What Is the Difference Between a Mini USB & Micro USB?

Written by michael koyan
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What Is the Difference Between a Mini USB & Micro USB?
Mini USB connectors are being phased out of new devices in favour of the newer micro USB technology. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Mini and micro USB connectors are a common means of connectivity for computers and other electronic devices. USB technology is used in conjunction with a wide array of devices such as cellphones, MP3 players, digital cameras and game controllers. While both mini and micro USB perform the same functions, in 2011 the majority of new electronic devices that support USB are using micro USB technology because of its smaller size and durability.

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USB Background

USB (universal serial bus) connectors were initially designed to allow quick connections between computers and peripherals such as printers, mice and keyboards. USB technology is standard for all manufacturers across the United States and helps to reduce connection errors. All sizes of USB connectors have both A types (used on devices that provide power) and B types (used on peripherals that need power). Standard USB connectors have four pins: one for power, two for data and one for ground.

Mini USB

Mini USB connectors are smaller than their standard USB counterparts and feature a fifth pin. The fifth pin is known as the ID pin and is typically of no use in mini USB connectors. It was designed to allow for later upgrading of the USB technology. Mini USB connectors have a life cycle of at least 5,000 connects and disconnects, which accommodates the mobile nature of the devices they are designed to interface with. Standard USB connectors generally are used with devices that are stationary and not disconnected often.

Micro USB

As electronic devices such as cellphones continue to get smaller, most new devices are incorporating micro USB connectors. Created in 2007, micro USB connectors are smaller than their mini USB counterparts and have a life cycle of at least 10,000 connects and disconnects. The purpose of their design is to reduce the chances of damage from perpendicular or horizontal stress. Micro USB features five pins, of which the ID pin functions in special micro USB AB connectors. With AB connectors the ID pin can allow the device to function as either an A or B connector with the standard USB technology. This gives new smartphones and other devices the option to act either as a simple storage device or as the device that is dictating the action.

Future

While all forms of USB connectors are still manufactured and in use, micro USB connectors are the primary option for new mobile electronics. These ports have all but replaced standard non-USB, charging-only connectors used on cellphones, and now allow consumers to not only charge their phones but also to send and receive data from the same port.

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