Not sure how to differentiate the different USB connectors?
The Universal Serial Bus or USB became the primary standard for connecting devices. From your chargers to two different devices, you may already know about the concept of USBs. In recent years, the standard USB port went through some changes.
Innovative laptops and smartphones have also upgraded their USB ports. The newer USB ports became a way to future-proof our devices. However, with so many types of USB connectors, it can be difficult to keep up.
Not sure what kind of USB connector you have?
This article covers the different kinds of USB connectors. Read on to discover more and identify your USB cable.
Kinds of USB Connectors
If you’re not tech-savvy, you may think that all USB connector types are the same. However, if you’re looking for a new cable or flash drive, you may end up buying the wrong type of device. Here are the different types of USB connectors that your laptop or smartphone may have.
The USB-A is the standard USB connector found at the end of most USB cables. This has a classic rectangular connector that you can only fit one way. You can find this on almost any desktop or laptop computer.
Many PC and laptop manufacturers, like Lenovo, have this port available. You can also find USB-A connectors on TVs, cars, and media and game systems. Here’s a list of devices that use USB-A.
• Gaming consoles like Xbox and PlayStation
• Most computers, laptop devices, and tablets
• DVD and Blu-ray CD players
• Computer peripheral accessories like keyboards and mice
• Memory sticks and flash drives
However, you won’t find a cable with a USB-A connector on both ends. Attempting to do this with two computers could damage both devices.
The USB-B connector is a dated connector. It’s rare to find a device that uses a USB-B connector these days. USB-B connectors are smaller and squarer than USB-A connectors.
You can often find ports for USB-B connectors on devices that you connect to a computer. This includes devices like printers and scanners. Some external devices that you have at home may have USB-B ports.
If you have a video projector with a USB-B port, you can use this to play videos. You may need to adjust the settings to ensure the projector receives the data. However, you may be better off with HDMI because of the limitations of USB-B.
A mini-USB connector is similar to the USB-A type connector. You can find this on mobile devices, but the micro-USB connector supersedes it. You can still find this USB connector on MP3 players, cameras, and similar devices.
You can find the micro-USB connector on almost all kinds of portable mobile devices. This is the most common USB port on Android phones and external battery packs. You may also find micro-USB connectors on BlueTooth headphones.
The USB-C type is becoming the new USB connector standard. Many mobile phone companies are replacing the micro-USB charger with a type C port. Huawei, Google Pixel devices, and the new Samsung Galaxy S9 have USB charging ports.
Apple is also catching up with this, seen on the newest MacBook and MacBook Pro models. Unlike USB-A connectors, you can use a USB-C connector on two devices with those ports. Here are some Mac devices that have USB-C ports.
• iMac Pro
• Mac Mini from 2018
• MacBook Air Retina from 2018, 13 inches
• MacBook Pro models from 2016 or later, and
• iMac models from 2017
If you’re familiar with USB-C, you may have heard of Thunderbolt. This hardware interface allows you to connect USB-C devices and transfer data faster. This also allows you to connect to high-resolution display devices.
However, not all USB-C ports are compatible with Thunderbolt 3. The MacBook’s USB-C port may not interact with Thunderbolt 3, but Pro models can. To find out if your USB-C port supports Thunderbolt, check your device’s specs.
The lightning cable is not like other conventional USB types. The proprietary lightning cable is exclusive to Apple mobile devices.
iPhone and iPad users can use their Lightning cables to a USB port. Apple users can use this to charge their devices or connect to a PC.
Data Transfer Speed
USB connectors offer several functions, but they may not all cables may offer them. Some USB connectors can deliver power or transfer data only. However, some cables can do both tasks. USB connectors may also come in various data transfer speed standards. Here are the different speed standards for transferring data.
The USB 1.0 is what kickstarted the USB era. Relative to our modern standards, USB 1.0 is ancient. This could only support USB-A and USB-B connectors and are no longer around today.
The USB industry upped its game in 2000 with the new 2.0 update. This new USB standard could transfer data faster than the first version. Many digital manufacturers were able to use this USB connector for more functions.
This was also when manufacturers introduced USB On-The-Go or OTG. This provides direct communication between two USB devices. You can connect a standard USB keyboard to an Android smartphone with an adapter.
Many budget flash drives still use USB 2.0. You may also find them on keyboards or mouse devices.
In 2008, developers launched the USB 3.0 series, followed by 3.1 and 3.2 later. This is the biggest upgrade in the USB industry. It offers exceptional transfer speeds, faster than the USB. 2.0.
USB 3.0 was the first to offer SuperSpeed capabilities. In 2013, developers introduced USB 3.1. This USB version was able to transfer data at the speeds that an ethernet cable could provide.
USB 3.2 is the latest in the market, introduced in 2017. This had a special design to accommodate USB-C cables. This also improved transfer speed, coining the term SuperSpeed+ later on.
You’ll recognize USB 3.0 connectors through the lightning bolt logo. You may also find cables and ports with blue coloring. USB 3.0 connectors are backward-compatible.
This means that you can plug a 3.0 cable into a 2.0 port. However, this will only give you the speed of USB 2.0.
High-end flash drives and external hard drives use USB 3.0. USB-C cables only use USB 3.0. However, for the micro-USB, you will need a special connector to gain USB 3.0 speeds.
This also applies to other older USB cable types. SuperSpeed USB 3.0 version can offer a transfer speed of 5 to 20 Gbps.
Power delivery standards for USB connectors and devices fall under three categories. This can be under power only, slow charge, and fast charge. To understand the power delivery standard, we’ll put it into perspective.
10W can slow charge your phone or iPad. 18W can fast charge mobile devices like your mobile phone or iPad. It can also power a Netbook or other similar notebook laptops.
USB 2.0 can only support 2.5W charging. On the other hand, USB 3.0 can charge your device at 4.5W.
USB PD is the most powerful in the market, delivering up to 100W power delivery. This can power monitors, MacBook Pro devices, docking stations, and even some TVs. This also offers fast-charging capabilities for phones or the Nintendo Switch.
Another great thing about PD is that it will only deliver the amount of power your device needs. You don’t have to worry about overcharging your devices and frying your batteries. Many new power bank models are beginning to support PD.
If you’re looking for fast video delivery speeds, look for a USB-C connector. You can use a USB-C connector instead of a VGA cable or HDMI to connect monitors. USB-C now supports 4k videos on larger screens.
Thunderbolt 4 cables are capable of displaying 4k video content on two monitors at once. You can also get 8k resolution on one monitor. While it may not be a priority for some people, this is a great way to future-proof your devices.
USB 4 was first announced in 2019, prepping the world for a new generation of USB types. Some may not have heard of USB 4, but it’s already making its appearance in some devices. This includes M1-based MacBooks by Apple and the Mac Mini.
The latest Intel 11 Gen Tiger laptops now also have USB 4. Manufacturers are not currently marketing USB 4 powered devices. However, you can expect this within the next year or so.
The USB 4 will only operate through a Type C connector. This is why many manufacturers are moving to USB-C type connectors and ports.
One of the biggest upgrades for the upcoming USB 4 is bandwidth sharing between data and videos. Tech developers refer to this feature as protocol tunneling.
With the USB 4, you can look forward to unlimited host support for USB PD. All USB 4 devices and hosts can now accommodate USB PD. This provides better power management and allows you to reach higher wattages.
Identify Your USB Connector With This Guide
Now you know how to identify your USB connector. USB-C is climbing its way to the mainstream market. Users now also have USB 4 to look forward to.
Looking for more updates on the USB 4 version? Check out our other blog posts, and keep up with the latest tech trends today!
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