Types of USB Cables

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Multiple USBs

Universal Serial Bus (USB) was invented in the 1990s in order to simplify and standardize the connections between devices and computers. USB cables have become widely used because of their low cost of implementation, near universal compatibility, and simplicity of use. The vast majority of computers manufactured today include at least two USB ports, and these USB plugins are compatible with most cameras, modems, printers, and portable storage devices.

USB standards were created and regulated by the industrial body known as the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). With its initial mandate, USB-IF established two connector types: A and B. Due to changes in demand and specifications of manufacturers, there have been a number of connector additions. Below is a breakdown of some of the most widely used USB connector interfaces.

A-Style Connector

Located on host hubs and computers, the A-style connector has a commonly used rectangular, flat interface. This interface keeps the connection in place through the use of friction that allows users to connect and disconnect with ease.

As opposed to using round pins, this connector utilizes flat contacts that can handle constant attachment and removal quite effectively. The A-style connector gives a downstream connection that is used exclusively on host hubs and controllers. This format of connector is not utilized as upstream connectors on peripheral devices because the host hub emits 5V DC power through the USB pins.

Never connect an A-A cable between two computers, as it might cause permanent damage to your computers or even start a fire. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations before you attempt any unconventional connections.

B-Style Connector

Most B-style connectors are intended for use only on USB peripheral devices. The B-style connector has partially beveled corners at the top part of the connector and is square in shape. Similar to the A-style connector, the B-style connector utilizes friction between the connector bodies in order to maintain its position. The B-socket uses an upstream connector that is typically utilized on peripheral devices. As a result, most USB applications necessitate an A-B cable.

One of biggest disadvantages to the B-style connector is the size, which comes out to about half an inch on both sides. Therefore, the B-style interface is unusable for most small electronic devices. As a result of the size limitations of the B-style connector, device manufacturers began miniaturizing USB connectors.

C-Style Connector

The USB C-style connector is the most recent USB innovation available on the market. It has a symmetrical/reversible design that can be input into any USB-C device using both ends. The USB-C cable is able to support USB 3.0, USB 3.1, USB 1.1, and USB 2.0 signals. Most commonly, USB-Cs are matched up with USB-B, USB-A, USB Micro-B, and a number of other previous versions of USB specifications.

USB-C cables allow for data transfer rates that are double the speed of existing USB technology. In addition, they enable increased power delivery of up to 20 volts, 5 amps, and 100 watts for charging and power, in addition to a built-in capacity for DisplayPort video.

Micro-USB A

This connection is located on the newer mobile devices, including GPS units, PDAs, cell phones, and digital cameras. Micro-USB A provides a connection that is smaller in size in comparison to the USB Mini-B. Micro-USB A has a high-speed transfer rate of 480 Mbps and supports On-The-Go features. On-The-Go enables peripheral devices to communicate if the host controller is present. Most Micro-USB A cables have a white-colored receptacle.

Micro-USB B

Similar to the Micro-USB A, Micro-USB B cables are located on the newest mobile devices. Micro-USB B supports high-speed transfer rates of 480 Mbps and On-The-Go features. Micro-USB B provides a connection that is smaller in size when compared to the USB Mini-B. The Micro-USB B cable can be quickly identified due to its smaller 5-pin design and its black-colored receptacle.

Micro-USB AB

Intended for USB On-The-Go devices, this connector is compatible with both Micro-USB A and Micro-USB B cable connectors. You can quickly identify this interface due to its compact 5-pin style and gray-colored receptacle. This connector type only functions as an input for On-The-Go devices.


The most popular variation of Mini-B connector is the 5-pin style. The 5-pin format is the only Mini-B style recognized by the USB-IF. This type of connector is very miniature, with the size of around two-thirds the width of an A-style connector. Mini-B connectors are also compatible with On-The-Go.

Final Thoughts

It is important to understand all of the different kinds of USB connectors so that you can be best equipped when you have to determine the correct plugin. Locate a reputable dealer of USB cables to avoid any damage to your electronics. Use this helpful guide to each type of USB cable, and you will be able to avoid all of the headaches associated with mismatched USB connectors.