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Amazon tightens up rules on USB Type-C cables after Google engineer’s criticisms

At Google, Benson Leung serves as a senior software engineer, aiding in the development of both the Chromebook Pixel and the forthcoming Pixel C. In his spare time, however, Benson is an Amazon reviewer focused on exposing “bad” USB Type-C cables.

Since both Chromebook teams he’s a part of make use of the emerging connection standard, it frustrated Leung when he realized most of the third-party solutions failed to meet official USB Type-C specs. This means many of the cable options available for purchase online might not be able to charge your devices. Even more alarming is that some of them could damage your charger, USB hub, or computer.

Projecting his dissatisfaction with the trend, Benson has decided to start ordering some of these potentially destructive cables off Amazon for the purpose of review.

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“I have started reviewing USB cables on Amazon,” Leung wrote in a post on Google+. “Because I have gotten fed up with the early cables from 3rd party vendors that so blatantly flaunt the specification and I want to hold them to task.”

If you’re using a cable or an adapter you obtained from the same maker as your USB Type-C-equipped PC, you should be fine. However, if you’re trying to save a few bucks in the search of a third-party replacement cable, you may want to check with Benson Leung. Among his reviews, you’ll find positive reception to both FRiEQ, Belkin, and iOrange-E, though everything else was marked down for not meeting the specification’s requirement (however, on an unrelated note, Leung is a huge fan of The Orange Box soundtrack).

Interestingly enough, Leung wasn’t able to submit his thoughts on the $5 USB-C cable offered by OnePlus since it’s not sold by Amazon. He does make note, however, that the OnePlus cable does not comply with USB Type-C specifications.

“The One+ cables,” he writes, “Despite ostensibly being from a 1st party phone maker, are out of spec. They use an incorrect 3A configuration as well.”

After being alerted of the pervasive deluge of USB Type-C connectors infiltrating its marketplace, Amazon has issued an update to its “Restricted Products” list, adding USB Type-C cables that don’t adhere to the standards of the USB Implementers forum.

More specifically, the new listing prohibits “Any USB-C (or USB Type-C) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by ‘USB Implementers Forum Inc.'”

Clearly there’s a problem with aftermarket USB Type-C cables, and with the standard becoming increasingly more common, it’s hard to know who to trust. Fortunately, we have everyday heroes like Leung who take the responsibility into their own hands.

Updated on 03-30-2016 by Gabe Carey: Added details of Amazon’s update to its Restricted Products list.

Article originally published on 11-04-2015