Types of USB cables and which one do I need

Types of USB cables and which one do I need

The USB port has become a hallmark of computers and is one of the most used. Its popularity is so great that its use has spread to many other devices such as televisions, tablets, smartphones, game consoles and many more. In this article we talk about the different types of USB cable that exist .

The great versatility of the USB port has led to the appearance of different types of connectors , each with its own particular characteristics. This variety allows the USB standard to be perfectly adapted to all devices that implement this famous connection.

The different types of USB cables and their most typical uses

USB cables are differentiated by the type of connector they use at their ends, below, we will explain their most important characteristics.

USB A cable

USB A cable is the most common and the oldest . It is the typical connector that we all know, and that has been present in our computers for many years. A characteristic of this connector is that it has a tab that is located at the bottom, so it is not a symmetrical port.

The above is the reason that every time you are going to use a USB A cable, you have to look at the position of the tab to orient it correctly, otherwise it will be impossible to connect it. In the first versions the tab was white or gray, while from USB 3.0 it has turned blue to distinguish it better.

USB B cable

The USB B cable is practically not used beyond printers and some monitors that connect to the PC through a USB port to manage some of its functions. It is characterized by being a very robust and asymmetric connector. In the USB 3.x versions it is blue, while in the previous versions it was white or gray. These cables usually have one USB B end and the other USB A end.

USB 2.0 cable

Example of a printer cable, with one end USB B and the other USB A

Mini B USB cable

Mini B USB Cable

It maintains the same characteristics as USB B, but is somewhat smaller, so it is better suited to more compact devices. You may see it on some external hard drives with quite a few years behind them. Many years ago it was very common to see it on devices such as photo or video cameras. It is the connector that the DualShock 3 of the Playstation 3 uses , if you have had one, you will remember it.

Micro B USB cable

Micro B USB cable

It is an even smaller version of USB A and is widely used today. It is what we find in most of the smartphones on the market, console controls, hard drives and tablets . The Playstation 4 controller uses this type of connector to recharge the battery.

USB C cable

USB C cable

The USB C cable has been the last to hit the market. Its main characteristic is that the connector is totally symmetrical , so there is no more having to look at it to place it correctly. Another of its advantages is that it can supply up to 100W of power in the most modern versions, making it enough to power a large number of devices without the need to connect a dedicated power cable.

It is important to note that a USB cable does not have to have the same type of connector at both ends , that is, we can have a cable that is USB C at one end and USB A at the other end.

USB cable types

The different types of USB connector. From left to right: micro-USB type B, mini-USB type B, USB type B, USB type A female and USB type A male. Wikipedia.

Different generations of the USB port

The USB port has gone through several generations, the most important difference between them being the bandwidth it offers. The first version barely reached a speed of 12 Mbps, while the current USB 3.2 reaches an impressive 20 Gbps . USB 4.0 will be the next update of this standard, its arrival is scheduled for the end of 2020, and it will offer a bandwidth of 40 Gbps.

Speed ​​of USB generations

USB 1.0

12 Mbit / s

USB 2.0

480 Mbps

USB 3.0

5 Gbps

USB 3.1

10 Gbps

USB 3.2

20 Gbps

USB 4.0

40 Gbps

One characteristic of USB is that all generations of ports are compatible with each other , so there is no problem plugging a USB 3.2 device into a port that is USB 2.0. This means that it is possible to connect two devices with different generations of the USB port, in this case both will work at the speed of the older port.

Tips for buying USB cables

USB cables are not very expensive, but you can always find a win by browsing the Internet. Low-cost cables are of lower build quality and are not recommended.

A poor quality USB cable can cause interference in the transmission of data , causing it to arrive corrupted, making the transfer much slower or even causing our smartphone to stop charging. Good quality cables have an internal shield to avoid all these problems, plus the plastic coating on the outside is much more durable.

The most critical in this regard are USB C cables. These are capable of carrying a large amount of current so they must be safe. A poor quality cable can cause our device to receive more energy than it can support , causing its circuits to end up fried. This problem has been quite common in smartphones with a USB C port.

Finally, if your smartphone is compatible with fast charging technologies, make sure that the USB C cable that you are going to buy is also compatible . Otherwise, it may happen that you do not take advantage of the fast charge or worse, that the cable catches fire due to overheating. It is something very serious that should not be taken lightly.