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Is there any way for me to be able to recognize if a micro USB cable is good for data transfer as opposed to just charging?

I have quite a few micro USB cables but not all of them allow me connect my Android device to my computer (I've tried both on linux and Windows). Most of them (the majority) charge the device but don't recognize it when connected.

Would appreciate any insight on this so as to avoid buying the wrong cable in the future.

Thanks

1
  • Most, if not all, charge only cables that I have seen are clearly labeled as such—at least at the point of sale, it’s likely the label can be removed. I’ve also seen TONS of el cheapo cables that just don’t work correctly-maybe that is the real problem.
    – Tyson
    Nov 18, 2017 at 3:29

6 Answers 6

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No. XKCD made a good cartoon about how frustrating this is.

enter image description here

When you identify a cable that works well, you could mark it so it's easier to find next time, maybe by wrapping it with a piece of electrical tape.

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  • 1
    I tie two knots in the cable if it is charge-only, and three knots if it doesn't work at all (one knot could happen by accident).
    – drkvogel
    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:14
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I tested many cables. The majority had USB trident but over half would not do data. Of those that do data, most would not do data in all my tests.

The only cables I have that do data in all situations have two physical characteristics.

  1. Longer edge pins.
  2. Extra grooves above all pins.

In the photo below:

  • the top cable does data only in some situations
  • the bottom cable does data in all situations

Micro USB data cables

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  • 1
    YES! This worked for me. Thank you for posting such a detailed photo!
    – BoomShadow
    Jul 12, 2020 at 4:57
  • 1
    This worked for me also!
    – Kevin Aung
    Apr 20, 2021 at 20:35
  • Alas, I think you were just lucky here. I just went through 4 micro USB cables, trying to get a device to connect to my Mac. Two of them had a micro connector resembling your bottom connector (but w/o the longer edge pins); both only work for charging. The other two look like your top connector. One has a USB trident symbol; it only works for charging. The remaining cable, from Anker, without a trident, is the only one that passes data. It also has the thinnest cable of the four. Go figure!
    – Tom Loredo
    Nov 2, 2021 at 5:58
  • @TomLoredo sounds like you didn't try a cable exactly like the bottom one? The edge pins are essential. Glad you found a cable that works! Nov 2, 2021 at 8:27
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    I really love the attitude you took to this question. Actually your answer is the best, the proper answer. Thanks. Less seriously, this method works only if you have a microscope or perfect vision of a 19 year old. In my case, no luck, thanks, I guess I'll never be able to tell what cable to plug in when i need data connection. Mar 28 at 18:31
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While an old thread, people will come here through a search, as I did. The problem is to identify whether a cable marked as a micro USB cable (trident logo) is for charging only or for data (data cables also support charging, but may be slower due to thinner connectors). The way I do this: I set up a phone with a micro USB socket as mass storage, and connect it to a computer with a cable known to be a data cable; a file manager should show the phone as a storage device. I then test other cables in this known setup; if and only if the phone shows as a storage device, the cable is a data cable. (I also wiggle the cable to test for intermittent faults.)

To see whether a cable is USB OTG, I use a similar technique: use it to plug a USB keyboard into a phone that supports USG and see if it is recognised.

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  • I understand what your saying and yes this method works but the question was oriented towards being able to identify if a cable if charge only or data transfer without having to test them manually but apparently there is no international standard among cable manufactures with regards to this. Conclusion, you need to test it to be sure (or take the word of the person who sold it to you, and then test it when you get home...)
    – natral
    Aug 19, 2019 at 14:24
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Edit: After some more research and experience, as well as a comment below, this isn't a 100% tell. It's "good enough" for most things, but I've seen charge-only cables with the USB logo and data cables missing the logo. It's pretty bad when a standard isn't standard.


I know this question is a little old, but I figured it out last night, I believe.

On the ends of a USB cable, there is normally the USB logo:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fd/USB_Icon.svg/475px-USB_Icon.svg.png

However, this is apparently missing on the "charge only" cords. After looking at 2-3 of them last night looking for a data cable, I realized that "fact". I don't know if that's a standard for all manufacturers, but I seriously doubt the random ones I was looking at were the same brand.

One of the cords with the missing logo had a paper flag/label that said it's only a charging cable, further qualifying that it does not transfer data.

Please post as a comment if you find this to be wrong. I'd like to hear other's results.

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  • You mean it's missing on the "charge only" ones?
    – dirkt
    Dec 2, 2017 at 21:15
  • Yup, um, I'm going to edit that. Sorry! Dec 2, 2017 at 22:28
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    @computercarguy I checked your theory but not consistent with all my cables. It appied to most of my cables but I have one that is "charge only" and does have the USB logo on the end. Guess since this is not standardize across all manufacturers...
    – natral
    Dec 7, 2017 at 16:24
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    @natral, that's too bad. I was hoping this would make it easy to identify these cables. I guess it might be a "rule of thumb", but not something to be fully relied on. :-S Dec 7, 2017 at 16:50
0

Is there any way for me to be able to recognize if a micro USB cable is good for data transfer as opposed to just charging?

Look for the USB "trident" trademarked icon. It is not illegal to make junk cables but it is illegal to use trademarks without permission. To get permission to use the USB trademarks on cables requires proving the cables meet the USB specifications on data and power. Places that use trademarks without permission tend to get sued into oblivion quite quickly and easily so cables that don't meet the USB spec and have the USB icons on them are rare.

I have quite a few micro USB cables but not all of them allow me connect my Android device to my computer (I've tried both on linux and Windows). Most of them (the majority) charge the device but don't recognize it when connected.

The cables not transferring USB data is a side effect of phone makers choosing USB as the standard means to charge phones. There's a long story that would explain how we got here but not answer the question on how to tell the cables apart.

What it comes down to is that cables tested to meet the USB spec on power and data will have the USB icons on it. Not having the USB icon does not mean it won't work as a USB data cable, only that it has not been tested to comply with the USB spec.

Many Android devices use cables built to handle more power than USB allows for charging faster than USB would allow, this means needing a way to tell a USB cable from a cable built for more power. They do this by using the data pins on the USB connectors in the cable to identify the cable to the charger and phone. Not having the USB icon on a cable can mean it's a cheap piece of junk or a heavy duty fast charging phone charger cable. How can someone tell the junk from high quality fast charging cables? As far as I know there is no quick and easy way.

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You have 2 types of cables,

-one is a charging cable and this contains inside it only Two Wires (Positive & Negative) It Can't Transfer Data,

-and the other is a Data Cable and this Contains Inside it Four Wires (Positive, Negative, Data transfer & Data Receive),

So when you go and buy a cable ask for a "Data Cable" Not a Charge Cable, That's It.

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  • are there any visual cues I can use to tell them apart? Or do I have to trust that the person selling them knows what (s)he is talking about?
    – natral
    Nov 17, 2017 at 20:31
  • It's usually listed on the package. I haven't run into any that say it on the cable. I usually end up by sitting there for +5 min waiting for the drivers to come up before I realize what happened... grr... :-P Nov 17, 2017 at 20:33
  • Well i don't know what to tell you with that, Why he would lie to you about such a thing? Just Buy it from a Trustworthy Store that's it, its simple as a spoon in your hand. Nov 17, 2017 at 20:37

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