Different USB Cable Types. A Few of Them Explained.

USB Types confuse all of us. Type-A, Type-B, Type-C, Mini USBs and more, all of these are USB types, so what’s the difference?

The major differences would be that they support newer technologies and are compatible only with certain devices.

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I’ll give you (the reader) some info on those types right here:

USB Cable Types

USB Type-A

You see these almost everywhere, they are the ones that are flat and rectangular. It is difficult to not come across one of these. Computers, laptops and most modern TVs have a Type-A port. It is used to charge plenty of devices as well as being used with Hubs and more.

USB Type-B

(Sorry I couldn’t find a picture of this on the free image sites.) Just… square as simple as I could put it. This type gets used mostly with printers. Actually quite outdated because newer devices are using smaller connections.

USB Type-C

Black USB Type C Cable shown against a black background.

Is the latest technology when compared to other types. Faster in terms of transfer rates which allows for a much faster copy and also delivers more power when charging devices such as phones.

Newer devices come standard with USB Type-C like the new Samsung, Pixel phones and quite a bunch of the new phones actually.

There are other devices too, it’s not just phones that use Type-C. There’s another juicy tidbit that comes with Type-C and it’s loved by all. Well, what is it?

Let me inform you that not only would your device receive power, but it could also give power to devices that it’s connected to. For instance, if you need to charge your bluetooth speaker you could do just that, but with your phone giving a charge for the speaker, pretty cool right? It’s also able to power almost any device, from laptops to HD resolution monitors, glorious!

There’s also the super cool function that brings about the fact that Type-C can bring Ultra HD resolutions to some displays that support them. So just plug in that Type-C and watch away.

Another slight advantage here as well, is that the USB Cable is reversible which means you could plug in a device without forcing it and you would not have to worry if you are plugging it into your phone the wrong way.

Mini USB

USB Type B next to a Type A against a white background.
Mini USB on the left.

Quite a bit smaller than Type-A/Type-B and not seen much these days… and no, not because it’s small. You CAN still find them?. It still has its uses like charging the Playstation 3 controller, MP3 players, digital cameras and is also used with external hard drives.

Before Micro USB times these types were used quite a bit.

Micro USB

Hand blurred in the background holding up a micro USB.

Yep you guessed it, they’re smaller than Mini-USBs (Was it the name that gave it away?)

This Type is the current standard for most of the world, but is slowly being replaced by the newer types like Type-C. Used to charge phones, controllers and a plethora of other devices.

Oh and it’s not just called Micro USB Cables, they’re divided into Micro-A and Micro-B.

Lightning USB Type

So…Here’s a scenario. You’re at your buddy’s house and you need a charger, you ask them if they could supply you with the powa and they hand you a iphone charger. What now!

Well, there’s nothing you can do (Besides get another charger.) Yup, that USB Type is a Lightning USB Type and for some reason iPhone loves them. They’re similar in size to Type-C.

Let’s Get A Little Technical.

USB Speeds

1.0

Here’s where it gets a little technical (just a tiny bit).

This speed standard is quite old when pitted against 2.0 and 3.0.

It’s quite rare to find this standard being used in devices today. It is the slowest out of the lot giving you an average of 1.5 megabits per second at its lowest speed and 5 megabits per second at its highest speed.

Note:

Bits and Bytes are different. I’ll make it simple, bits are smaller than bytes, eight times smaller in fact. Which means there are eight bits in 1 byte so that means that: 1 Byte = 8 Bits

  • Kilobyte = 8000 Bits
  • Megabyte = 8000000 Bits
  • Gigabyte = 8000000000 Bits
  • Terabyte = 8000000000000 Bits

Both units are considered binary digits and seen as a unit in memory size. If you’re wondering how much Bytes is in a Kilobyte, Megabyte, Gigabyte and Terabyte here you go:

  • Kilobyte = 1000 Bytes (more accurately 1024 Bytes because computers use binary math with a base of two.
  • Megabyte = 1000000 Bytes
  • Gigabyte = 1000000000 Bytes
  • Terabyte = 1000000000000 Bytes

Anyway let’s head over to USB 2.0 shall we? (You’re probably bored of those numbers or uninterested by it.)

2.0

This standard is used with common USB Cable Types and has brought upon support for Mini, Micro, etc.

Still found on keyboards, mice, other input devices and is still used on some computer ports.

When compared with other standards today it is quite slow so watch out for that if you want a speed boost (Still faster than USB 1.0 though.).

When I say it’s slow I mean when it’s compared to USB 3.0 it only reaches speeds up to 480 megabits per second while USB 3.0 reaches up to 5 gigabits per second. So that means in theory it’s almost ten times slower than USB 3.0 more or less.

That’s about it for USB 2.0

3.0

USB 3.0 has become the norm at this point in time and is something that typically/usually comes with a blue colour, whether it would be as a port or connector.

Again, it is almost ten times faster than USB 2.0 (reaching 5 gigabits per second) which is probably why it has become the norm for external drives as well. This standard also has a label tagged to it called SS USB (Superspeed).

3.1

Replacing 3.1 as its newer technology brings about even faster speeds, 10 Gigabits per second. Also known by Superspeed USB.

3.2

Even faster at 20 Gigabits per second and has the same SS Branding.

Imagine copying movies at these speeds, the wait is over my friends.

Pay Attention Here! Especially To The Types and Speeds.

Just because it is faster doesnt mean it’s supported. Both your devices port and cable type need to be the same. However, further versions of the cable type like 3.0 would still work in a 2.0 port, but at 2.0 speeds.

Oh and The types and speed standards are different from one another, what I mean by this is that The Type is represented by the shape, while the speed standards are represented by its transfer capabilities.

Hope this post has helped you to understand the capabilities of USB types and speeds. Thank you for reading.

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Your Friend,

@Shay

Co-Founder of ComputeeZA

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