When MicroUSB gave me fits

Admit it, you were right there with me in late 2014 when I wrote this article. MicroUSB was pretty much the only way you connected anything back then (unless it came from Apple.) It was also intensely annoying and unworthy of the kind of pervasiveness it had achieved.

True, small mobile devices needed some sort of standard that included power and data. MicroUSB was better than something proprietary and  it was better than MiniUSB, the connector it replaced. MiniUSB, as you’ll see below…

…was bigger and had a big empty space in the middle. This caused it to bend and deform if you used a cheap cable. So MicroUSB was really the best alternative of the really bad choices we had back then.

So glad USB-C is here

USB-C is the first connector where the makers actually “listened.” It may not be perfect, but if you look at what it brings (that MicroUSB doesn’t) it’s pretty clear that it’s designed for today and beyond.

  • Reversible connector –  so you never have to worry about putting it in wrong.
  • Fast – fast enough to run an 8K monitor or a really good hard drive
  • Available – yes it is “technically” a licensed standard and so not everyone could make it, but it’s not like Apple’s Lightning which took years to get licenses for
  • Small but powerful – Unlike older small connectors, the USB-C connector can handle anything that a larger connector can

These were the big complaints people (myself included) had about MicroUSB and they’ve all been addressed.

Taking over the world (gradually)

At this point, most of the stuff you really want already has USB-C. It’s making its way into laptops and hard drives slowly, and it’s already a feature of the phone you want to buy (unless of course it’s an iPhone.) The true irony here is that while it’s Apple that’s leading the charge to USB-C on the desktop (and laptop) fronts, their phones still don’t use it. Not that the Lightning connector is bad… in fact in at least one way it’s superior. It’s designed to collect less dust because the connector itself is a flat puck with no hole in the middle. Still, it’s about time that Apple joined the ever-expanding legion of companies using the same exact connector. They have already moved their iPads to a USB-C connection… could the phones be on the way? I hope so.

Although, there are still hangers-on

Just yesterday I bought a new product that still connected over MicroUSB. It came with yet another extremely flimsy MicroUSB cable, just what I need for my collection of 50-60 of these pieces of junk sitting in a box. I’m guessing it will probably be another 5 years before we’re really done with MicroUSB. We may never be completely rid of USB-A, the original USB connector. That connector had a 20-year head start in getting into everything from computers to refrigerators. But one day, we can all hope for a future where the USB-C connector is the only one you’ll need for absolutely everything. Won’t that be nice?

Oh by the way, if you’re looking for USB-C accessories, you might want to check out the great selection at Solid Signal.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.