For those who have always wondered, USB stands for Universal Serial Bus and is an industry standard developed in the mid-1990s to standardize the connection of computer peripherals. The USB cable was successful and was chosen as the standard because in addition to being capable of passing data and transferring it from one device to another or from one computer to another, it is also capable of delivering electricity.
In the guide that follows we will show you the various types of USB cables on the marketthe speeds that can be reached and which USB cables to buy to always obtain maximum compatibility with any device.
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1) USB Type-A
The connector USB Type A it is represented by the large, flat, wide plug characteristic of USB cables. Most regular USB cables have the type-A connector at one end and are also used by most PC peripherals (such as keyboard and mouse).
Personal computers usually have multiple Type A ports, as do modern TVs, chargers including car chargers. This type of USB cable, which is the one we know well with a wide opening, can be used for data transfer and / or for charging.
It has only one insertion directionso we’ll always need to be careful when plugging it into a USB Type-A port to avoid damaging the pin contacts inside.
2) USB Tipo-B
Il USB type B connector it is present on printers and scanners and has a trapezoidal shape.
When a device isn’t powered by USB but has its own separate power supply that plugs into the power outlet, it almost certainly has a USB Type B port.
Also this cable has only one insertion direction but, given its shape, it is impossible to go wrong and damage the connector.
3) Mini USB
This was kind of standard connector to connect old cellphones to PCbefore the arrival of the more modern micro-USB.
The mini-USB port is smaller than the regular USB port and is still used by some cameras or cameras that have non-standard connectors and some external hard drives.
This cable has only one insertion direction and it is easy to insert and remove.
3) USB Mini-B
This type of USB connection is found on many portable hard drives with removable USB cables.
It looks like a flat connector and it allows both to manage the data transfer and the power supply of the portable disk (always associated with a USB 3.0 type cable). It has only one insertion direction but, given its particular shape, we can’t go wrong.
The Micro-USB stick it has been the gold standard for every smartphone for many years, used both to connect the charger and to be connected to a PC to transfer data between computers and smartphones.
Virtually all mobile phone and smartphone manufacturers used this socket until the arrival of USB Type-C, which effectively supplanted all previous formats.
6) USB Type-C
This variant of the USB cable is the more modern also called USB Type-C or simply USB-C. This modern cable allows for higher transfer speeds and more power than previous types of USB cables.
It is used as a standard by new laptops and also by some mobile phones and tablets. USB-C is de facto the ultimate cable as it allows you to receive and deliver much more energy than previous versions of USB.
The USB-C cable can be inserted either waymaking it easy to connect devices and access fast charging or fast data transfer (depending on the protocol in use).
This is not a USB standard but it is the Apple proprietary connector used only on iPhone and older iPad models (Modern iPads have switched to using the USB-C cable).
It is a format similar to the micro-USB, compatible with all Apple devices sold after September 2012. Previously Apple used another type of proprietary connector.
The cable can be inserted in any directionhaving the contacts facing outward, making it easier to plug into any iPhone with greater convenience than older USB standards (in fact, only USB-C has similar convenience).
USB 4.0 it is the latest standard that allows the highest transfer speed and is also backward compatible with previous protocols; with this new protocol we can reach speeds of 40 Gbpsi.e. 5 GB/s.
Alternatively we can find one of the USB 3.0 protocols on cables, devices and PCswith various speeds obtainable according to the protocol used:
- USB 3.2 Gen 1: 5 Gbps (625 MB/s).
- USB 3.2 Gen 2: 10 Gbps (1250 MB/s).
- USB 3.2 Gen 1×2: 10Gbps bi-directional (1250MB/s).
- USB 3.2 Gen 2×2: 20 Gbps (2500 MB/s).
The old USB 2.0 protocol is now very slow and has fallen into disuse, since it supports a transfer speed of 480 Mbps (or 60 MB/s). These protocols can be provided by various types of cable, but the fastest (USB 3.2 Gen 1×2, USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 e USB 4.0) are only available with the USB Type-C cable.
By cons we can also find USB-C cables that only support USB 2.0: these are usually the cables supplied with the latest generation smartphones, which are oriented towards fast charging rather than data transfer.
USB cables can come in various shapes and various speeds but, to be on the safe side and have only the best cables, we try to get some USB-C cables that support the latest USB protocols and that they are compatible with the phones and PCs in our possession.
If we then use various USB devices it is worth having a dedicated drawer with all the useful USB cables for this purpose, perhaps using one of the pack of USB cables available on Amazon.
To learn more, we can read our guides to differences between USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 3.1 and 3.2 pen drives and which one to buy come on how to measure USB stick performance and speed.
Still on the subject of cables, we invite you to read the articles at differences between types of computer cables, ports, jacks and connectors and on file transfer speed: Differences between USB, Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth and other cables.