Most computers and electronic devices have some kind of USB connection. And many computers and gadgets carry a USB cable in the package.

Are all these cables the same? How can you tell them apart? What is each kind of cable for?

6 types of USB cables and their utility

USB is a type of universal connection. Now there are many types of USB cables and connectors. Each class of USB has a specific purpose.

Type A

This is the standard that you will find at one end of the vast majority of USB cables. The shape of this connector is rectangular.

Most computers have multiple USB Type-A ports for connecting peripherals. Be it printers, external hard drives, and other equipment.

This connection is also present in video game consoles, televisions, and many other devices.

Type B

This connector is square. It is mostly used for printers and other electrically powered devices that connect to a PC. Currently, they are rare. The reason is that most computers have switched to smaller connections.

Mini USB

It is a smaller connector than the standard for mobile devices before the micro USB. It has lost popularity, but you will still see this connection on some cameras and MP3 players.

Micro USB

It is the current standard for mobile and portable devices. Even smaller than the mini USB.

You will still find micro USB in all kinds of smartphones and tablets, while many devices are leaping USB-C.

Type C (USB-C)

Newly implemented USB standard. Is smaller. It allows higher data transfer rates than previous systems. You will find it in many new-generation laptops and smartphones, including the MacBook.

In addition to transferring data, USB-C can power devices.

Lightning

It is not strictly a USB standard. It is a proprietary connector for Apple for iPhone, iPad, AirPods. It has a dimension similar to that of the USB-C standard.

One type A end and the other type B

In most cases, you will notice that USB cables have one end type A and the other end type B (of any kind).

The Type A end connects to the device, for example, the computer. The Type B end receives power, connected, for example, to an external hard drive.

Mini and Micro connectors are considered smaller versions of the Type B connector.

USB speed standards

We have already explained the types of USB connections. Now we will discuss the different data transfer speed standards.

The three primary standards are:

USB 1.x

The original standard, which has become obsolete. Today, it is difficult to find devices that use this USB speed standard.

USB 2.0

It introduced many new types of USB connections, such as Mini and Micro cables. This is the lowest transfer rate used today.

You’ll see this standard on cheap flash pen drives, mice, keyboards, and similar devices. Most computers include some USB 2.0 ports.

USB 3.x

It is the current standard in terms of transfer speed. It is much faster than USB 2.0. Therefore, it is recommended for devices such as external hard drives.

Many USB 3.0 ports also have the SS symbol, which refers to SuperSpeed, or SuperSpeed.

Most newer computers have at least one USB 3 port. Quality flash pen drives have long used this standard.

Compatible

You can use a USB 2.0 device in a USB 3 port. You can also use a USB 3 device in a USB 2.0 port. But in neither case can you take advantage of that extra speed.

In this graph, you can see which types of connectors are compatible with which speed standards.

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