Are All USB Cables OTG? (What You Need to Know!)

USB on-the-go cables have become increasingly popular recently, which bodes the question – are all USB cables OTG?

No, not all USB cables are OTG. OTG means on-the-go, and it’s a feature that enables most compatible devices to read data from a USB device without first connecting to a computer.

This feature is beneficial when connecting to a mobile port or device and is becoming increasingly familiar with Android devices.

Read on to find out everything you need about these cables and how to identify whether or not you have one in your possession.

1. What is a USB OTG Cable?

A USB OTG (on-the-go) cable enables you to connect to a full-sized USB flash drive to your phone or tablet through a micro USB port without needing to connect to a computer.

It allows you to connect your Android smartphone or tablet to accept input from a mouse, keyboard, or microphone, offering multiple possibilities to the user.

One side of the cable has a connector for your Android device, and the other is equipped with a USB-A.

Therefore, your smartphone or tablet becomes the primary device when you connect it to an external piece of hardware.

The cable increases the functionality of your smartphone or tablet, enabling you to use your mobile device more like a computer, bringing a whole host of possibilities into play.

So, while not all USB cables are OTG connectors, having one in your possession is advantageous. But how can you tell if your USB cable is also an OTG?

2. How to Tell if Your USB is an OTG Cable?

The easiest way to tell if your USB cable is an OTG is by looking at it. As mentioned, an OTG USB cable has a connector for your smartphone or tablet on one end and a USB port on the other.

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In this respect, it’s different from standard USB cables that you can use to plug your device into a computer.

When you slide the OTG cable into your phone, you can also plug an external piece of hardware or another device into the vacant USB slot, enabling you to connect your phone directly to the external device without needing to link it to a computer.

Depending on your purchased device, you might have a USB OTG cable included by the manufacturer. But otherwise, you can easily order one online to use with your Android device.

As such, these cables are becoming increasingly popular with Android users as they can be used in myriad ways, as we explain below. 

3. How Can You Use a USB OTG Cable?

Once you’ve determined that you have a USB OTG cable, you can put it to good use. There are numerous ways to benefit from this technology, including:

  • Connect flash drives and external hard drives directly to your phone or tablet, backing up or transferring files between the two.
  • Use a keyboard and mouse to write an article or report on your phone or tablet, negating the need for a desktop computer or laptop.
  • Print essential documents by connecting directly to a printer from your phone or tablet.
  • Record audio directly from your phone using a microphone – this is ideal for content creators and Anchor podcasters.
  • Effortlessly connect to the internet via an Ethernet cable.

The main thing to remember is that a USB OTG cable increases the functionality of your smartphone or tablet and can also form part of a USB splitter hub for when you need to connect multiple devices simultaneously.

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You can connect to various external applications, meaning that you don’t necessarily need to connect to a laptop or desktop computer, as has historically been the case when connecting to external hardware.

4. Are All Phones Compatible with OTG?

The vast majority of Android smartphones and tablets are compatible with USB OTG. After all, it’s one of Android’s biggest selling points and is a key feature of most devices, given the potential benefits associated with the technology.

If your device comes with a USB OTG cable as standard, you can use this as a sign that it is compatible with your smartphone or tablet.

However, if you’re unsure if your device is compatible, there’s a free app called “USB OTG Checker” that you can download from the Google Play Store.

The app assesses your device’s compatibility with USB OTG, enabling you to check whether or not you can use the cable on your device before ordering one.

5. How Do I Enable USB OTG?

Once you have discerned whether your device is compatible with OTG, you can plug in the hardware or external device and start immediately.

However, you can check your phone’s settings if you have a connectivity issue.

Go to “Settings” > “System” > “OTG Storage” and ensure that the OTG Storage option is checked. In most instances, this will enable your OTG cable and resolve any connectivity issues.

When ordering an OTG, it’s best to order an official cable compatible with your device. OTG cables from third-party sellers are more likely to be faulty, which can cause you connectivity issues going forward.

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As explained, not all USB cables are OTG, as it’s a specific type of cable that you can use to connect your smartphone or tablet to an external piece of hardware or application.

Given the many benefits of USB OTG cables, it makes sense to invest in one for your Android device to connect to external applications without needing a computer.