What is Micro USB?

Dana Hinders

If you can’t live without your cell phone or personal digital assistant (PDA), you’ll be pleased to hear that micro USB connectors will soon make these gadgets even more convenient to use. USB, which stands for Universal Serial Bus, is an external bus, or cable, standard used to connect peripheral devices, like keyboards, to computers. It's an alternative to its common predecessors, serial and parallel standards. After some time, USB technology was enhanced and reduced to a smaller size known as mini USB. The micro USB specification is now scheduled to replace mini USB connectors in many different types of portable devices, including cell phones and PDA's. Standard devices will use Micro-B receptacles, while USB OTG (On-The-Go) devices will use Micro-AB receptacles. Micro-A plugs, Micro-B plugs, and standard cables will also be available.

A variety of USB cables, including micro-USB, mini-USB, and standard USB.
A variety of USB cables, including micro-USB, mini-USB, and standard USB.

The micro USB technology was developed by the USB Implementers Forum, Inc. (USB-IF), an independent non-profit group that works to advance USB technology. Nokia is one of many companies that will be using the micro USB specification in its upcoming products.

When compared to the mini USB, the micro USB offers many advantages. The most obvious benefit to this new technology is its smaller size. As cell phones and PDAs become thinner and lighter, consumers are frequently finding the mini USB connector is simply too large for practical use. The micro USB will allow manufacturers to push the limits of this trend towards sleeker design.

In addition to its smaller size, the micro USB is more durable than the mini USB connector. A micro USB features a stainless-steel shell to allow for over 10,000 insertion cycles, as well as a latching mechanism that provides higher extraction forces without sacrificing the USB’s ease-of-use for synching and charging your portable devices.

Another benefit to this new connector type is that the micro USB specification will support the USB OTG supplement, a technology that was invented to meet the need for portable devices to communicate directly with each other without the assistance of a computer. Whether you’re traveling on business or meeting friends for a casual lunch, the OTG supplement offers total mobile interconnectivity. It allows you to easily transfer, print, or share your documents, songs, and photos while using low power features that will help preserve battery life.

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Dana holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. She has loved being part of the EasyTechJunkie team ever since discovering the joys of freelance writing after her son was born. Dana also hones her writing skills by contributing articles to various blogs, as well as creating sales copy and content for e-courses.

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Discussion Comments


It's the plug on the far left. Get used to seeing it a lot, because the retention mechanism is pure trash and it will slip out of anything it's plugged into. The middle plug (Mini USB) is pure heaven, it works as designed.


Could anyone tell me the dimensions of the micro USB?


I'd like to connect my htc smartphone to my nexus 10 tablet without using bluetooth. I would prefer to use a micro usb to micro usb, but can't seem to find cables for it. Does anyone know if the standard allows for micro usb to micro usb connection?


Too many shapes, too many connectors. It takes only two: a big one and a small one.


From the manufacturer's point of view, Mini B is preferred, due to the cost difference between both connectors, which is at least 20 percent cheaper.


The mini USB and the micro USB look very similar. The micro looks like about half the size of the mini. Also, while both are relatively rectangular in shape, the micro doesn't have little wings or flares on two of the corners like the mini has.

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