Every USB Cable Type, Explained

Every USB Cable Type, Explained
Image: Getty Images

Life used to be so simple when there was one primary USB in town. But fast forward to 2019 and tech has ushered in more port shapes and sizes than you can poke a thumb stick at. To help you get up to speed, here’s a quick overview of all the common USB ports lurking in your new product boxes and what they do.


usb-aImage: Getty Images

This one’s the OG you’ve probably been pretty familiar with over the past decade or so. They are often used as portable storage devices, power ports for charging or connecting your PC accessories such as keyboards and mice.

You might also hear of USB 3, which is a backwards compatible USB-A type with faster transfer speeds. While they have the same shape, the pin area is usually coloured blue to differentiate from regular USB-A ports. A USB 4 is also on the way but its release date is still unconfirmed.


usb-bImage: Getty Images

Next on the list is our less common friend, USB-B. These aren’t used very often but you might spot them in the box with your printer or some of your older digital cameras.


usb-cImage: Getty Images

The USB-C port is all the rage as of late with most new smartphones and some laptop models preferring the smaller port as opposed to the larger ones, like USB-A, of yesteryear. It’s a newer design, being created in 2014, and with phones often coming without a headphone jack, the USB-C port has become the home of headphone jack adapters.

Even Apple, who for years preferred its own custom ports such as the Lightning ports, now comes with USB-C ports.

Mini-USB B

mini usbImage: Getty Images

Similar to the USB-B, the Mini-USB port was once the preferred alternative to the USB-A or custom ports on phones and other handheld digital devices. These days, most manufacturers opt for the more standard USB-C or USB-A on devices, but the Mini-USB is still found in older devices released around the mid-2000s.


usb microImage: Getty Images

Developed a few years after the Mini-USB, the Micro-B was small for its time but it soon became the standard port for many years until recently when USB-C made its move. Still expect to find the Micro-USB B port on many of your dating devices.

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  • I have a couple of critiques of this article:
    First, a quick grammatical one: Still expect to find the Micro-USB B port on many of your dating devices.dating” devices?
    Secondly, you’re explaining all the USB port types, not all the USB types. I clicked on this article expecting an explainer on things like USB-2, USB-3, thunderbolt and hopefully some insights on things like charging cables vs data cables. Instead, all I got was a list of plugs.
    You also missed out on some less common but still prevalent plugs like the USB 3.0 version of the Micro USB that had the extra little plug on the side. I had a port like that in my old Galaxy Note 3 (admittedly dated, but so is USB-B) and a lot of portable hard drives have them, too.
    There’s a lot of good info about different connectors on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_hardware#Connectors

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