Be Careful With Certain USB Type C Cables

Be Careful With Certain USB Type C Cables

Be Careful With Certain USB Type C Cables found online. Google Engineer Benson Leung best known for his very thorough Amazon reviews of almost every single USB Type ‘C’ cable. OnePlus recently came under scrutiny for their poor cables they included with their devices as well as sold individually after Benson called out their cables poor design and the possibility to cause damage.

Benson recently purchased a Type C cable from Amazon by SurjTech and it actually caused permanent damage to his new Google Pixel C tablet. The product not only damages your device, but it’s totally missing functionality that was advertised with the product.

Benson’s Amazon Review

Hi Benson here doing another USB Type-C legacy cable review. This one will probably be the last one I do for a little while because this cable (1-star review score, straight off) seriously damaged the laptop computer I am using for these reviews, a Chromebook Pixel 2015, and two USB PD Sniffer devices (Twinkie).

I plugged this cable into the twinkie (as a pass through) and my Chromebook Pixel 2015 and the A end into a 1st party Apple 12W iPad charger.

Twinkie’s current and voltage measurement command (tw vbus) failed immediately after plugging this cable with the adapter into it. This is permanent damage. I tried resetting the Twinkie analyzer and having the firmware reflashed, but it continues to exhibit this failure. It is no longer able to use its voltage and current measurement capability on the Vbus line.

On my Pixel, both USB Type-C ports stopped responding immediately. Neither would charge or act as a host when I plugged in a USB device such as an ethernet adapter. Upon rebooting my Pixel, the system came up in recovery mode because it could not verify the Embedded Controller on the system. No amount of software recovery could revive the EC. Upon closer analysis, serious damage has been done to components related to charging and managing the USB Type-C port’s capabilities.

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.

Needless to say, this cable is fundamentally dangerous. Do not buy this under any circumstances. I will be contacting Surjtech directly shortly.

Benson’s follow up


Here are some pictures of the torn down SurjTech 3M cable that fried my Pixel.

Visual observations :
1. Red wire to G. Black wire to V. So wrong.
2. Missing SuperSpeed wires on the back of the connector. Only 4 wires in total. This cable was advertised as a USB 3.1 SuperSpeed cable but is entirely missing the TX/RX
3. Generally a poor job with the soldering of the wires.

Other observations using a multimeter :
1) 10 kΩ resistor instead of 56 kΩ resistor used.
2) resistor hooked up as a Pull-down instead of a pull-up

The moral of the story here is to be very careful when purchasing any type of cable from any retailer, check the reviews and be sure to see if their a reputable manufacturer. You can follow Benson’s Type ‘C’ cable adventures here.

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