If you want a glimpse at the future of smartphones, take a look at the sequel to the hottest Android phone of 2014, the OnePlus 2.
The OnePlus 2, which is made by the Chinese startup OnePlus, has a new type of port you won’t find in any other Android phone today. It’s called USB-C, and it’s a new standard plug that major companies like Apple and Google have started using in their products.
USB-C can do it all: It’s a charger, port for accessories, and it can connect to monitors for video output.
But USB-C is still in its infancy. We have yet to see it in a major smartphone until now.
Carl Pei, the co-founder of OnePlus, told Tech Insider in an interview that the company chose to use USB-C in the OnePlus 2 because it wants to push the technology forward. It may not widely used today, but it will be in the next few years. OnePlus is already ahead of everyone else.
What is USB-C?
In a nutshell, USB-C is a new standard for charging and connecting devices like phones, tablets, computers, and TVs to each other that will (hopefully) replace regular, mini, and microUSB entirely.
It has no up/down orientation, which means it can plug into a USB-C port on your device in any direction, like you would with the iPhone’s Lightning cable and connector.
Unlike the USB cables and connectors we’ve been using so far, USB-C cables have the same size connector on each end of the cable, and you can attach a variety of adapters to either end, like HDMI, or even regular USB.
It charges your devices faster, it transfers data like music, photos, and videos between devices faster, and it’s more convenient because you’ll be able to charge your computer, phones, and other portable devices with the same cable and chargers.
The USB cables and connectors we’ve been using are fine, but tech companies aren’t going to settle at “good enough” and call it a day. They’re going to find ways to improve on the last innovation, and USB-C is the next evolution for USB. So there’s little doubt that USB-C is the future.
Seems like a no-brainer. So why don’t other phones from this year have USB-C?
Surprisingly, Pei brought up a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session held by Rob Rhinehart, the CEO and founder behind the powdered meal replacement called “Soylent,” to help answer that.
During the AMA, Rhinehart was asked why he makes his recipe openly available to the public, and why he wasn’t afraid of copycats. According to Pei, Rhinehart said he “doesn’t really care, and that he wants the future to happen.”
“Everyone could have made it work,” Pei said, referring to USB-C. “It’s just whether or not they’re willing to take the risk.”
There is a risk. If you get a OnePlus 2, you’re likely to have only one cable to charge it because none of your other devices use USB-C.
But that’s what happens with most new standards. Just take Apple and its introduction of the Lightning cable with the iPhone 5 in 2012. No one had a Lightning cable when the iPhone 5 first came out, but you’re now pretty much guaranteed to find one in almost every household.
The same thing will probably happen with USB-C, especially since it can be used with a much wider range of products, including Apple products. So far, Apple’s new MacBook and Google’s new Chromebook Pixel are the only two mainstream devices using USB-C.
For now, OnePlus will be offering USB-C cables at cost, meaning it doesn’t want to put people off USB-C with expensive cables and adapters.
OnePlus may be the first major smartphone to use USB-C, but you can bet other major phone companies will follow. In June, Google announced that it’s adding extra support for Android devices with USB-C. It’s clearly the future.
NOW WATCH: Watch how many people can’t walk on the street without having their phones in their hands
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.