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9 Different Types of USB Ports

USB connection ports
  • USB ports have been in production for over 30 years. They changed the way computers connect to devices and peripherals. 
  • USB ports have dominated the market for connecting computers and USB devices.
  • USB ports are intended to be universal, but they have different connections making each one serve a different function.

I remember the days of having large, clunky cables that I had to screw into my computer to connect everything to it. I also remember how amazing it was when I was able to trade those heavy cables in for a USB port. At the time, I had no idea just how important those cables would be in my life.

They made my life much easier when I could connect my smartphone to my computer. Continue reading to find out all about the different types of USB ports. 

What are USB Ports?

A universal serial bus (USB) is now the standard for how we all connect devices to each other. Even though the name has the word universal in the title, they are not as universal as they may seem. They made the connection to the computer much simpler with an interface that is relatively inexpensive.

The USB port has become the standard for wiring one USB device to another. 

Speed Standards for USB Ports

There are two things that are important when it comes to USB ports. Once is the type of connection the USB has. There is more information about connections below. The other important thing about USB ports is the data transfer speed. 

Some of the main speeds of data transfer are:

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USB 1.0

The USB 1.0 was the original standard for USB ports that was created in the mid 1990s. When the 1.0 is compared to the modern versions of the USB, it is considered an antique. There are not many devices or pieces of equipment that use a USB 1.0 today.

USB 2.0

USB 2.0

The USB 2.0 came out on the market in 2000 as a facelift for the 1.0. This version of the USB port was able to support speeds that were much faster and new ports that were also introduced. This version of the USB port was found in flash drives, keyboards, and mice.

This type of USB created on the go (OTG) support which provided the ability for two devices to communicate with each other. You could connect a keyboard to a smartphone. You will still find many computers today that still have USB 2.0 ports. 

USB 3.0

Type C cable and USB 3.0 adapter

The USB 3.0 has been around since 2008, and it had upgrades of 3.1 and 3.2. Its best upgrade resulted in incredibly fast speeds, much more than a 2.0 could give you. USB 3.x cables are easy to recognize because they are blue and have a lightning bolt logo on them.

They may also be labeled with an SS symbol on them. SS stands for super speed. These cables are backward compatible, which means you can use a 3.x in a 2.0 port. You will get slightly slower speeds by doing this. 

You will find external hard drives and high end flash drives are using USB 3.x. In addition, any USB C cables you find are a USB 3.x.

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USB 4.0

USB 4.0 cable over a smartphone.

USB 4.0 is the new kid on the block when it comes to data speeds. It is now the new standard; however, it is not found everywhere yet. It will take a few years to catch on, just as the USB 3.0 did. But, do not be surprised when it becomes the norm. 

Types of USB Ports

USB cables have different connectors to attach to different devices. In addition, many cables have different connectors on each end. 

Lightning Cable

iPhone X with lightning cable connector.

While the lightning cable is not a true USB standard, it needs to be mentioned. This is Apple’s connector for their smartphones, iPads, AirPods, and many other products. It is a proprietary connector that has been the standard for Apple devices since 2012.

It is similar to the USB C. There are some older Apple products that use a 30 pin connector. It is a reversible cable, and often one side is a lightning connector, and the other side is a USB A.

Micro USB

Micro USB cable being plugged into a phone.

The micro USB is tiny, just like its name suggests, and was incredibly popular at one time. It is used on many portable devices. For example, it is used on external battery packs, headphones, Android phones, and digital cameras. However, it is quickly beginning to lose popularity. Most smartphones have moved on to a different port. 

Mini USB

Mini USB

The mini USB was, at one time, the standard connector for all mobile devices. It is uncommon today as the micro USB has taken over. However, you will still see it on some devices, especially those by Sony. The PlayStation 3 controller, digital cameras, video cameras, and MP3 players use this connector. 

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USB A

USB A

The USB A is the most standard connector you will find. It is flat and rectangular. It only fits in the port one way. A USB A connector is on one end of just about every USB cable. You will not find a cable with a USB A connector on both ends.

This cable is used for computers, TV, game consoles, cars, laptops, and just about any other device you can think of. In addition, many computers and laptops have many USB A ports to connect peripherals. 

USB B

The USB B connector is not used as much today as it has in the past. It is square on one end and is used for a printer or other devices that are going to connect to a computer. The other connectors have taken over and pushed USB B out of the way.

USB C

USB C cable connector

The USB C is the latest cable you will find. It has many benefits. The connector a USB C has is reversible. It comes with higher data transfer rates and a greater amount of power. It is smaller than the beloved USB A. Not only does the USB C provide more power, but it can also receive more power. In addition to data transfer, the USB C can also power output to devices.

A USB C cable has a USB C connector on both ends. You will also find a cable with a USB A connector on one end and a USB C connector on the other end. You will see the USB C on many different devices, including a tablet, smartphones, MacBooks, PlayStation 5 controllers, and Xbox controllers.

Samsung and Google devices are also using USB C cables and connectors. New MacBooks only have USB C ports. Some USB C ports support Thunderbolt. This is what allows the USB C to transfer data at fast rates. 

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USB OTG

Woman using USB OTG on her phone.

The USB On The Go (OTG) has become the standard USB for Android phones. With this cable, you can use your smartphone as an external hard drive, which eliminates the need for a laptop or computer. However, not all devices support USB OTG, and your device may be one of them.

You may also require an adapter to use a USB A on your phone. For example, many Apple devices do not support USB OTG. 

USB 3.0 Internal Connector

USB 3.0 internal connector

This USB is a 20 pin internal connector that Intel developed. It is most commonly used to connect USB SS ports to the front panel of the motherboard. The pin socket has two lines of channels. This provides the ability for two USB 3.0 ports to be present without having to share one channel. 

USB 3.1 Internal Connector

This USB connector was also created by Intel, and it is intended to connect the motherboard to the front USB ports. Just like the previous USB internal connector, it has a 20 pin connector, but it can support a single type C port or dual type A connections. There is also a version of this connector that has 40 pins to support two type C ports.

FAQs

Is a USB 3.0 the same as USB C?

A USB C type is reversible, which means you can plug it in either way. It does not matter if you plug it in upside down, it will still fit in the port. A USB C port can support USB 3.0, 3.1 and possible 2.0. A USB 3.0 is also called USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.1 is also called USB 3.1 Gen 2.

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What is the Standard USB Port?

The standard USB port is the USB A. The USB A connector is found on just about every USB cable. This connector is rectangular and can only fit into the port one way. If you try to put it in the wrong way, it will not go in. 

How Can I Tell the Difference Between the USB ports?

There is a difference between the USB ports and cables. You can easily tell the difference between the ports based on the color. The port has the potential to have the same shape so the color tells you the difference. A USB 1.0 port is white. The USB 2.0 port is black, and USB 3.0 port is blue. 

Will Anything Happen If I Plug a USB 2.0 into a USB 3.0 Port?

Yes, you can plug a USB 2.0 into a USB 3.0 port and vice versa. If you plug a USB 3.0 device into a USB 2.0 port, it will fit, but only run as fast as the USB 2.0 port can transfer the data. If you plug a USB 2.0 device into a USB 3.0 port, it will work, but only run as fast as the 2.0 will allow. 

What are the Advantages of a USB C Port?

A USB C port has many advantages, some of which are that it has a smaller and newer connector that is easier to plug in. The connector is reversible so you can plug it in either way. A USB C cable has substantially more power, which means it can charge a larger device, such as a laptop. A USB C cable can double the transfer speed that data moves.

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Does Apple Use a USB C?

USB C is a universal cable and connector. Many of the devices use a USB C port. MacBooks only have a USB C port. The lightning cable and port, on the other hand, is proprietary for Apple, which means no one else can use it. Androids use a USB C port, but they do not have lightning cables or ports. 

Is Firewire the same as the USB C?

They are not the same thing. Firewire and USB have different stanedards. While they both tranfer data the same way, they still follow different standards. USB has taken off and become more popular while Firewire has been declining. 

How Much Power Does a USB 3.0 Port Provide?

The USB 3.0 port can give up to 900 mA, which is about 4.5 watts. This rating is based on specifications based around standard output specifications of 5 volts. The USB 3.0 is a dedicated charging port and provide 1500 mA, which is about 7.5 watts. 

Are All USB Cables the Same?

No, not all cables are created the same. While the cables, regardless if they are USB A, USB B, or USB C, have the same shape for their connectors. While they may look the same, they do not support the same data transfer speeds and protocols. 

How Much Power Does a USB Port Provide?

While most computer USB ports have a 5V of electricity supply. It has a maximum current of 0.5A. This current is standard across most computers. This also means that the total output of power is going to be 2.5 watts at best. 

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Which One is the Fastest USB Port?

For the longest time, USB 2 was considered the fastest with a maximum speed of about 480 Mbps. The USB 2 has been marketed by other names, including the high-speed USB. However, the USB 3 is quickly speeding past the USB 2 when it comes to the amount of speed that port can transfer and receive data.

It has a speed of about 5 Gbps. It has been marketed by a special name, too. That name is Super Speed.