USB Connector Basics

USB cables come in a variety of connections, many of which are incompatible with other cables. This can be problematic when replacing USB cables, especially when many of the cables look the same. To add even more confusion, the USB industry is constantly evolving the plug types, causing a difference between each version. These changes influence the plug’s performance.

USB Type A

Known as USB standard A, this USB connector is mostly found on host controllers in computers and hubs. Instead of round pins, this connector uses flat contacts that can withstand continuous attachment and removal. It’s designed to provide “downstream” connection intended for host controllers and hubs. It is rarely used as an “upstream” connector on a peripheral device. This is because USB host controllers will supply 5V DC power on one of the USB pins. It’s also important to remember when purchasing USB cables its safest to make sure at least one of the plugs is a USB A

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USB Type B

B-style connectors are designed for use on USB peripheral devices, such as printers and upstream ports on a hub. This interface is squarish in shape, and has slightly beveled corners on the top ends. USB Type B was created to allow the connection of peripheral devices without the risk of connecting two host computers to each other. Most devices have moved onto a smaller connection so they’re not as common these days, but they’re still used in industrial applications.

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USB Type C

USB Type C or USB-C is the newest USB interface to come to the market along with USB 3.1. USB Type C connectors can be plugged into any USB-C device on either end because of a reversible design.

USB Type C connectors are compatible with USB 2.0, 3.0, 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2. When connecting two USB 3.1 devices, the USB-C cable will transmit data at maximum 10 Gbps with enhanced power delivery of up to 20V, 5A and to support DisplayPort and four channel audio.

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USB Mini B

Designed for compact personal electronics, USB Mini B connections are used on USB peripheral devices. This connector is quite small, about two-thirds the width of an A-style connector. USB Mini B connections include an extra ID pin to support USB On-The-GO, which allows mobile devices and other peripherals to act as a USB host.

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USB Micro B

This connector can be found on newer mobile devices and is essentially a scaled down version of the mini USB. This allowed devices to get slimmer while maintaining the ability to connect to computers and other hubs.

USB Micro B also supports USB On-The-Go, allowing smartphones and other devices to read other peripheral devices as a computer might.

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USB 3.0 Type A

Known as “SuperSpeed”, this interface inherits the A-style connector with a blue color or “SS” logo.  USB 3.0 A provides a “downstream” connection that is intended for use on host controllers and hubs. USB 3.0 Type A has the size and shape of 2.0 and 1.1 applications, but also has additional pins. USB 3.0 connectors are designed for USB SuperSpeed applications, but will carry data from slower speed connections and is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 ports.

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USB 3.0 Type B

USB 3.0 Type B connectors are found on USB 3.0 devices. This USB connector is designed for USB peripherals, such as printers and other large devices. USB 3.0 B plugs cannot be plugged into USB 2.0 B sockets due to the change of the plug shape, however USB 3.0 devices with a B-type connection can accept previous USB 2.0 and 1.1 cabling.

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USB 3.0 Micro B

USB 3.0 Micro B connectors are found on USB 3.0 devices. This connector is designed to carry data and power in USB SuperSpeed applications. USB 3.0 Micro B male connectors cannot be plugged in to a USB 3.0 socket due to its plug shape change.

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