Understanding USB types and versions

USB Cables vary greatly, both in physical design and speed capabilities. In this quick guide we will summarize the differences between the most common cables.

The different types of USBs

USB cables can be classified into USB Type A, USB Type B, USB Type C, USB Micro, USB Mini, and Lightning based on their physical design.

USB All fi 768x446 1

Furthermore, USB connectors are divided into various versions based on their speeds, like USB 1.0, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB 4.0


USB Type A connectors are one of the most common USB connectors.

If your laptop or desktop computer has a USB port (where you can plug in USB devices), it will most likely be a USB Type A port.

USB Type A 1


Smaller than Type A and square-shaped. This is relatively less common than Type A, you will often find it on computer components like printers, scanners, external hard drives, etc.

USB Type B v2


Arguably the most popular USB connector. Due to its small size, it easily fits into the smallest peripherals we use today, like smartphones, Bluetooth speakers, etc.


One of the many advantages of Type-C over other existing variants is that it allows “reverse plug orientation,” which means that you can always plug in your USB cable correctly on the first try. Its plug is made so you can plug it into the slot without thinking about its orientation.

USB Type C 1

USB Mini

These are smaller counterparts of Type A and Type B USB connectors and are thus divided into two variants: USB Mini A and USB Mini B.

USB Mini v2

USB Micro

Popularly known as Micro USB, this is a very common USB connector you will find in many smartphones. However, with the advent of USB Type C, Micro USBs are slowly getting phased out in newer models.

The USB Micro B Superspeed variant enables data transfer faster than traditional Micro USB B connectors.

USB Micro

Lightning Cable (For Apple Devices)

The cable has a thin, rectangular connector on one end and a Type C connector on the other end.

It is also reversible, i.e., it can be plugged in either way without worrying about which is the right side up.

This connector is only available for Apple products.

Lightning Cable v2

The many versions of USBs

There are different versions of USB based on how fast they transfer and receive data between two electronic devices. The main types of USB are as follows:

USB 1.0

Launched in 1996

Top speed 1.5Mbps

USB 2.0

Launched in 2000

Top speed 480Mbps

USB 3.0

Launched in 2007

Top speed 5Gbps

USB 4.0

Launched in 2019

Top speed 40Gbps

There are some versions between these, like USB 1.1, USB 3.1, and USB 3.2.

USB 1.1 was launched in January 1998 soon after the USB 1.0. The top speed of data transfer of USB 1.1 was 12 megabits per second (Mbps).

USB 3.0 was launched in September 2007 and could handle a top speed of 5 Gbps. However, further updates were released over the next couple of years, which triggered the renaming of USB 3.0 (i.e., the latest USB version of that time) to USB 3.1 Gen 1.

In July 2013, USB 3.1 Gen 2 was released, with its top data transfer speed at 10 Gbps.


Then, in September 2017, USB 3.2 was released. There are four versions of USB 3.2: Gen 1×1, Gen 1×2, Gen 2×1, and Gen 2×2.


USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 is quite popular nowadays and offers a top speed of 20 Gbps using 2-lane operation (hence the name 2×2). This version is only compatible with USB Type C design. Since it offers considerably faster data transfer and charging speeds, most modern smartphones and laptops support this USB version.