Delivery Ranges: Very Low to Very High

USB-C is becoming the default charging port for low-power devices. That's beginning to hold true even on very inexpensive products, usually without USB-PD and operating at 5V and up to 3A. 

We’re already seeing small items, like toys and pencil sharpeners, beginning to be chargeable via USB-C. (That's right: You might soon have kids asking you to borrow your phone charger to charge up their light-up knick-knacks and doodads.)

But what about at the other end of the spectrum?

At the high power end, it is already common for many laptops to ship with USB-C charging ports.  Under the USB PD specification, power was limited to 100W (20V at 5A).  But USB PD Revision 3.1 added Extended Power Range (EPR), 28V, 36V, and 48V modes at the same 5A for up to 240W.

At the moment,  just a few devices, such as the 2023 Apple 16-inch Macbook Pro, use EPR for higher powers (140W when using a 240W cable). However, we predict that this will be a growing group of products in the years to come. We're personally excited to see more top-of-the-line laptops with Extended Power Range capabilities.  

Stop for a moment and consider the impact of this wider range in charging technology. Rather than having a tangle of chargers for your various devices, if everything has a USB-C port, no matter the level of power it needs, then you suddenly have much more flexibility around chargers and charging, but only if the charger is up to the task.

Smaller, Cooler GaN Chargers Will Get Cheaper 

Gallium Nitride (GaN)-based chargers are smaller and run cooler than traditional silicon-based chargers, safely enabling more power in a smaller package.

Gallium Nitride is a semiconductor material that can be used in place of silicon in transistors. GaN transistors are faster, smaller, and use less power than silicon transistors, which means that the chargers will charge faster, are smaller, and generate less heat than their traditional silicon-based counterparts.

Unlike big, bulky chargers, GaN-based chargers are small, light, and easy to carry around. They can deliver enough power for larger devices, such as laptops, in a portable package.

GaN chargers used to be much more expensive, but the premium has shrunk considerably in the past two years. This makes it possible to bring a single multi-port charger on a trip with enough power to charge  a laptop, phone, and a tablet — not to mention the ever-growing set of low-power devices. 

We're excited to see this kind of powerful charging technology become more accessible to a greater share of the market. We expect to see costs continue to fall and GaN chargers continue to increase in prevalence.

Conclusion: USB Trends to Keep an Eye On

We've highlighted three trends that we expect to see continue to grow. Keep an eye out for USB-C ports to continue to proliferate, power range of devices using USB-C to increase, and GaN chargers to become available to a wider audience.

Take the next step and combine these three trends, and we predict you'll see more mobile, agile charging applications becoming the norm.

More USB-C ports on devices + more range in the devices receiving USB-C ports + smaller, lighter, less expensive chargers = a more convenient, more universal charging experience driven by USB-C and GaN charging technology.

By keeping tabs on market research, you can anticipate where technology is headed and stay a step ahead of technical needs and requirements. At the very least, it gives you an edge against those who stay stuck in the past. You don't want to get caught by surprise with a ton of micro-USB devices that are increasingly incompatible with modern chargers, for example.

Besides, most of us in this industry are naturally interested in these kinds of innovations and unfolding trends, even if the daily grind makes it easy to lose sight of that sometimes.

We hope you enjoyed our top 3 predictions for USB power delivery technology!

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