In most modern technology devices, there will be some form of USB connection available to connect equipment. Despite supposedly being universal, there are different variations of USB types and versions; including what connectors and cables each can use.
In this guide, we will explore the different types of USB connectors, ports and cables, and answer the most frequently asked questions on how each works.
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What should you know about USB types?
USB, which stands for Universal Serial Bus, refers to the system that transfers data between computers or between components within a computer, such as a keyboard or a mouse. Consisting of a type of cable and connector, many electronic devices will have a USB connection available, including in vehicles and modern workstation power systems.
In the table below, we have defined the most common USB terms to be aware of:
This is located at the end of a USB cable.
This is what the USB cable is plugging into.
This is the shape of the USB connector or port.
This is the technology that allows data to be transferred along the USB cable.
Find out more about USB compatibility and the differences between USB versions here.
What are the different types of USB connectors?
Often referred to as “male”, as they plug into a “female” port, it is important to understand that there are two elements of USB standard to consider; the physical connector shape and the underlying protocol (speed).
USB Type A
Compatible with: USB 1.1 Type A, USB 2.0 Type A and USB 3.0.
USB 2.0 Type A
The most common type of USB connector is Type A, which is rectangular. USB Type A connectors have backward capability; extending the number of ports that can be connected. Officially this type of USB connector is called Standard-A and their plugs are found at the end of cables that are hard-wired into a USB device.
USB 3.0 Type A
Although there are 2.0 and 3.0 USB Type A connectors, all Type A plugs from any USB version will fit into the receptacle. However, there are certain differences between the 2.0 and 3.0 versions; for example, USB 3.0 has an additional nine pins to enable a faster data transfer rate.
USB Type B
Compatible with: USB 1,1 Type B, USB 2.0 Type B, USB 3.0 Type B
Compared to Type A, the USB Type B connectors are square with a slight rounding or large square protrusion on the top. op. Certain Type B plugs are not physically compatible. USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 Type B plugs can be used with 3.0 version receptacles; however, USB 3.0 Type B plugs cannot be used with 2.0 or 1.1 Type B receptacles.
USB 2.0 Type B
The main difference between versions is the shape, as the rounding has been altered due to the increase of the number of pins; allowing a faster data transfer.
USB 3.0 Type B
There is also the USB Type B Mini, primarily found on digital cameras, USB hubs, and external hard drives, and the USB Type B Micro which is used by modern Android phones.
USB Type C
Compatible with: USB 3.0
Although USB Type A is still the most used connector, the USB Type C are becoming increasingly more popular. Type C connectors differ in appearance compared to the previous USB types, as they are asymmetrical and have a small and thin appearance. One major difference is that the USB C is reversible; meaning it does not matter which way the connector is facing.
USB 3.0 Type C
In a standard USB C cable, there are Type C connectors on both sides, and have been adopted by various smartphone companies. This is primarily due to the fast data transfer rate, as the cable has 24 pins, and is ideal for connecting monitors, charging high-powered devices, and transferring data in a business environment.
USB C is not as common as USB Type A and B, despite the additional benefits.
Interested in workstation power?
Our recommended USB charging device:
The Capsule Plus provides high-speed USB charging for laptops and other devices; making it ideal for office and homeworking. There is a Type A and Type C twin USB port to ensure a variety of devices can be connected.
If you are interested in charging USB devices in your business, shop the entire workstation power range at CMD here.
What are the different types of USB cables?
USB cables are named in one of two ways:
1. AS A SINGLE TYPE
A USB Type C cable.
With these cables, the type is whichever end of the cable isn’t the standard USB Type-A connector. So, for example, a cable with both a USB Type-A and a Type-C connector is a USB Type-C cable.
If both connectors are USB Type-A, it would be a USB Type-A cable (or a USB male-to-male of cable or, simply, a USB cable).
2. AS ONE TYPE TO ANOTHER
A USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable.
If the cable has a Type-A connector at one end (as in the above image), that will usually be the first type. The second will be the shape of connector that will plug into your device.
Some cables have the same connector at both ends and are named accordingly—for example, a USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable.
Interested in USB charging for the office?
Our recommended product:
Inca has been designed with communal working areas and meeting rooms in mind. Available in three colours, the modules are supplied with cables, and have twin USB ports to simultaneously charge laptops, tablets and mobile phones.
If you are interested in USB chargers for your office but are unsure of your choices, read our guide on how to choose a USB charger here.
What are the different types of USB ports?
The USB port (also called a socket, jack or receptacle) is the part of the device that the USB connector plugs into. USB ports are sometimes referred to as “female”, as they accept a “male” connector.
The different types of USB ports, for both the 2.0 and 3.0 versions, are listed in the table below:
|USB type||USB 2.0 port||USB 3.0 port|
USB B Mini
USB B Micro
Ensure your office environment has sufficient opportunities for charging USB devices by considering the number and types of ports in the charging station.
Our recommended USB charging hub:
This charging station contains 2 5A ports and provides high power for busy office environments. The Harmony device is designed to be on the desk and has multiple charging outlets for both USB Type A and USB Type C devices.
Find out more about what to consider when buying a USB charging station here.
How CMD can help
CMD are a British manufacturing company that provides high-power systems to enhance office and homeworking environments. We provide vast product ranges, including power distribution systems and workstation power charging hubs.
No matter the USB type, our workstation power devices can charge a variety of devices, including the relatively new USB Type C.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS USB TYPE B USED FOR?
You’ll typically find USB Type B ports on larger devices you connect to your computer, such as printers and scanners. You might also have external storage devices or drives that use them.
Most USB Type B connectors are at one end of a USB Type B to USB Type A cable. You plug the Type-B connector into the printer, scanner or other device and the Type A connector into the standard USB port on your computer.
DOES MY LAPTOP HAVE USB TYPE C?
Most modern technology devices have started including USB Type C outlets, including Apple MacBooks and Chromebooks.
It is important to remember that your laptop may not be able to charge the device, despite having a USB Type C port. MacBooks can, however, other computers might only charge with their own charger.
The manual that came with your computer should tell you whether this is possible, or you can check the manufacturer’s website.
Find out more about the most frequently asked questions on USB chargers here.