How do I understand the different USB connections?

Written by: Jon Duffy

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Time to read 1 min

Let’s be honest, working out the different USB cable types can be a nightmare. From charging your phone to connecting a laptop and monitor, it can be tricky to know exactly what you need.


Luckily, Maplin are on hand to help you out!



USB-A

Flat and rectangular in shape, these are the classic and original USB connector. They just need to be the right way up… (trust us when we say this, everybody has got it wrong at least once. Or twice. Okay, maybe even more than that…)

Ideal for charging devices and transferring data, they often connect to laptops, desktops, TVs and wall chargers.

SHOP ALL USB-A CABLES

USB-B

Looking far more like a square, USB-B connectors are frequently used for devices like scanners and printers. Just be careful not to confuse them with Micro-USB and Mini-USB, which we’ll describe in more detail below.

SHOP ALL USB-B CABLES


Mini-USB

Not a common sight anymore, Mini-USB connectors are usually found on older electronics. Perhaps you have a classic MP3 player, a retro digital camera, or you just need to charge older gaming peripherals like the PlayStation 3 controller (yes, we just felt terrifically old too).

SHOP ALL MINI-USB CABLES

Micro-USB

Micro-USB used to be the go-to option for charging portable devices like smartphone and tablets, but they are still used by plenty of devices today as a cheaper alternative to USB-C.

Just like USB-A, they can transfer data and keep your devices charged. They can either look rectangular in shape or (more commonly) like a trapezoid.

SHOP ALL MICRO-USB CABLES


USB-C

The modern choice and current industry standard. Not only can it charge devices and transfer data at much faster speeds than the older USB-A design, USB-C connectors can also transfer a video feed to monitors and TVs. 

You’ll find USB-C ports on most new devices like smartphones, gaming peripherals and laptops. Plus, its reversible, smaller oblong design means you never have to worry about plugging it in the wrong way up!

SHOP ALL USB-C CABLES


Lightning


This is Apple’s unique connector for use with iPhone, iPads and more. Just like USB-C it can be plugged in either way up and offers both charging and data transfer options. If you need to connect your Apple device to a laptop or wall charger, we’d recommend our range of Lightning cables with USB-A and USB-C connectors.

SHOP ALL LIGHTNING CABLES

About the author

Jon Duffy is a Digital Merchandiser at Maplin.

An avid gamer from a young age, Jon has dabbled in gaming journalism and dedicates much of his spare time to this hobby. He also has an interest in music, playing bass guitar in a rock covers band.

Having previously worked as a copywriter with another electronics retailer, he was eager to join Maplin with their new online venture. In addition to writing blogs, Jon also works on many of the website's landing pages and adding new tech to the range.