Understanding USB cable Types

Understanding USB cable Types


Computers and electronic devices have some form of USB connection, and many devices also come packaged with a USB cable. What are all these different cables for and does it matter which one you use?

For now, yes it does matter. This may change in the near future.

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard developed in the mid-1990s to standardize the connection of computer peripherals to computers. It replaced a number of earlier interfaces and is now the most popular connector type for consumer devices.

Here’s everything you need to know about the USB standard in terms of cable availability.

The Types of USB

USB is universal but it do have types with some different functionalities.Here are the most common types of USB.

Type-A: Most cables have a type-A connector on one end, most peripherals (such as keyboards and mice) have a type-A connector, personal computers usually have multiple type-A ports, and many other devices and power adapters use a type-A port for data transfers and/or charging.

Type-B: An almost square connector, mostly used for printers and other powered devices that connect to a computer. They’re much less common than type-A these days so we’re not going to worry about them here.


Mini-USB: The standard connector type for mobile devices before the micro-USB type came along. As its name suggests, mini-USB is smaller than regular USB, and is still used in some cameras that have non-standard connectors.

Micro-USB: The current standard for mobile and portable devices. It has been adopted by virtually every manufacturer except Apple.

Type-C: A reversible cable that promises higher transfer rates and more power than previous USB types. It’s increasingly being adopted as the standard for laptops and even some phones and tablets. It has even been embraced by Apple for Thunderbolt 3. Thunderbolt 3 may just be the only device cable you need to know about anymore. It’s so awesome that it’s making everything else obsolete. Even new macbook is now using type-c. 

Lightning: Not a USB standard but Apple’s proprietary connector for iPads and iPhones. It’s a similar size to micro-USB and is compatible with all Apple devices. Older Apple devices use a different and much larger proprietary connector.

USB 3: The latest USB standard offers faster transfer rates and is, for the most part, backwards-compatible with earlier versions of USB. Standard-A connectors are identical to the Type-A connectors of previous versions, but are usually colored blue to distinguish them. They are fully backwards-compatible but the increased speeds are only available when all components are USB 3 compatible. USB 3 Standard-B and micro versions have extra pins to allow the increased transfer speeds, and are therefore not compatible with previous versions. Older Type-B and micro-B cables can be used in USB 3 ports but won’t get the increased speed. I got to see this type in my external hard disk where speed is more priority.




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