What is a USB port?

  • One of the most common questions for users is what is a USB port?
  • USB ports are the most common connector on phones and computers
  • There are three main types of USB port
  • Apple’s iPhones are among the major devices that don’t have a USB port

A USB port is the most popular type of connector found on gadgets.

It stands for Universal Standard Bus, and is an industry standard, meaning that USB ports from manufacturers (should) work seamlessly together – so phone chargers from different manufacturers will work with any USB phone, phone, for instance.

However, as with all things technology, it’s not quite as simple as it seems.

There are several different USB standards, all of which have different physical connectors and requirements.

USB was formally introduced in 2006, and has gone through dozens of versions since.

For most people, there are three major types of USB you’ll probably come across.

What is a USB-A, USB-B, USB Micro, USB-Mini and USB-C port?

There are a confusing number of types of USB connector – here’s how to spot the main types, and what they’re used for.

What is USB-A (Also known as Type A)

The original and most common type of USB, this is the rectangular port found of mice, keyboard and USB sticks

What is USB-B (Also known as type B)

These are almost square, and usually found on routers, computers, and printers.

What are Mini and Micro USB?

Just to make thins even more confusing, there are mini versions of both these connectors, known as Micro-USB. These are commonly found on Android phones and smaller devices such as Kindles. There’s also an older version called Mini USB, which you may find on some old gadget like printers and hard drives.

What is USB-C (Also known as Type C)

The latest and greatest in the USB world, most recent Android phones have USB-C connectors, along with many laptops, including Apple’s Macbooks. Be aware there are different types of USB-C cable available – not all will charge a laptop, for instance, so check what you need before buying. USB-CWhat is a USB port?

types of USB plug
The older types of USB. The news, USB-C plug is shown above, and is easy to spot as its curved.

How to use USB

Using USB is simple – you just plug each end of the cable into the gadgets you want to connect (your printer and your computer, for example).

Depending on what you’re connecting, you may also need to down some software (known as a driver) to make the connection work properly. Often your computer will load these drivers automatically, but don’t be surprised if you’re you’re asked for permission for the connection – this is primarily to stop hackers from connecting to your machine without your knowledge.

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