In this article, we’ll fill you in with what you need to know before you buy a micro USB cable. Keep reading to find out more.
In this article:
- What Is Micro USB?
- Micro USB Cable Types
- The Micro-AB USB
- Physical Compatibility
- USB Type-C vs Micro USB
Are All Cables the Same? | Micro USB Cable Explained
What Is Micro USB?
Micro USB is the Universal Serial Bus’ (USB) mini version. It’s mainly used to connect compact and mobile devices like digital cameras, smartphones, and GPS devices.
The small size of Micro USBs allowed manufacturers to produce slimmer devices. Similar to standard USBs, it has a plug-and-play function.
The newer USB Type-C port may eventually take over micro USB, but it’s still the most common port used by popular devices today.
Micro USB Cable Types
1. Micro-A USB
Newer mobile devices like GPS units, cell phones, and digital cameras use the micro-A USB. This micro USB cable is smaller than a Mini-B USB.
Despite its small size, it’s still able to support On-The-Go features and a high-speed transfer rate of 480 Mbps.
Micro-A USB has a white receptacle and a 5-pin design. This micro USB cable has a female-only connector rectangular in size.
2. Micro-B USB
Micro-B USB is similar to its Micro-A counterpart, as it is also used in modern gadgets. It’s commonly found in small electronic devices like cell phones.
While it’s also smaller than Mini-B USB, it can support On-The-Go features and the same transfer rate as micro-A. In fact, USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 devices have micro-B ports that look identical.
Aside from those, micro-B USB has both male and female connectors on micro USB cables. This allows different devices to utilize either of the two connection types.
Micro-B USB has a black receptacle and a 5-pin design. Its ports and connectors feature tapered corners, which give them a half-hexagon shape.
3. Micro-B USB 3.0
You can find this type of micro-USB on devices running on USB 3.0. It’s made to work with USB SuperSpeed applications, carrying power and data.
Unfortunately, this type of micro USB cable is not backwards-compatible with devices that run in USB 1.1 and USB 2.0.
You can probably guess from its name, but micro-B USB 3.0 is very much similar to micro-B. The main difference is that it has an added pin group on its side, which gives it twice the number of wires. This also enables USB 3.0 to function on its normal speed.
The Micro-AB USB
Although it doesn’t exist on a micro USB cable, micro-AB USB is still worth noting. It’s exclusively used as USB On-The-Go devices’ receptacle, which is the reason why it doesn’t have a cable.
It can cater to either micro-A or micro-B USB cable connection. Micro-AB USB has a grey receptacle and a 5-pin design.
What to Consider When Choosing a Micro USB Cable
Micro USB cables may look a lot like each other at first glance, but they’re certainly not created equal. Before getting one, there are five things you should consider:
- Braid or Cable Sheath — This protects the cable from fraying and reduces the possibility of breakage.
- Gauge — Measured in amps, it improves the cable’s durability and lets your device charge faster.
- Ferrite Bead or Iron Ferrite Core — This makes sure your cable performs well by reducing noise. In turn, it improves data transfer speed.
- Strain Relief — Like the Braid, it reduces breakage and protects the cable from fraying. Having a micro USB cable with a reinforced neck can relieve stress and prevent damage to your cable.
- Your Devices — Aside from the technical components, you should also consider what kind of devices you’ll use the cable for before you make a purchase. This way, you can invest in the type that will bring you the best value.
Make sure the first four items above are in top condition so you can get your money’s worth. Don’t be afraid to ask questions concerning the cable’s usage, as these will help you pick the best choice.
The physical compatibility of USB involves their connectors. Specifically, the male connector (plug) and the female connector (receptacle).
The plug fits inside the device, and the connector is the port it attaches to. Here’s what you need to know about the physical compatibility of micro USBs:
- Micro-A plug: Micro-AB USB 2.0 and 3.0 receptacles
- Micro-B plug: Micro-B USB 2.0 and 3.0 receptacles & Micro-AB USB 2.0 and 3.0 receptacles
USB Type-C vs Micro USB
Micro USB established itself as an industry standard, and now most devices use the micro USB 2.0. One limitation it has, however, is that it plugs right in only one way. If you don’t plug it correctly, it won’t work.
USB-C is slated to take over micro USBs as major smartphone brands now utilize USB Type-C as their ports.
Type-C looks a bit bigger than its micro counterpart. Yet what draws manufacturers in are the advantages it brings to the table.
Here are the benefits of USB Type-C:
- It has an oblong reversible shape that allows users to plug it in through either way. It’ll work no matter which side you plug in.
- To ensure fast charge, it uses the data transfer speeds of USB 3.0 and USB 3.1.
- It has transfer rates from 5 Gbps to 10 Gbps.
- It’s able to produce power of up to 100W, which is capable of charging a laptop and other similar devices.
USB Type-C has a “one-size-fits-all” design, meaning it can replace the connector cables that common gadgets and peripherals currently use. These include smartphones, laptops, cameras, game controllers, printers, and HDMI, among others.
It’s certainly fit to eventually replace the limited micro USB cables with its double-ended connector cables.
Micro USBs might be getting replaced in newer devices and electronics, but they’re still very much in use today as it was an industry-standard at one point. When purchasing a micro USB cable, remember the things you have to consider so you can choose the best value for your money.
We hope this guide has helped you understand more about micro USBs and micro USB cables.
Which USB type do you find most useful? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!