The Danger of Inexpensive USB Cables


A few weeks ago, I posted a blog article about Benson Leung, a Google employee and engineer who was inspecting USB Type-C cables on Amazon for correct implementation. Well, it looks like his inspection of USB cables (which, on the surface, seems a bit boring and and maybe even obsessive) is needed, since apparently an incorrectly-wired cable ruined his testing equipment and his $1,500 Google Pixel 2 laptop.

The cable in question was apparently this model, made by SurjTech. According to Benson’s Amazon review:

I directly analyzed the Surjtech cable using a Type-C breakout board and a multimeter, and it appears that they completely miswired the cable. The GND pin on the Type-A plug is tied to the Vbus pins on the Type-C plug. The Vbus pin on the Type-A plug is tied to GND on the Type-C plug.

This is a total recipie for disaster and I have 3 pieces of electronics dead to show for it, my Pixel 2015, and two USB PD analyzers.

I think it goes without saying that he gave the cable one star.

Let this be a warning to all – when you’re shopping for USB charging cables, buying reputable brands can (sometimes) be a worthwhile purchase over the cheapest option! I’m personally partial to the AmazonBasics line of cables and electronics – they aren’t the cheapest, but I’ve never had a customer service problem with Amazon that wasn’t easily and quickly resolved.


About Colin Dorman

Colin is a freelance horn player and teacher, as well as a fan of tech of all sorts, aviation, and increasingly complex flight simulators. He also enjoys beer, bourbon and fitness - but not at the same time. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, as well as right here at ColinDorman.com!