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.


  • 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 '17 at 3:29

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

enter link 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.

  • 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 at 11:14

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 this photo the top cable does data only in some situations.

The bottom cable does data in all situations.

Micro USB data cables

  • 1
    YES! This worked for me. Thank you for posting such a detailed photo! – BoomShadow Jul 12 '20 at 4:57

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.

  • 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 '19 at 14:24

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:


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.

  • You mean it's missing on the "charge only" ones? – dirkt Dec 2 '17 at 21:15
  • Yup, um, I'm going to edit that. Sorry! – computercarguy Dec 2 '17 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 '17 at 16:24
  • 1
    @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 – computercarguy Dec 7 '17 at 16:50

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.

  • 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 '17 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 – computercarguy Nov 17 '17 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. – Mohamed Amin ElTagoury Nov 17 '17 at 20:37

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